Joining a parish


#1

Hello-
I’m not sure if this actually belongs in this sub forum, so feel free to move it:)

We recently moved to a new area. Previously, we attended 3 different parishes at various times, one was an EF parish within our diocese, the other two were OF parishes, also in our diocese. Neither was our “geographic” parish…just ones we chose to attend and register with. I am a convert and did a lot of parish hopping in an effort to find a good, traditional mass, of either form :shrug:

Now we are living in a new county, in a new diocese. There is a church close to home which I assume is my geographic parish. I attend daily mass there occasionally, but it is not my preferred parish for several reasons (it’s very, very small, no regular confession time, and I have difficulty understanding the priest…he’s very sweet, but with a very thick accent). The parish I prefer is in our former diocese, one of the OF parishes we previously attended. It is a 20 minute drive, but it is a place we feel at home, the liturgy is solid and traditional.

My questions are about my obligations and what the best course of action is. I’d love some advice. Now that we are moved and settled and I have seen how several different parishes work, I want to settle into one and make it our home. Am I obligated to register and be a member at my geographical parish? I can see the benefits of that in terms of community and logistics, but it is not my preference. Can we register and be members at a parish not in our diocese? That is what I would like to do, but I have no idea of that is allowed.

Help anyone? I want to do the right thing both spiritually and in terms of church law.

Angela


#2

Your parish is the one you are resident in. Do you have to attend there? No, you can attend any parish Church you want. However, you may only get baptised, married, and buried by the priest in your residential parish. None of these may be carried out in another parish unless your parish priest gives prior permission to the priest of another parish.


#3

No.

Can we register and be members at a parish not in our diocese?

That is questionable. I suspect that the practical answer is yes, but you are still subject to the diocese where you live.


#4

This is all very difficult to explain, because “registering” at a parish is not a canonical practice, and has only really come into force in recent years. Each diocese, and sometimes each parish has different regulations about registration. The fact of the matter is, your parish depends on where you live, but you have the full right to attend any parish, and receive sacraments anywhere.

Keep in mind that here I’m dealing with territorial parishes, and I’m leaving personal parishes out of the mix for simplicity’s sake.


#5

Thanks for the answers thus far.

So, if I can basically attend where I wish, and even register there, will my children be able to receive the sacraments at our parish of choice even though we might be out of our technical diocese? I just don’t want to sink into parish life somewhere and then find out in a few years that we are unable to receive the sacraments because we aren’t in our home parish or diocese…

As I said, I’m a convert, and I had no idea there were rules about such things!

Angela


#6

The rules are actually quite simple. You are a member of the parish you reside in. Just as you are a resident of a county or state you reside in.

Other parishes will likely be willing to do marriages, bsptisms, etc if you are registered, your territorial parish must.


#7

Not quite as simple as you think. A bishop might erect a non territorial parish to serve a particular need, such as an ethnic community. That is known as a 'Personal Parish" as it is erected by the personal authority of the bishop.

A person can petition the pastor of that parish to take them on, if that happens, the pastor of the territorial parish in which they reside is no longer their canonical pastor.

The closest parish to our house is actually such a parish, it serves the Polish community. It is staffed by priests from Poland, the Masses are said in Polish. But it is a diocesan parish. We are not members there, even thought is it two miles closer to us that the territorial parish.

But the members there are not canonically members of whatever territorial parish they reside in. Any permission required of their pastor, or any Sacraments performed, are properly done at their Personal Parish, not their territorial one.

Can. 518 As a general rule a parish is to be territorial, that is, one which includes all the Christian faithful of a certain territory. When it is expedient, however, personal parishes are to be established determined by reason of the rite, language, or nationality of the Christian faithful of some territory, or even for some other reason.

Can. 519 The pastor (parochus) is the proper pastor (pastor) of the parish entrusted to him, exercising the pastoral care of the community committed to him under the authority of the diocesan bishop in whose ministry of Christ he has been called to share, so that for that same community he carries out the functions of teaching, sanctifying, and governing, also with the cooperation of other presbyters or deacons and with the assistance of lay members of the Christian faithful, according to the norm of law.

In the case of a territorial parish, the bishop entrusts to the pastor, the Christian faithful who reside in that territory. In the case of a personal parish, the bishop entrusts all members of the particular community for which he established the personal parish to that pastor.

FYI, most of the parishes established to serve the EF communities are established this way as well, as personal parishes entrusted to pastors to serve the needs of those who are attracted to the Mass of 1962


#8

The general rule of the Archdiocese here is to attend the church within the designated boundaries of where you live. At our church, we have several parishioners who are registered and live outside of the parish. They attend Mass and use the weekly support envelopes. The parish welcomes them and the family is very involved in various ministries. Their children attend the school. Because they are registered, they are considered the same as everyone else. I don’t recall of their having to ask for dispensation to Baptize or marry here. (To be registered here and want to marry at another church would require dispensation from the Bishop.) One of these families lived in our parish but moved into a neighboring city and did not want to change churches. They remained members here. One of our past priests would often say that you need to belong to your parish church so you could build your own community of faith by worshipping with and praying for your neighbors. Then I heard another priest say, “Go where you are fed.”
God bless you and I am praying you will find a church you can call home.


#9

That is not correct. Other parishes can refuse baptisms, marriages and even funerals unless they have been given PRIOR by the real parish priest of the OP.


#10

You’re going to get varied answers so it’s best to contact your diocese.

Where I live I have 5 different Catholic Churches of 4 different parishes within 7 miles of my home. I was baptized in one, had my other initiation sacraments in another (since I attended their parish school) and was married in another. My husband and I now belong to the one in which we were married and our son was baptized there.

Maybe this is regional? I don’t know, but people here get their sacraments in the parish in which they are “registered”, not the one in which they reside.


#11

Its not regional, it is the norm these days. But my point (not going into extra-territorial parishes ), is that the parish you reside must provide you the sacraments. The one in which you are registered is choosing to, which is the norm these days.


#12

So, I called my new diocese today and spoke to two women, one an admin, another the person in charge of sacraments. Both said I have no obligation to join my local parish or even one in this diocese. However, they both recommended I DO join my local parish so that we are a part of the community where we live. So, I guess that’s the answer….do as you like, but we think you should join local.


#13

The reason why they say you should stay local is because they want to keep as many people as they can inside the parish. If your roots are in the other parish and you are willing to do the commute, as far as I’m concerned stay there. So often the church gets stuck on rules that it forgets the pastoral aspect. It is important to go where your spirit is being fed and where you will grow spiritually. That is always something to keep in mind when you decide what parish to attend. If the local parish won’t do it, then attend it as a plan B whenever you can’t attend your regular parish for whatever reason.


#14

newangela asked *Can we register and be members at a parish not in our diocese? *
Check with your diocese and the other diocese. In my area, there is a non-ethnic “personal parish” whose property is owned by a religious owner instead of the archdiocese. There are quite a few people registered there who come from the next state and would, therefore, be in another archdiocese. There are also ethnic parishes here who have registered parishioners from the neighboring state because there are no parishes of their ethnicity in their immediate area.


#15

It is not clear whether you registered and therefore became a member of one parish, multiple parishes (perhaps at different times), or belong to no parish. You would probably still be considered a member of whichever one you registered with, unless you took steps to “leave” that parish. If that is the parish you want to remain with, just give them a change of address. But also check to make sure that the availability of future sacraments are not conditioned on actually living in that diocese. It sounds like you are close to the border between two dioceses, but are not the first to be in that situation. But it is best to check it out so there are no surprises (personally, I think everyone should be very pleased that you are putting so much thought into your faith life, and which parish you attend or receive the sacraments from should not be a probelm).

Now we are living in a new county, in a new diocese. There is a church close to home which I assume is my geographic parish. I attend daily mass there occasionally, but it is not my preferred parish for several reasons (it’s very, very small, no regular confession time, and I have difficulty understanding the priest…he’s very sweet, but with a very thick accent). The parish I prefer is in our former diocese, one of the OF parishes we previously attended. It is a 20 minute drive, but it is a place we feel at home, the liturgy is solid and traditional.

My questions are about my obligations and what the best course of action is. I’d love some advice. Now that we are moved and settled and I have seen how several different parishes work, I want to settle into one and make it our home. Am I obligated to register and be a member at my geographical parish? I can see the benefits of that in terms of community and logistics, but it is not my preference. Can we register and be members at a parish not in our diocese? That is what I would like to do, but I have no idea of that is allowed.

Help anyone? I want to do the right thing both spiritually and in terms of church law.

Angela

The biggest question is probably crossing between two dioceses, but as mentioned above, there are others who have run into this, so it would be best to check with the priest at the parish you want to be or remain a member of.

Not sure how it works in other places, but in our midwest diocese, I know of many, many people who belong to parishes outside the geographic boundaries of their “home” parish. That has happened to me several times, and it has never been a problem. Some people move and stay with their former parish; others switch when parishes close or merge and they find another that is a better fit for them. I currently live within the boundaries of one parish but belong to another in the opposite direction. I know of many people in our parish who currently live outside the boundaries but remain members, and some of my neighbors belong to other parishes. No big deal around here.

I would think that in many places, with mergers and the reduction in parishes, it is getting much more difficult to expect people to stay within geographical boundaries.

Good luck with joining the parish you want to make your “home” in living your faith.


#16

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.