Parish Registration


#1

I recently read that you don’t “choose” your parish; you choose where you live, and you become a member of that parish. This is news to me. I live in a city, and I attend a church that has a good community and a great pastor. There are tons of churches around; I doubt the one I attend is closest to me. It’s just the one I ended up at. I’m a registered parishioner… should I not be? Am I supposed to automatically attend the church I live closest to?

I’m moving to a new state soon, and I was looking forward to exploring the different Catholic churches in the area and seeing which one suited me best. I know that a Catholic church is a Catholic church - but some parishes are more liberal/conservative/traditional/modern/big/small/older/younger - I definitely don’t see any problem going to a parish that isn’t nearest you. The only time I could see this as a problem would be if you were intentionally searching for an overly liberal parish to try to escape Church rules or something.

Anyway, question is, is this true? Are there parish boundaries I’m supposed to know about it? Are you supposed to be within boundaries to register?

Thanks!

(Don’t think this really belongs in this specific forum, but couldn’t find a better category? If there’s a mod, feel free to move to somewhere more appropriate.)


#2

Parishes are defined geographically. Your parish is the one where you live. If you don't know for sure, you can call the diocese. When we moved, the diocese actually called us and told us the name of our new geographic parish.

Registering doesn't change your parish but it changes which parish is responsible for you. By accepting your registration, the pastor assumes responsibility for you. A parish does not have to accept registrations from outside its geographic boundries.

You are free to attend Mass at any Catholic parish - the one where you live, the one where you are registered or the another one altogethr.


#3

Hmm. The thing I find odd is that if I go on my Archdiocese website, there's absolutely no reference to "boundaries." It just says "find a parish," gives me a map, and when I click on my location in the Archdiocese (which is an urban area), it gives me a list of 53 results. Alternatively, I can enter my zip code, which gives me 62 results (not all within my zip code, but probably within a very short distance). There's no mention of going to the one closest to me, or even helping me find that. And I guess this just doesn't really seem to be the norm here - I know most of the parishioners are from all over the city.

Anyway, I guess I could call the Archdiocese, but it seems kind of pointless being that I'm moving soon. And where I'm moving, I know which parish is closest (it's across the street from my new apartment).

If I do choose to attend a church other than the one closest to me, do you think it will be a problem if I try to register? Is my current situation abnormal? It seems silly that I should register in a parish I never attend and get mail asking for donations instead of being encouraged to donate where I attend Sunday mass.


#4

Side question, out of curiosity.

What if the nearest parish primarily did services in another language? Is that still your parish? We have a lot of Spanish language services around here.

Sorry for all the questions. I guess I'm just confused because that really doesn't seem to be the way things are organized, which is why I was surprised when I read it.


#5

[quote="lllj, post:3, topic:321037"]
Hmm. The thing I find odd is that if I go on my Archdiocese website, there's absolutely no reference to "boundaries." It just says "find a parish," gives me a map, and when I click on my location in the Archdiocese (which is an urban area), it gives me a list of 53 results. Alternatively, I can enter my zip code, which gives me 62 results (not all within my zip code, but probably within a very short distance). There's no mention of going to the one closest to me, or even helping me find that. And I guess this just doesn't really seem to be the norm here - I know most of the parishioners are from all over the city.

Anyway, I guess I could call the Archdiocese, but it seems kind of pointless being that I'm moving soon. And where I'm moving, I know which parish is closest (it's across the street from my new apartment).

[/quote]

Yes, call if you want to know. The parish bounderies don't follow zip codes so the interactive maps give multiple results. Also those maps are heavily used by people visiting the area for whom parish boundries mean nothing - they are just looking for a Sunday Mass. :)

If I do choose to attend a church other than the one closest to me, do you think it will be a problem if I try to register? Is my current situation abnormal? It seems silly that I should register in a parish I never attend and get mail asking for donations instead of being encouraged to donate where I attend Sunday mass

In the US very few parishes object to people registering who do not live within the boundries. The only way to know for sure is to ask.


#6

[quote="lllj, post:4, topic:321037"]
Side question, out of curiosity.

What if the nearest parish primarily did services in another language? Is that still your parish? We have a lot of Spanish language services around here.

[/quote]

If the parish near you was the only one you could reasonably go to, it will still be your parish and you will stil be obligated to attend Mass even if it's in a language you don't understand yet. The language in which a Mass is offered is purely a matter of convenience.

Happens all the time. But you are under no obligation to attend there if there is another parish you can attend. You could register there most likely and get your mail from there too.

Sorry for all the questions. I guess I'm just confused because that really doesn't seem to be the way things are organized, which is why I was surprised when I read it

It's confusing because we have changed the way we talk about our parishes. Most people (myself included) refer to our parish as the one we attend even if it's not where we live.

Registration is not an official Church thing. It just makes the record keeping easier. There are no official rules about registering and it isn't even used in many places outside of the US.


#7

For most of us in 2013, the concept of being part of a geographically defined parish is a strange concept for most Americans.

Before World War II, the average American never travelled more than 250 miles from their homes. Think of the exodus from cities to suburbs accompanying the post War baby boom as well as the highway system built in the 1950s. Culturally, we are a country where most people do move away from their homes.

Add to this (and I know I will get criticized heavily for this but I am saying it anyway) the Protestant-thinking of "church hopping" that has crept into Catholic consciousness has created in most Catholics a lack of automatic loyalty to a geographical parish. This is not necessarily a good thing or a bad thing; I am just pointing out it is one factor in American Catholicism today


#8

[quote="Corki, post:2, topic:321037"]
Parishes are defined geographically. Your parish is the one where you live. If you don't know for sure, you can call the diocese. When we moved, the diocese actually called us and told us the name of our new geographic parish.

Registering doesn't change your parish but it changes which parish is responsible for you. By accepting your registration, the pastor assumes responsibility for you. A parish does not have to accept registrations from outside its geographic boundries.

You are free to attend Mass at any Catholic parish - the one where you live, the one where you are registered or the another one altogethr.

[/quote]

Interesting! Do you have to tell the church when you move?


#9

I have never registered at my parish that I was confirmed and currently attend. I chose not to register because I don't have any money to regularly offer to the church. When I have it, I make a point of offering, but I can't guarantee how much I can give a year, so I chose not to register. So, how does it work as has been mentioned that registering is for your pastor to be responsible for you, if you are not registered? My pastors know me, I attend regularly, they recognize me in confession even though I have never done it face to face, so I do have a pretty good relationship with them as well as friends and acquaintances at my parish, so does it make any difference that I'm not registered?


#10

[quote="BrethrenBoy, post:8, topic:321037"]
Interesting! Do you have to tell the church when you move?

[/quote]

Usually the parishes take care of it for you. When you go to a new parish and either register or simply introduce yourself, the new parish will inform the former one.


#11

I belong to one parish but attend a different one.


#12

[quote="Corki, post:2, topic:321037"]
Parishes are defined geographically. Your parish is the one where you live.

[/quote]

Yes, that is typically the case. There are exceptions, however. For example, some parishes are defined not by physical boundaries but by the ethnicity of their members. There are other exceptions such as university campus parishes and military parishes.

*Registering doesn't change your parish but it changes which parish is responsible for you. By accepting your registration, the pastor assumes responsibility for you. *

That's not really the case. The pastor of your "real" parish is still "responsible" for you. For example, if you live in Parish A but attend Mass and are registered at Parish B, the pastor of Parish A is officially your pastor. If you want to have your child baptized or want to get married, the pastor of Parish A is typically consulted. Even if it's behind the scenes and you aren't aware of it.

*You are free to attend Mass at any Catholic parish - the one where you live, the one where you are registered or the another one all together.
*

:thumbsup:


#13

[quote="lllj, post:1, topic:321037"]
I recently read that you don't "choose" your parish; you choose where you live, and you become a member of that parish. This is news to me. I live in a city, and I attend a church that has a good community and a great pastor. There are tons of churches around; I doubt the one I attend is closest to me. It's just the one I ended up at. I'm a registered parishioner... should I not be? Am I supposed to automatically attend the church I live closest to?

I'm moving to a new state soon, and I was looking forward to exploring the different Catholic churches in the area and seeing which one suited me best. I know that a Catholic church is a Catholic church - but some parishes are more liberal/conservative/traditional/modern/big/small/older/younger - I definitely don't see any problem going to a parish that isn't nearest you. The only time I could see this as a problem would be if you were intentionally searching for an overly liberal parish to try to escape Church rules or something.

Anyway, question is, is this true? Are there parish boundaries I'm supposed to know about it? Are you supposed to be within boundaries to register?

Thanks!

(Don't think this really belongs in this specific forum, but couldn't find a better category? If there's a mod, feel free to move to somewhere more appropriate.)

[/quote]

don't worry about the "boundary" things. They are more recommendations than anything and any parish you decide to go to will accept you and certainly not turn you down. Go to different parishes if able and see which one is best for you and your family and be at peace.


#14

We are currently registered at 2 parishes near us.
We attend both regularly as the Mass times are varied and with our work schedules it works out well for us.
Our "home" parish is where we take part in the extras (KOC, Picnic, Bazaar) and our "second" parish allows us to get envelopes and keep abreast of anything going on that may interest us.
I do not think it bothers either one, both parishes have tremendous pastors so we feel particularly blessed that regardless of when or where we go we get good solid teaching and preaching.


#15

[quote="BettyBoop416, post:12, topic:321037"]
Yes, that is typically the case. There are exceptions, however. For example, some parishes are defined not by physical boundaries but by the ethnicity of their members. There are other exceptions such as university campus parishes and military parishes.
:

[/quote]

Correct, those are Canonically referred to as "Personal Parishes", as they are established on the personal authority of the bishop to serve a particular community. As you mentioned, it is often an ethnic or language basis, but it could be for any reason that the bishop feels a separate parish is needed.

So the correct answer to the OP's question is that yes, you do belong to your geographical parish UNLESS you register at a Canonical Personal Parish.


#16

[quote="Issa87, post:9, topic:321037"]
I have never registered at my parish that I was confirmed and currently attend. I chose not to register because I don't have any money to regularly offer to the church. When I have it, I make a point of offering, but I can't guarantee how much I can give a year, so I chose not to register. So, how does it work as has been mentioned that registering is for your pastor to be responsible for you, if you are not registered? My pastors know me, I attend regularly, they recognize me in confession even though I have never done it face to face, so I do have a pretty good relationship with them as well as friends and acquaintances at my parish, so does it make any difference that I'm not registered?

[/quote]

Here, anyway, registering is also connected to receiving our local catholic newspaper. Whatever parish you are registered with pays for each of it's members to receive the newspaper weekly (an envelope is provided to reimburse the parish for the cost if you are willing and able but it's not required). Also, registering gets you notices of things like blood drives, special events, etc. and qualifies you to become a participating parish member which means discounts on fees associated with tuition for religious education classes, VBS, etc. Participation, as defined here, does not mean monetary donations alone - although regular giving using envelopes qualifies. Volunteering in various ways around the parish also counts as participation.

Like the census, I believe parish registrations also help with things like future planning. (For example, my parish did a recent study and determined that we probably would not need a new church building in the future despite our growth, but could reconfigure the one we currently have and rearrange things to permit more parking. This part of the long range planning).

I had no problem registering with a parish I technically do not live in. In fact, I did not know I was actually inside the boundaries of a different parish until a couple years after we moved. :shrug:


#17

[quote="lllj, post:3, topic:321037"]
Hmm. The thing I find odd is that if I go on my Archdiocese website, there's absolutely no reference to "boundaries." It just says "find a parish," gives me a map, and when I click on my location in the Archdiocese (which is an urban area), it gives me a list of 53 results. Alternatively, I can enter my zip code, which gives me 62 results (not all within my zip code, but probably within a very short distance). There's no mention of going to the one closest to me, or even helping me find that. And I guess this just doesn't really seem to be the norm here - I know most of the parishioners are from all over the city.

[/quote]

Our area is quite similar to yours. We have people living within the boundaries of the local parish but who are members of the parish to the south. And some Catholics south of us attend the parish to the north. There are three or four Catholic couples or families in my immediate neighborhood who belong to other parishes outside the two mentioned. In an urban area like ours, this seems to be the norm.

Some of that is caused when people move but retain membership in their former parish (I have done that) or when parishes close or merge and people seek out and join a different parish than the one that remains (done that, too). For some, it may be the type of parish, programs and ministries that exist. For example, a family with children may join a particular parish because it has a very good Religious Formation program or school (sure enough, been there as well). It could also come down to the atmosphere within the church, the quality of their liturgies, parishioner involvement, all kinds of things; finding a parish where one feels comfortable and a part of the community is important to a lot of people.

The situation we have, and that you are seeing in your new area, may not be the norm everywhere. We happen to live in an area that has a high percentage of Catholics, where there were once a lot of parishes, some within a few blocks of each other (that has drastically changed in the past decade or two). I have family that live in another state with fewer Catholics and where the parishes are many miles apart. In that case, people have few convenient choices.

I know that in our diocese, although each parish has a geographical boundary (as mentioned by others), in reality those boundaries overlap and are not enforced. They use a cluster or grouping of parishes that together serve specific areas, and there is no requirement or expectation that a Catholic will join the parish closest to them, or even a church within that group. Those areas defined by the diocese are the communities the grouped parishes are expected to serve and draw from, but they place no restrictions on the people and their choice of parish.

My recommendation is that you check out and choose a parish that fits you the best. Talk to people, attend their liturgies, check out their bulletins. Most parishes have a website and often post their bulletins there; so you can use the internet to do some of your research. Don't be as concerned about where it is located geographically but rather where it is located spiritually.


#18

[quote="freshwind, post:14, topic:321037"]
We are currently registered at 2 parishes near us.
We attend both regularly as the Mass times are varied and with our work schedules it works out well for us.
Our "home" parish is where we take part in the extras (KOC, Picnic, Bazaar) and our "second" parish allows us to get envelopes and keep abreast of anything going on that may interest us.
I do not think it bothers either one, both parishes have tremendous pastors so we feel particularly blessed that regardless of when or where we go we get good solid teaching and preaching.

[/quote]

That's fine but you should let them know that you are double registered. The parish usually reports different information to the diocese and you don't want to be double-counted. In our diocese, the information is transmitted all on-line so each family is only counted in one place but that may not be the case everywhere.


#19

[quote="Corki, post:18, topic:321037"]
That's fine but you should let them know that you are double registered. The parish usually reports different information to the diocese and you don't want to be double-counted. In our diocese, the information is transmitted all on-line so each family is only counted in one place but that may not be the case everywhere.

[/quote]

LOL! Nowdays you can't even go off the grid with the Church.

Most of the parish database programs on the market allow parishes to assign a parish household ID number to each family (as well as an individual ID number to each parishioner). The diocese also issues a household ID number and a techie parish will have both household numbers in their database. Parishes are supposed to send updates (new households, deaths, households that give notification of a move, households with "no activity" presumed to have moved or left the Church ) a certain number of times a year and the diocese tries to make sense of all that.


#20

The idea of geographical parishes is to ensure that every Catholic living within a defined area has a Pastor. When you are a geographic parish, every Catholic there is your parishioner, unless there is a personal parish in the area. They don't need to formally register, once they become known to you they are added to the parish roll.

What I find strange and objectionable is that some parishes don't consider you a parishioner unless you formally register and will refuse you the sacrament of marriage. Within our parish boundaries is a military base. This base doesn't have a Catholic Chaplain so, even if the military member has never darkened our door, if he/she decides to get married our Pastor is the go-to priest and he will do everything to prepare the couple even if he's never seen or heard of them before. No registration necessary, we're responsible for all Catholic military members whether or not they avail of our services or sacraments.


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