Parish vs Church


Why are some called parish’s and some called Church’s. For example, we attend St Mary Church, but used to attend St. Catherine of Sienna Parish.:shrug:


A parish is a geographic definition. So you live in St. Mary’s parish but attend St. Mary’s Church. In recent years it has become trendy to refer to the Church itself as a parish or even a Catholic Community. There is no real reason behind it; I guess some people just like the sound of it better. :shrug:


:hmmm:Hmmm color me confused! Here I had always thought that we say “parish” because “Church” is the big “C”, as in, the universal Church, Christ’s body on earth. Learn something new every day, I guess!:smiley:


I think there’s a canonical or liturgical distinction among “cathedral church,” “parish church,” “monastic church,” and “private or semi-private oratory”.


Here in the Archdiocese of New Orleans we just went through a restructuring of many parishes. As a result, some parishes were merged/suppressed/closed. In order to ease the tensions between two parish communities now worshipping at one church, many of the pariches decided to be renamed. However, a church building cannot be renamed. It is consecrated under a particular patron which cannot be changed. In these instances, the parish is called one thing and the church is called something else. For instance we have Good Shephard Parish worshipping at St. Stephen Church, St. Alphonsus Parish worshipping at St. Mary’s Assumption Church, and Divine Mercy Parish worshipping at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church and Natitivty of Our Lord Church.

Perhaps if you look into it the “Parish” you are referring to worships at a church with a different name.


I don’t know the details but I believe a parish is an organizational unit (of a diocese.) A Church, in the administrative sense, is something headed up by a bishop. However when a church building for a parish is dedicated it gets “Church” as part of the name.

So when someone mentions “Our Lady of the Rosary Church” that would really be referring to the dedicated building. If someone mentions “Blessed Sacrament Parish” they are referring to the administrative entity. In the case of new parishes there may not actually be a “St. Gabriel the Archangel Church”.

So technically a person belongs to St. Mary’s parish and worships at St. Mary’s Church. The sign at the parking lot entrance will probably read “Church” or “Parish” depending on whether that parish wishes to emphasize the the worship building or the associated organization.


Makes more sense to me now, thanks for the replys.


For the fastidious, here’s an additional detail: ‘church’ indicates a community, and the kind of church is identified by the descriptive ecclesiastical type, e.g. parish church of all saints, cathedral church of saint paul, etc. one drops the ecclesiastical label if there is no worshiping community there (as is the case in some oratories, shrines, and cathedrals. This convention is not consistently applied, but I have been a member of two churches that used this nomenclature.

overall, the first response in this thread is correct - a ‘parish’ is an area that can include more than one church (cf, Louisiana, where the term ‘parish’ is used rather than county) ; parish is the root of the word parochial and its episcopal (small e) equivalent is a diocese.


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