Interested in finally becoming a Catholic question about parish


I was brought up Catholic. Well not really about the faith. My family was totally dysfunctional; I was the youngest out of five. My mother brought us to Mass when it was good for her. Everyone was baptized made their communion but me. Anyway, I have a family now. My husband is Protestant, but I am pushing towards converting to Catholicism. He is open at this point.
Anyway, we want to Mass last week, the church is practically in our backyard. We both did not feel that it was what we wanted for our daughter. I have been to other Catholic Masses so I know that they are not all the same. There is a larger catholic church about 2 miles away. Do we have to make the closest church our parish???


No, the closest parish does not have to be your own. The church I attend is not the closest one to me.

I would recommend trying to find a Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) in your area. They usually have very good catechism classes and can help you learn the faith extremely well. Here is a list of some TLM’s:

If you are seeking conversion to Catholicism, I offer the following resources for you to learn more about Catholicism:

Living a Catholic Life
One Bread Lay Apostolate
Phatmass Directory


Catechism of the Council of Trent (very complex but it teaches the Faith)

My Catholic Faith by Angelus Press (193 chapters covering everything you need to know about the Catholic Church)

Baltimore Catechism (simple to understand; highly recommended)

The Catechetical Instructions of Saint Thomas Aquinas (complex but it teaches the Faith completely)

The Confirmed Catholic’s Companion: A Guide to Abundant Living

Catholicism for Dummies by Fr. John Trigilio and Fr. Kenneth Brighenti (Highly recommended)

Note: Catholicism for Dummies not Idiot’s Guide to Catholicism is recommended. I have read that the Idiot’s Guide has several theological errors, and it isn’t even written by Catholics.

This is the Faith by Canon Francis Ripley (Also highly recommended)

A Biblical Defense of Catholicism by Dave Armstrong

Fundamentalism and Catholicism by Karl Keating

No. You need to make some parish your parish, if for no other reason than that it tracks the reception of the sacraments. I believe Canon law is much less rigid than it used to be about what parish is your parish. Find one that helps you to grow closer to Christ, register as a member and support it - both financially and in time (service). Welcome home!

Oh, and if you decide to go to Mass somewhere else occasionally, that is perfectly fine. But do try to beomce a member of your chosen parish - more than in just name.

I agree with everything Seminarian Matt said…be careful about which parish you go to.

No, you do not have to attend the Church closest to you.

You also do not have to attend a TLM. In my case the closest one is two hours away. I attend a very nice NO near me.

Attend the one you like and register as a member.

I agree with what everyone has said…especially about Catholicism for Dummies…a much better book than an Idiots Guide…IMO…

Here we have to register in the parish whose geographical area we live in, but I go to TLM across town and have often attended Masses at other parishes. But, My money and my heart really belongs to my parish of record.


Absolutely parish shop. Know that God has a parish for you. We drive 20 miles or so to downtown Chicago for our wonderful parish.


Welcome back and hopefully you find a nice faithful parish. Remember just because this is the Catholic Church and it is perfect the people are far from perfect. We mess things up quite a bit, yet the teachings are perfect and beautiful, just study up and you will be overwhelmed at the richness that faith has to offer.

I believe you should go to the Church closest to you, yet do not hesitate to visit other Catholic Churches some are quite beautiful and this will probably give you a good experience at what the Church has to offer.

In Christ



I was told that it’s preferable that you go to the parish close to you, so if you do try to go elsewhere, be patient that they may not want to accept you as a registered parishioner at first. I don’t go to the church closest to me, and was told at the parish I liked that I should just start going where I wanted and go for a few months before I approached the pastor about registering. After about three months, I met the pastor on the way out of mass, and asked him if it would be alright for me to register even though I didn’t live in their specific area. He said fine, took my name, and said to call the parish secretary Monday morning and tell her he approved it. The rules may be different in your diocese, they may not care either way. Just don’t be discouraged if at first the parish you really like gives you a bit of bureaucracy to deal with.

Instead of going to Mass at your own parish you would be going to another parish.

Some extracts from the Code of Canon Law on parishes:

“Can. 515 §1 A parish is a certain community of Christ’s faithful stably established within a particular Church, whose pastoral care, under the authority of the diocesan Bishop, is entrusted to a parish priest as its proper pastor.”
(The Code of Canon Law: New revised English Translation, HarperCollins Liturgical, 1997, ISBN 000599375X.)

“Can. 518 As a general rule, a parish is to be territorial, that is, it is to embrace all Christ’s faithful of a given territory. Where it is useful, however, personal parishes are to be established, determined by reason of the rite, language or nationality of Christ’s faithful of a certain territory, or on some other basis.”

So even if you go to Mass at another church, you are still under the pastoral care of the parish priest where you live. Your parish priest would have some responsibility and some say in issues like: Is someone sufficiently prepared for the ceremony of “Reception of Baptised Christians into the Full Communion of the Catholic Church”? Is someone ready for their First Communion?

So there may be an added complexity in regularly going to Mass in another parish.

Thank you all for your support.
Seminarian Matt - Thank you for all your suggestions. I have been looking over some of those sites, they are very informative. My husband and I are still at the “consideration” stage, but will be going to Mass tomorrow.

Thanks again.

I do hope those websites and reading material help. I would start small by just going to mass and reading some of the less complex books. Then you can slowly make your way to more complicated reading materials. That is what I did. I went through RCIA and was baptized, confirmed, and received First Communion at the Easter Vigil in 2004.

If you have any questions about Catholicism, please do not hestitate to ask me. If I do not know the answer, I know plenty of priests and seminarians that I could ask. :cool:

I became a Roamin’ Catholic when I reverted. I felt it was important to be in a place I felt most comfortable.

I felt 100% at home at the 3rd parish I visited - and this was before Mass even started. I walked in and realized that I was ‘home’. I’m unable to be too involved due to my work schedule, but someday!

This practice is discouraged, rightfully so, in most places.

At our CCD appreciation dinner this came up. One of the persons had moved back into the diocese and was told which church would be his parish. This affects the tuition rates at our local school. You are to turn in your envelopes that are mailed to you for the weekly offering.

We drive that far downtown, too even though there is a Church that is 5 minutes away. I do attend the closer one when I am in a time crunch.:wink:

This bothered me for a while (since it does not agree with Canon Law) so I was going to take some time with the annotated Canon Law, but, meanwhile, Father Serpa answered this question twice.

[quote=Fr. Vincent Serpa]Jun 15, '07, 11:26 am

While one ought to attend his parish church regularly, the new code of canon law does not specify that it must be in the parish territory in which one resides. By all means shop around and register where you choose.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

Jun 18, ‘07, 11:38 am

The new code of canon law does not require one to register in the closest parish to where one resides. Nor does it say anything about hopping the boundaries of the diocese. Go where you are fed!

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

Bolding mine.



I agree with everyone actually. You should enjoy the fit and feel of the Mass, the Parish, and Faith Formation classes you are involved with. On the other hand, stop and consider why is this Parish in your backyard? Perhaps God is calling you to attend, get involved, and be a part of the solution. Discern well; God bless you and your family!:thumbsup:

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