Parish registration


#1

I recently relocated. I attend Eucharistic adoration at one church, daily mass at another, Sunday service and a men's group at a third. I am within the parish boundary of a fourth Charismatic Catholic type of church.

All of the churches promote registration and have a monthly meeting to welcome new members with coffee and doughnuts. I like both coffee and doughnuts :p

Other than receiving a pack of pre-dated donation envelopes, what are the advantages to registering? Why is it important to a parish? How does one choose?


#2

[quote="MtnDwellar, post:1, topic:228654"]
I recently relocated. I attend Eucharistic adoration at one church, daily mass at another, Sunday service and a men's group at a third. I am within the parish boundary of a fourth Charismatic Catholic type of church.

All of the churches promote registration and have a monthly meeting to welcome new members with coffee and doughnuts. I like both coffee and doughnuts :p

Other than receiving a pack of pre-dated donation envelopes, what are the advantages to registering? Why is it important to a parish? How does one choose?

[/quote]

One doesn't choose a parish. Parishes are geographical locations. Every Catholic is automatically a member of whatever parish boundaries he has a residence, and likewise not a member of any other parish.

Personal parishes are different. These are parishes that are determined by some characteristic that people share in common--usually ethnic background; and they (almost) always overlap with geographic parishes.

The bottom line though is that you don't choose a parish any more than you "choose" what state you live in--if you live within the boundaries, you're a member of that parish, and the only way to choose a different one is to move (just like a state).


#3

[quote="MtnDwellar, post:1, topic:228654"]
I recently relocated. I attend Eucharistic adoration at one church, daily mass at another, Sunday service and a men's group at a third. I am within the parish boundary of a fourth Charismatic Catholic type of church.

All of the churches promote registration and have a monthly meeting to welcome new members with coffee and doughnuts. I like both coffee and doughnuts :p

Other than receiving a pack of pre-dated donation envelopes, what are the advantages to registering? Why is it important to a parish? How does one choose?

[/quote]

Registration usually is for donation tracking. They know you and therefore can send you tax receipts. Also, you being an active Catholic can be tracked by the priest. This will be important for receiving Sacraments. Some priests are strict that they will not allow those who do not attend Mass every Sunday to get Confirmed or Married in the Church.

Also access to Sacraments. While its not a full restriction, the parish you belong to would be the parish where you will seek the one-time Sacraments, such as marriage, confirmation, and even baptism for your children. Of course most other parishes will accomodate you if you wish to receive those Sacraments there but for many reasons, its preferred its done at a parish where you are a regular, and it follows that you are registered. But again, its not a restriction.


#4

Send coffee and doughnuts - I like the French crullers. I really the Boston creme but they only make 'em right around Boston :D


#5

[quote="MtnDwellar, post:1, topic:228654"]
Other than receiving a pack of pre-dated donation envelopes, what are the advantages to registering? Why is it important to a parish? How does one choose?

[/quote]

I believe the number of people registered within a specific parish relates to how much that parish is assessed for the diocesean appeals each year. What the other posters said about one-time sacraments also makes sense.


#6

Thanks for the responses.

Hmmm. The information so far inclines me not to register.

If I am only allowed to register with one church, whose geographic boundary includes my home, and I do not attend that church, and I don't donate at that church, and I do not foresee needing any one time sacraments, then........ No coffee and doughnuts for me :shrug:

There are at least four Catholic churches within four miles of my home. Decisions, decisions.


#7

[quote="MtnDwellar, post:6, topic:228654"]
There are at least four Catholic churches within four miles of my home. Decisions, decisions.

[/quote]

Wow, what a blessing! :)

I think joining a church is a good thing -- you can get to know people, get involved in the choir or become a lector or get on parish council or whatever. I think it's nice to know people who are around you at Mass.

I grew up going to the same church until I moved away for college, and I really missed having that parish family. I've been attending one church for 9 1/2 years now, but since my DH now attends with us (though he is not Catholic) we've been alternating between 2 others because he likes the priests at those 2 others more than the one I've gone to for so long. It's hard for me because I'm shy and I was finally getting to know some people, and that church was where all our children were baptized. I'm concerned because we'll be enrolling our oldest child in religious education in the fall and I want to figure out which one we'll attend and stick with it. It's just tough for me because I want to go to the one I've been going to since moving out here, but since DH prefers one of the others I'm willing to do that. I figure since I know Jesus is present at all of them, I can deal with going to one that doesn't quite feel like "home" the way that other one does. :( If it helps DH to feel more comfortable, I'll do it in the hopes that he'll convert one day. :crossrc:

Sorry for hijacking your thread! :o


#8

[quote="MtnDwellar, post:6, topic:228654"]
Thanks for the responses.

Hmmm. The information so far inclines me not to register.

If I am only allowed to register with one church, whose geographic boundary includes my home, and I do not attend that church, and I don't donate at that church, and I do not foresee needing any one time sacraments, then........ No coffee and doughnuts for me :shrug:

There are at least four Catholic churches within four miles of my home. Decisions, decisions.

[/quote]

It is not currently required by canon law to be registered in your geographic parish. Generally speaking, people register in their Sunday parish, not their daily Mass parish or the one that happens to have Eucharistic adoration, because that is where they make their regular donations. Certainly you want to be registered at the church that you would want to be married in, since it is generally easier for everyone involved to arrange a wedding in that church. (Presumably, that's the church where the most other parishioners know you, where your funeral Mass would be held, and so on, as well.)

These are rules particular to the Archdiocese of Portland, as an example:

  1. Parish Clergy must honor the right of those Catholics living within their parish to
    marry and may not add restrictions or requirements to those already defined in Canon
    Law.

  2. For the purpose of celebrating weddings, Catholics who live outside the parish
    boundaries, but regularly worship at that particular parish, should be regarded as
    having “domicile” in the parish.

  3. Parish clergy should make a reasonable effort to accept the request of a couple living
    outside their parish to marry unless this would make it impossible to provide adequate
    opportunities for their own parishioners to marry in their proper parish. He may
    request the permission of the proper pastor of either party. When it is not possible to
    accommodate a couple’s request to marry in his parish, the priest/deacon should refer
    them to their proper parish or to a priest or church able to accommodate their request

  4. In the Archdiocese of Portland, Catholic clergy must request the permission of the
    archbishop whenever they witness a marriage outside a church, chapel, or oratory even
    when one party is not baptized.. A Parish priest may celebrate a wedding in a church
    or chapel other than his parish church provided it is located within his parish
    boundaries or after having secured the permission and delegation of the proper pastor of
    the location where the wedding takes place.


#9

[quote="MtnDwellar, post:6, topic:228654"]
Thanks for the responses.

Hmmm. The information so far inclines me not to register.

If I am only allowed to register with one church, whose geographic boundary includes my home, and I do not attend that church, and I don't donate at that church, and I do not foresee needing any one time sacraments, then........ No coffee and doughnuts for me :shrug:

There are at least four Catholic churches within four miles of my home. Decisions, decisions.

[/quote]

Parish registration and parish membership are not the same thing; although there's a common misunderstanding out there that they are.

You can only be a member of the parish in which territory you reside. So, the only parish (and the only pastor) which applies to you is your own parish.

Parish registration does nothing to make someone a member of the parish. Nothing at all. Registration is nothing more than an administrative tool for the parish staff, but it has no bearing on your actual membership. You might be able to "register" in another parish (in theory, you could even register with some parish 1,000 miles away that you've never even visited), but that doesn't make you a member.

You can attend Mass, confession, etc. at ANY Catholic church of your choice. You can donate to any of them. You can eat anyone's donuts and drink anyone's coffee. If you make regular donations, they will likely "register" you so they can keep track and give you an annual statement in January.

There are certain times when going to your own proper parish is either essential, or very important. In matters of marriage and baptism, it can be essential (it can even mean the difference between a valid marriage and an invalid attempt at one, because witnessing a marriage requires that the priest have jurisdiction.) It can also be important for other things as well. Funerals are an example. A pastor has an obligation to provide a funeral for his own parishioners (those who live in the parish) but it's only a courtesy for one who did not live in the parish.

The point is what I said at the beginning: a Catholic is only a member of the parish in which he has a residence (personal parishes aside here). Registration does nothing to make someone a parishioner, and absence of registration does not mean that you-are-not a parishioner.


#10

[quote="FrDavid96, post:9, topic:228654"]
Parish registration and parish membership are not the same thing; although there's a common misunderstanding out there that they are.

You can only be a member of the parish in which territory you reside. So, the only parish (and the only pastor) which applies to you is your own parish.

Parish registration does nothing to make someone a member of the parish. Nothing at all. Registration is nothing more than an administrative tool for the parish staff, but it has no bearing on your actual membership. You might be able to "register" in another parish (in theory, you could even register with some parish 1,000 miles away that you've never even visited), but that doesn't make you a member.

You can attend Mass, confession, etc. at ANY Catholic church of your choice. You can donate to any of them. You can eat anyone's donuts and drink anyone's coffee. If you make regular donations, they will likely "register" you so they can keep track and give you an annual statement in January.

There are certain times when going to your own proper parish is either essential, or very important. In matters of marriage and baptism, it can be essential (it can even mean the difference between a valid marriage and an invalid attempt at one, because witnessing a marriage requires that the priest have jurisdiction.) It can also be important for other things as well. Funerals are an example. A pastor has an obligation to provide a funeral for his own parishioners (those who live in the parish) but it's only a courtesy for one who did not live in the parish.

The point is what I said at the beginning: a Catholic is only a member of the parish in which he has a residence (personal parishes aside here). Registration does nothing to make someone a parishioner, and absence of registration does not mean that you-are-not a parishioner.

[/quote]

If registration does not make one a member and there are essential or very important times to go to your geographical parish, but you like another parish or its priests better, you're just stuck with a parish and priest you don't like as well in those essential or very important times?


#11

[quote="Belle10, post:7, topic:228654"]
Wow, what a blessing! :)

I think joining a church is a good thing -- you can get to know people, get involved in the choir or become a lector or get on parish council or whatever. I think it's nice to know people who are around you at Mass.
Sorry for hijacking your thread! :o

[/quote]

You are right! I consider it a huge blessing. I was excited to find just one church so close to home, but four :highprayer:


#12

[quote="EasterJoy, post:8, topic:228654"]
Certainly you want to be registered at the church that you would want to be married in, since it is generally easier for everyone involved to arrange a wedding in that church.

[/quote]

Marriage? :nope: :nope: :nope:


#13

I can understand why others and I misunderstand. We usually think of registration as a precursor to membership. Thanks for clarifying.

Since registration is an administrative tool mainly used to track donations, registration at multiple parishes is acceptable? So, more coffee and doughnuts than I thought?

Thanks


#14

In my diocese, you can be officially registered at only one Parish. Registering at a second parish automatically removes your registration from all other parishes in the diocese (the diocese uses a synchronized computer network).

That said, at least in my diocese, the parish that you register in does not have to be the parish that is assigned to your particular geographical region.

Also in my diocese, they use the registration system for more than just tracking donations. The diocese keeps a census of all Catholics within its borders, and you need to be registered in one of the diocesan parishes to appear on this. You also receive discounted tuition at any diocesan schools if you are registered in a diocesan parish (even if you technically live outside the geographical boundaries of the diocese). Similarly, if you are within the geographical boundaries, but are not registered in a diocesan parish, then you pay a higher rate (and it's a difference of several thousand dollars).

In my parish in particular, you need to be registered there in order for your kids to participate in the religious education program. If you ever get asked to be a Confirmation sponsor and you need a letter of recommendation from the parish that affirms that you are a practicing Catholic and you attend Mass, you better be registered there. If not, then go to the parish where you are registered, and depending on the circumstances, they may look at your donation records.

The parish and the diocese also use the registration records for mailings. My diocese has a free Catholic newspaper that it sends weekly to all registered Catholics within the diocese. The parish sends letters periodically to all its registered members about different things going on in the church, or new groups or events that may be of interest to particular members.

Registration also helps if you ever need to go back and get confirmation that you received a Sacrament, like a Baptismal certificate. If you are registered at a parish within my diocese, they can look you up on the diocesan database and print you out a certificate within a matter of minutes. If you're not registered, the parish of your Baptism will still have your record, but it will be in a big book that's poorly indexed. It will take a long time to look up your record. There's a some probability that they won't be able to find it (maybe you were misalphabetized; maybe they put you on the wrong page; maybe they added your record to the book, but forgot to put your name in the index; maybe they lost the book).

My diocese happens to be especially sophisticated, so registration here probably carries more benefits than what would be considered "typical." But in general, I think registration is probably a good idea if you intend to be a practicing Catholic within your diocese.


#15

Just be sure you don’t live in a diocese that will give you grief for not registering in your official geographic parish. This appears to vary by diocese, so you’ll have to ask the parish staff when you register to find out the scoop.


#16

[quote="MtnDwellar, post:1, topic:228654"]
I recently relocated. I attend Eucharistic adoration at one church, daily mass at another, Sunday service and a men's group at a third. I am within the parish boundary of a fourth Charismatic Catholic type of church.

All of the churches promote registration and have a monthly meeting to welcome new members with coffee and doughnuts. I like both coffee and doughnuts :p

Other than receiving a pack of pre-dated donation envelopes, what are the advantages to registering? Why is it important to a parish? How does one choose?

[/quote]

you are a member of the parish within whose boundaries you reside and there is no need to register unless you want a report of your financial contribution, or will need proof that you are an active parishioner in order to enroll for RE for your kids, ask for sacraments etc. There really is no other practical way to know who is or is not participating in today's large parishes that draw from a wide area without registration.

Pick a parish where you plan to worship, and participate in the parish life and ministries, and register there. If you have children the choice will also depend on where you want them to go to school or receive RE/PSR/CCD

you can of course pick the parish with sprinkles on the donuts

My Presbyterian brother in law was astounded when he came to Mass with our family on a visit, when everyone trooped over to the hall afterward. "I had no idea Catholics fellowshipped after church" he exclaimed. "Well I don't know from fellowship, but we call it coffee and donuts," my daughter explaned. I am sure our membership was larger because we got ours from Georges, the best local bakery, instead of Walmart like everyone else.


#17

That depends on how you mean it. Please let me explain.

If one thinks of registration as meaning “I am a member here / I am a parishioner here” then it is a problem.

On the other hand, if one thinks of registration as being things like: being on the parish mailing list, having donations recorded, being involved in social activities, and things like those, then it’s fine.

The best way I can explain it is like this:

According to your profile, you live in Maryland.

What state considers you a citizen of that state? Seriously, which one? Can you live in Maryland but consider yourself a citizen of, let’s say, Virginia or Pennsylvania? What if you live closer to Harrisburg than you do to Annapolis? Does that mean that even though you live in Maryland, but the other capitol is closer you’re actually a citizen of that other state? Maybe you do, and there’s nothing wrong with that…until it comes time to get a driver’s license or pay your taxes. On a day-by-day basis, it doesn’t matter what you call yourself. Maybe you spend more time in Virginia than you do in Maryland–that’s perfectly fine, but it doesn’t make you a citizen there.

When it comes to state citizenship, all that matters is “where do you live?” Your state depends upon which side of the state line you actually reside, regardless of anything else. It’s the same with parish membership. Parishes have geographic boundaries, and one’s “proper parish” (that is, one’s parish of membership) is the one in whose boundaries you live. Nothing else matters.

You can go to Mass in another parish, and you’re most welcome to do so; just as you can go shopping or spend your leisure time in a neighboring state as much as you like.

Here’s a good example of parish boundaries. And I mean this ONLY by way of example
archphila.org/parishes/index.htm
That’s the Archdiocese of Philadelphia webpage. Click on a few parishes at random, and you’ll see very specific parish boundaries.

In recent years, the Archdiocese has found it necessary to enforce parish boundaries very closely. This has to do with parish closings/consolidating and the diocese history where so many people were in previous ethnic parishes (personal parishes) and were scattered all over the territory.

For years people said “it doesn’t matter” or “I’ll do as I please” (often the advice given here on these forums, mind you). The Archdiocese realized that this had become a problem, and had to fix it. Those people who said “I’ll just do as I please” are now very surprised when they need to go to their proper parish, they go to the wrong parish and make “demands” of the pastor, only to be told that they have to go to their own parish. They say things like “I’ve been registered here for years” or “I’ve been going to Mass here for years” but that doesn’t change things because they’re not approaching their own proper parish.

Could something similar happen in another diocese? Very likely. It is happening right now in other places, especially those places that in the past enjoyed a large number of local parishes, where people used to have “options” to go to one of several.

The simple fact is that parish membership depends upon where you live. People on these forums will quickly advise you “it doesn’t matter, just do as you please” But consider this:

when the time comes that you have some problem or difficulty because you decided to heed their advice and just “do as you please” where will those people be?

Can these posters guarantee you that registering yourself or considering yourself a member of a parish other-than-your-own will not be a problem in the future? Will they be there to make things right when you do encounter a problem? Can you appeal a bishop’s decision to the posters on CAF?

Something to think about.


#18

OK, sure. :rolleyes:

Seriously, though, choose the parish that you want to bury you (should that be necessary before you move), register there, be active there, and make certain you contribute to the support of that church. Be counted. A lot of people don’t, but it is the right thing to do.

This varies from one diocese to another. When my husband and I moved to our present address, I call the chancery office and asked what parish our home was in. The person at the chancery office (who I think I could have knocked off her chair with a feather at that point) told me that I could belong to whatever parish I chose. (We chose our geographic parish.)

At present, our archbishop does want everyone to specifically register at exactly one parish, though, and to notify their previous parish if they change, but for the purposes of marriage and so on considers the chosen parish as the parish in which the person has “domicile”…that is, if you’re active in a parish outside your geographic boundaries, you may marry there without the permission of the pastor of your geographic domicile, etc. It is undoubtedly very important to a bishop who has to consolidate parishes to know which parish has how many people who consider it “home”.

Maybe a call to the local chancery office would answer the OPs question. I’m fairly sure, though, that his bishop will want him to register somewhere!


#19

It doesn’t vary by diocese. All parishes (non-personal ones) are territorial by canon law.

This is what I mean by my earlier post. A Catholic is only a member of the parish in which he has a residence. Telling people that they can consider themselves members of a different parish really does not help them, because that’s essentially telling someone to disregard canon law.

Can you guarantee the OP that if he registers as a member of a parish other than his own proper parish, that this will not cause problems in the future? Can you assure him of that? Can you say with certainty that some future bishop will never begin strict enforcement of parish boundaries, regardless of what it might be like now? There are people right now in places like Philadelphia and Cleveland (just to mention 2 noteworthy examples) who are experiencing a lot of heartache because people told them that it was just fine to consider themselves parishioners of parishes where they are not in-fact parishioners. Right now, those people are hurting because others gave them some bad advice and told them to just ignore canon law and register wherever they please (not in so many words, but to the same effect)–and yes, some of those advice givers were priests.

Again, can you guarantee the OP that disregarding canon law as to parish membership right now will not cause problems in the future?


#20

Do I know what the policies are in our archdiocese right now? Yes. I literally called the chancery office, and was told to choose a parish. If I register in a parish and am active as a parishioner, by the direction of the archbishop I will be treated as if I have domicile there. The permission required exists, and is clearly stated in the marriage and funeral policies. A pastor who doesn’t like it will have to take it up with the archbishop, not the other way around.

Does this apply to someone who wants to register at a parish in the Diocese of Baker when he lives in the Archdiocese of Portland, or vice versa? I have no idea. Can I guarantee that things are not going to change when Archbishop Vlazny retires? No. Is that relatively soon? Yes. Do I expect his successor to change this? No. Does his policy in our archdiocese have a thing to do with anywhere else? No. Does this even have anything to do with me? No…because I chose to attend my true geographic parish.

Yes, by canon law the faithful have certain rights within their territorial parish that they do not have everywhere. I can say with certainty that there will be no need for permission from anyone to have me buried in my own parish. You are right: it is important for the faithful to realize that if they are granted permission to have access to the sacraments in other places that this is by the permission of their bishop, and that this may change. This does not mean that telling people that the bishop currently grants that permission freely is paramount to telling people to “disregard canon law.” It would be so if the permission were not being granted, it would be so if it were implied that what people have in parishes outside their geographic parish is theirs by right. In our archdiocese, though, it is not.

You ask, *“when the time comes that you have some problem or difficulty because you decided to heed their advice and just “do as you please” where will those people be?” *What is that problem going to be? That the OP is required to go to a parish he doesn’t want to go to? How is going to a parish he doesn’t want to go to right now going to change that? That he might go to some huge popular parish and find that it is closing because no one on the rolls live in its boundaries, so that the census is low? How is going to his geographic parish going to change that?

It’s a problem if people take a sense of entitlement when they register in a parish outside their geographic boundaries. You are wise to warn people that a diocese that currently grants the priveleges of domicile to those who regularly attend a parish at which they do not legally have true domicile may change that policy at any time. Otherwise, I don’t see how the problems you envision are going to be addressed by asking the OP to register in his geographic parish… not if his bishop, like mine, is currently tolerant of the practice. This does not rise to the level of flaunting canon law.


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.