What makes you a member of a parish


#1

This evening I met with the priest who is temporarily looking after our parish while Fr. is on holidays to brief him on tomorrow’s Baptism. Something he said really surprised me.

My parish is the only Catholic parish in town. Twenty six miles away is a reserve with its own parish. It’s their administrator who is looking after my parish. A couple of hundred miles away is another reserve with its own priest.

The parents of the baby to be baptized are an Indigenous couple living in our town. He is originally from the distant reserve and she’s originally from the closer reserve. Father suggested that to baptize the baby he needs the permission of the priest from the reserve where the father is from because according to Canon Law he doesn’t become a member of our parish until he’s been living here at least a year. That seemed wrong but I wasn’t going to argue with him.

When I said, “I’ve moved many times in my lifetime and always considered myself a member of the parish where I was living, not of the parish that I left,” his reply was, “Yes but as a a a good Catholic you informed the priest that you were now living there and he did the necessary paperwork.” What???

I never informed a priest that I was a new parishioner. It’s only in this parish that “registration” was ever brought up. The priests usually figured it out when I started volunteering for things like reading and parish council.

Has anyone ever heard this before?


#2

Geographical location makes you the member of a parish.

In the US, we parish personel tend to confuse the issue by calling the folks in our database “parish members”.

Your priest is right.


#3

Exactly, geography. The family lives in our town, within our parish boundaries, about 2 miles from the church, not on either of the reserves. Why would they still be considered members of the Reserve parish. They don’t live there.


#4

Sounds as if the Bishop may have made these residency time guide. I’d just call the Chancery on Monday.


#5

I don’t really care, as long as the baby, who has medical issues, is baptized tomorrow. I thought it was weird that because they are not faithful attenders they are not considered members of the parish for a year but I was considered a member upon arrival because I’m a faithful Catholic. That doesn’t seem to be what Canon Law says but I’m no canon lawyer. And right now we’re between Bishops.


#7

Hmm… are you certain?

In the case of marriage, the priest being asked to celebrate the marriage must get the permission of the pastor of those being married.

In the case of baptism, a priest cannot baptize outside of his territory without permission of the resident pastor.

The priest of the parish where the baptism will take place doesn’t need the permission of the person’s pastor. If the person’s pastor wished to come into the other parish, he’d need permission of the pastor of the parish where he wanted to baptize.

So… are you certain? :thinking:


#8

She’s correct that a priest is not supposed to baptize anyone who is a member of another parish without their pastor’s permission. That’s why when I prepare a family for the baptism of their child I make certain that they take a letter with them granting them Fr. permission if they are going, say, back to their hometown to have their baby baptized. But in this case the family lives here, in the parish.


#9

This is a key point. I wonder if @acanonlawyer can give input on this.


#10

One community. Only one parish.


#11

See Can. 107 in particular. The others are for definition of status.

CIC (Latin Canon Law)

Can. 100 A person is said to be: a resident (incola) in the place where the person has a domicile; a temporary resident (advena) in the place where the person has a quasi-domicile; a traveler (peregrinus) if the person is outside the place of a domicile or quasi-domicile which is still retained; a transient (vagus) if the person does not have a domicile or quasi- domicile anywhere.

Can. 102 §1. Domicile is acquired by that residence within the territory of a certain parish or at least of a diocese, which either is joined with the intention of remaining there permanently unless called away or has been protracted for five complete years.

§2. Quasi-domicile is acquired by residence within the territory of a certain parish or at least of a diocese, which either is joined with the intention of remaining there for at least three months unless called away or has in fact been protracted for three months.

§3. A domicile or quasi-domicile within the territory of a parish is called parochial; within the territory of a diocese, even though not within a parish, diocesan.

Can. 106 Domicile and quasi-domicile are lost by departure from a place with the intention of not returning, without prejudice to the prescript of can. 105.

Can. 107 §1. Through both domicile and quasi-domicile, each person acquires his or her pastor and ordinary.

§2. The proper pastor or ordinary of a transient is the pastor or local ordinary where the transient is actually residing.

§3. The proper pastor of one who has only a diocesan domicile or quasi-domicile is the pastor of the place where the person is actually residing.


#12

So, they’re living here, this is their parish.


#13

Depends on their plans. If they plan on moving shortly then they would not be considered parishoners.

With the one year I wonder if there may be an Eastern rite parish involved.


#14

We don’t have parish registration here in the UK . You are just a member of the parish where you live .

I moved into my present parish just over three years ago . I already knew a few people , but as far as the parish priest is concerned it’s a matter of making yourself known to him .


#15

In the USA, the parishes are often large and have so many people coming and going that the priest can’t really know everybody who’s a member. Also, people don’t tend to be diligent about updating their registration records.

One way they do keep track, and I have heard this from priests, is to look and see if you’ve made regular financial contributions in a trackable way (check, online donation, envelope with your name on it) and for how long. If you have been giving to them for X number of years then you’re on their radar as a parishioner. I am rarely physically “in” my parish of record but I contribute to them every month via online donation, and therefore when I called them up to ask about a memorial service for my late husband, the lady knew who I was immediately and helped me right away.


#16

Father is wrong:

Can. 100 A person is said to be: a resident ( incola ) in the place where the person has a domicile; a temporary resident ( advena ) in the place where the person has a quasi-domicile; a traveler ( peregrinus ) if the person is outside the place of a domicile or quasi-domicile which is still retained; a transient ( vagus ) if the person does not have a domicile or quasi- domicile anywhere

Can. 107 §1. Through both domicile and quasi-domicile, each person acquires his or her pastor and ordinary.

Again, wrong. There is no paperwork.

You aren’t crazy. He’s wrong.


#17

No, I can guarantee no Eastern Rite involvement.


#18

My input is simply this: this is a … fascinating statement. I’ve never before heard of anything like it.

Dan


#19

Yes. The complexity comes only when there is still domicile or quasi-domicile in another place: a traveler.


#20

I don’t think that it was general canon law which was prohibiting the priest from the baptism, but rather it was the canonical status of the reserve. Most Native American reserves fall outside of the purview of the general parochial system. He may be referring to canon law, not with regards to parochial lines, but the requirements dealing with native missionary activity. Many times the mission is designated to a people or tribe rather than a strict territorial boundary, thus coming in conflict with the territorial parochial system. My own Order comes in contact with this differentiation in our missionary work with the ethnic Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The primary church of our mission has been given status within the diocese equal to that of a parish, but it still falls within the canon law requirements for missionary work.

According to canon law, members of missionary activity are supposed to be enrolled in the registers for Sacraments of Initiation specifically designated for the missions.

Can. 788 §1. When the period of the precatechumenate has been completed, those who have made known their intention to embrace faith in Christ are to be admitted to the catechumenate in liturgical ceremonies and their names are to be inscribed in the book designated for this [missionary] purpose.
Added for clarification from previous Canon

So too, does Can. 790 §1 describe the authority to protect, regulate and control the activities in missionary areas.

Can. 790 §1. It is for the diocesan bishop in the territories of a mission:
1/ to promote, direct, and coordinate endeavors and works which pertain to missionary action;
2/ to take care that appropriate agreements are entered into with moderators of institutes which dedicate themselves to missionary work and that relations with them result in the good of the mission.

It could be very well that the Bishop has ruled that when both parents of a child are tribal citizens and move away from a reservation, it takes a year until their names are able to be transferred from the missionary rolls to parochial ones. In this case, the priest may be correct in a sense, it would be canon law holding the ruling of the bishop in force, even if that ruling isn’t explicitly laid out in the canons.

God Bless,
Br. Ben, CRM


#21

As far as I understand Canon Law you are a member of the parish where you have your domicile. If the parents intend to live permanently where they now live that is their domicile. They are canonical members of the territorial parish in which they reside.

The only issue I can think of is with respect to their reserve parishes. If they are personal parishes rather than territorial ones the parents may still belong to one of those personal parishes.

Whilst I would not advocate not following Canon law I think the baptism would only be illicit rather than invalid if the child was baptised by a priest other than the parents’ proper parish priest. As you mention the child has health problems I would have thought the urgency to get the child baptised would trump the niceties of whose parish they belong to.

Perhaps a call to the diocesan chancery may be in order. Chancellors are often canon lawyers and they may be able to clear the situation up.


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