Territorial Parish

This may not be the best place, but how do I determine this? Is it just which is closest to me? Are there boundaries? How do I find where the boundaries are? When I went through RCIA, they just said we were fine because it was the cathedral of the diocese and if we lived anywhere and the diocese it was fine, which is fine, but I’m just curious.

One church here actually has a map of their boundaries, and TBH, they are quite small compared to the size of the church. No one else has this information and I’m just immensely curious.

Have you checked with your diocese? I think in today’s mobile world so few people think about this that even parish staff may not know, but your diocesan staff should be able to tell you.

Okay, I suppose I will do that. I didn’t want to sound completely silly calling them if they were not the correct place to call.

In my case it was but I don’t think it’s always the closest. But do check with your diocese. I did. That way you will know for sure. I didn’t have the impression that they thought I was silly. When I still attended Mass though, I quit going to my territorial because of an issue with one of the priests and the atmosphere wasn’t right for me. So I attended another 5 miles further. I had the option of registering at the one better suited for me but never did and now no longer practice anyway.


Every parish certainly has boundaries. There is no question about that. They would have been determined when the parish was established (consider possible, future modifications, which also would be spelled out in precise detail).

How do you find out what they are? Seems to me you start at the parish and ask the pastor. If he doesn’t know, step up a level to the diocesan chancery. Hopefully, someone there can tell you. … Before all this, I suppose you could check the diocesan website. Some have parish maps…


Well the diocese website just has deaneries, and the parishes are listed by deanery no boundaries or anything. It’s just something that has been bugging me, I am registered at the cathedral and have had no problems. I just wondered if it is closest one to me by driving distance, but is in another county, or the only one in my county, which is further away, or if I’m just not in a parish boundary at all. Is that possible? to not have one?

ETA Well the Dicoese got back to me, the person who handles it is on vacation until June 17th, and will get back to me then. I guess I’ll find out sooner or later :slight_smile:

Some parish “boundaries” might not be geographic. For instance, St X parish includes all persons of Italian extraction, or all Italian Americans who live West of Main St. But perhaps even an ethnic defined parish might also have a small geographic area around it, for everyone who lives here.

There is no such thing as a parish without geographic boundaries. There are indeed personal parishes that are erected by competent ecclesiastical authority for a particular population, for example, but these still have boundaries. The parish’s boundaries could indeed be co-terminus with those of the diocese but the parishes still have geographic extension and geographic limitation. A parish cannot exceed the boundary of the diocese, or its canonical equivalent, of which it is a subordinate part.

My diocese’s website has maps of all parish boundaries under their jurisdiction. That may be a good place to start.

I tried that, but unless they hide it really well I can’t find it.

Here (in Indiana), parishes do not cross county lines. For me, that means I’m physically closer to 4 other parishes than my territorial one. Your cathedral may be your territorial parish. Our cathedral is a parish church as well, and this is also common practice here. (We don’t see a lot of cathedrals that aren’t also parish churches in this area.) It is not possible that you are outside of a territorial parish. Everyone falls under some parish’s “jurisdiction”, even if you aren’t aware of it.

Thanks, this was something that I was really wondering about.

I don’t live in a highly catholic area, by proportion. I live closer to tons of non catholic churches, but it’s not clear cut which parish I “belong” to. Assuming the county lines thing is correct, there are probably 3 or 4 that are closer to me as well! (I live at the other edge of the county).

Either call or email your diocesan offices. Let them know where you live, and if you have any ethnic\language\liturgical form affiliations. They will be able to direct you towards the proper parish.

Email is what I did. Took a wk or so but eventually I heard back.

The chancellor of the diocese would assuredly know. Boundaries are incorporated into the decree of erection of a parish by the bishop of the diocese.

If nothing else, the archivist of your diocese would also be able to tell you by consulting the original decrees…of course, account must be taken if the parish boundaries have been redrawn because of, for example, the subsequent erection of a new parish that is carved out of the territory of one or more existing parishes.

I had to look up on my diocese’s website for my territorial parish (since I had to ask permission to register at a different one that I’ve been going to since before RCIA). They didn’t have a map, but spelled out boundaries. Turned out I live at the extreme northern border of a parish I’d never heard of.

It might have been the case before, but now you don’t have to attend your territorial parish church. I picked the one I attend partially due to it having a lot of Masses so I can go even with my retail schedule.

I go to a lot of different churches for Mass, simply because the kids mess up my schedule. Well not a lot, maybe 2 or 3, but it feels like I just show up some places. Like yesterday I went to one I hadn’t been to in months, I always wonder if people notice. Probably not, it’s probably my anxiety.

Parish life is awesome, if you understand supremely and completely the divine architecture of life.

Misspriss, the only “silly” question is the question not asked.

Go where ever your heart leads you.( as long as it is Catholic). :slight_smile:

It does matter in a few cases. Marriage for example. It is not lawful to marry outside of one’s geographical parish without the consent of one’s canonical (territorial) pastor for example. Only your geographical pastor is obliged to baptize your children as well (though others could consent to do so).
For the past year I’ve lived an 8 minute walk from a particular parish. I’ve been operating under the assumption that I live within the parish boundaries, but it just occurred to me that a possible logical dividing line could be the major street I cross on my way to the church (I live one block east of said street and the parish is a few blocks west of it). If so, I have no idea where my territorial parish church would be.

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