QUAERITUR: Does registering in a parish mean anything?

From a reader:

What does canon law say about becoming a member of a parish outside of the geographical jurisdiction of the parish closest to you? For example: Joining another parish farther away from you, but in your diocese, because the Mass is more reverent/you receive spiritual direction from that pastor/you fit in culturally with the people at that parish, etc.?

Canon law says nothing about “joining” a parish. “Joining a parish” is a concept foreign to the canonical system.

You become a member of a parish by virtue of where you live.

If you belong to an ethnic or national group, there may also be a personal parish to which you belong.

Recently, bishops have erected “personal parishes” based on factors other than ethnicity.  For example, they may establish parishes for the deaf, for those devoted to the Extraordinary Form, for members of the charismatic movement, etc.  It is therefore possible for one person to “belong” to several parishes as in the case of a hearing-impaired traditionalist-charismatic Wendish-Laotian.

In North America parishes about 80 years ago began developing this concept of “registering”. As a “registered” member, you get envelopes and other mailings from the parish office, you are listed on the books for easy reference (handy in parishes of 1000 families or more where it’s unlikely that the pastor personally gets to know everyone … especially when the pastor is transferred every six years… but that’s another vat of borscht).

Registering does not in itself allow one to acquire any canonical rights at the parish where one registers. Registering at one parish does not it cause one to lose any rights they have at their proper parish.

Remember: there are rights and duties, too.

Catholics are no longer obliged to attend Mass regularly at their proper parish’s church. They may freely choose to attend a parish across town, in another village, even a parish of another ritual Church (e.g., you are a Latin Church Catholic but you like to attend the Divine Liturgy at the Ukrainian Catholic Church). You may attend a different church every Sunday if you wish.

That said, in North America there are good reasons for registering at a parish.  For example, you might have a pastor at your proper parish who doesn’t understand canon law and who refuses to offer sacramental or liturgical service to those folks who are not registered. He, of course, would be entirely in the wrong, but trying to argue over the matter as grandma is dying in the hospital is inconvenient at best.

Canon law doesn’t have anything to say about registering in a parish that is not one’s proper parish.  Therefore there is nothing wrong with doing so and it may be of advantage.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Father Z: Now onto the reverse of your answer – while you technically can’t be denied certain rights at your territorial parish under canon law, can (should?) you be denied rights at your registered parish (baptism, marriage, etc.) if the registered parish is not your territorial parish (or a personal one)?

  2. A few years ago, I contacted the chancery to find out which parish bounds I lived in. Everyone there (not including the bishop, whom I didn’t talk to) said I’m in whatever parish I’m registered at. I could not find a single person who even knew parishes had geographical boundaries.

  3. What about ‘discounts’ for the sacraments to registered parishioners? For example, the closest TLM community is 100 miles away. For the Marriage Rite, it is $1500 for non-registered Catholics, but only $700 for those who are registered for two years. The price is the same with or without a mass, low, sung, or Solemn. Considering that my local parish is free, it seems a little steep at $1500, and I’m sure that does not include choir costs (though they do have more than one fantastic choir). What are the regulations regarding such amounts as ‘required donations’? It’s making it difficult to plan frugally with a TLM wedding!

  4. “That said, in North America there are good reasons for registering at a parish. For example, you might have a pastor at your proper parish who doesn’t understand canon law and who refuses to offer sacramental or liturgical service to those folks who are not registered.”

    True Father. My old Novus Ordo parish that I left in my area for reasons of spiritual deficiency and a Lonergan Theology youth minister, is of the 6 surrounding Catholic parishes the one that looks the most “Traditional” in archetecture. All the others are modern archetecture outside and in. Many people were dying to have their wedding there for the sole purpose of aesthetics, so the pastor had to clamp down and issue that at least one side of the wedding party has to be registered there and attend a weekly Mass (at least for a time prior to the wedding) and that’s before the whole year long “process” (another kettle of beans I don’t want to rant about though it’s more than just that parish).

  5. NoTambourines says:

    If any parish is going to be strict about registration, they’d better have a good handle on their database. About a year and a half ago, a misspelling of my name in parish records got me a letter along the lines of: “Thank you for filling out [xyz form], but we have no record of your membership at this parish.”

    I’ve been an active and committed member of the parish for years, so I had to wait to cool down a bit before addressing the misunderstanding! They “found” me in their system, corrected their mistake, and my parish believes in my existence again.

  6. wmeyer says:

    NoTambourines, there is the additional problem that there may be separate databases for registration, for the parish directory, and for the business office. I have encountered here the problem (after moving) with letters and envelopes arriving, but the diocesan bulletin not arriving.

  7. Will D. says:

    There was a brouhaha a couple of years ago because Abp. Broglio of the Archdiocese for the (US) Military issued this letter which specified that military retirees had to join a civilian parish and get permission from that pastor for the military chaplain to celebrate the sacraments of baptism, matrimony or confirmation. I’m not sure how that works as of now, but it caused a lot of heartburn at the nearby military bases for a while.

  8. Eric Williams says:

    I have a pet theory that geographic parishes started losing significance (if not canonical status) when the automobile became affordable for average families (Around 80 years ago? Hmm…). Cars made the world smaller, allowing people to travel much farther in the same amount of time, with respect to walking or travelling by horse and carriage. Once people weren’t “stuck” with their local parishes, they could roam. This is both good and bad. The good is that we can escape bad liturgy or heterodox catechesis. The bad is that we can more easily seek out preachers who “tickle our ears”.

  9. eulogos says:

    What happens when one complicates this situation by registering in a parish in a different rite? I have been registered in on or the other of two Ruthenian parishes served by the same priest for something like six years now. My territorial parish (in the diocese of Rochester NY) still sends me the diocesan newspaper. I think they finally stopped sending me envelopes. I haven’t been there for several years. If I do attend a Latin rite parish it is usually the one which has the EF, or one close to my work which has a fairly traditionally celebrated Novus Ordo. (although it still has the bad music on Sunday.)

    At nearly 63 I am not likely to need to be married, or to have a child baptized. But what about when I die? When my mother in law died recently and there was no funeral-nothing at all, I told one of my children that when I die I want a funeral at my Byzantine parish, but if that is not possible, then I want a funeral in the old Latin mass, with black vestments and the Dies Irae. Either way, I told her, it will be a whole lot of Church!

    So when I ask for a Byzantine funeral, will they say no, you are canonically Latin? If so, I had better make my attendance at the EF more regular so the Fathers will be willing to have my funeral there. (Should I join that parish also? I do put money in the collection when I am there, usually a $20, but that doesn’t identify me as having been there.) I know, I am lucky to have such an embarrassment of riches in a nearby city that I can choose between the EF and the Liturgy of St. John C.

    I told my daughter that if I wind up having a funeral with Eagles Wings, I will come back from Purgatory and haunt them all!

    Susan Peterson

  10. dominic1955 says:

    “What about ‘discounts’ for the sacraments to registered parishioners? For example, the closest TLM community is 100 miles away. For the Marriage Rite, it is $1500 for non-registered Catholics, but only $700 for those who are registered for two years. The price is the same with or without a mass, low, sung, or Solemn. Considering that my local parish is free, it seems a little steep at $1500, and I’m sure that does not include choir costs (though they do have more than one fantastic choir). What are the regulations regarding such amounts as ‘required donations’? It’s making it difficult to plan frugally with a TLM wedding!”

    Sounds ridiculous to me. I had to practically force the priest at my TLM wedding to take the stipend (which was much less that $700) on the condition that if he didn’t want it to just give it to the church. Required donations, to me, smack of simony and we should fly even the appearance after all the Reformation hooplah and all.

    I understand the need to pay the bills and free up schedules, but its an hour or so. I also understand the pain in the neck of having people want to get married in a pretty church that they have no connection to or real respect for and I also get it that its an even bigger pain to get a Solemn High Mass together (which is one reason I opted for something farther down the solemnity scale, sacred ministers and a gaggle of servers do not grow on trees…). I think its totally acceptable to expect a couple wanting to get married at a particular parish to be registered or geographically part of the parish so as to weed out the ones who just want a pretty photo back drop. However, “charging” for a sacrament doesn’t seem like a smart way to do it…

  11. Ralph says:

    We are currently “registered” at two parishes.

    The first is our geographic parish, the second the parish where our children’s parochial school is located. We joined the first parish because it’s our geographic parish (and is awesome). We joined the second because if we register and donate a minimum amount, our parochial school offers a discount on multiple child tuition.

    We feel duty bound to continue to support our geographic parish, so we remain active there and continue to donate at the same amount as before. (plus, as I said, it’s awesome!)

  12. frRobertM says:

    I would just like to add that some dioceses do have the parish boundaries available on-line. The one that I work for, for example, is right on the front page! Just put your address in, click, and you get a map with the local schools and parishes. We have mapped the entire diocese that way!
    Don’t know if the link will work, but go to http://www.oakdiocese.org and click on “view map of diocese” in the center column.
    I would add that the person(s) in the know about boundaries would be the Canon Law or Tribunal office personnel, as they deal with these issues for marriages on a very regular basis.

  13. jenniphd says:

    Parish membership is an issue I’ve been praying about for over 2 years now. I had hoped to remain a member of our geographic parish which is dying from aging parishoners and changing neighborhood demographics. Our priest was to be retiring soon and the rumor was that the bishop would likely close the parish and have the 80 some members attend our “sister” parish across the street. My family tried to hang on and even increase membership in the parish, but the parish secretary was causing scandal and discord, so we had to quit the parish completely. The problem arose because we attend the TLM community which is in the sister parish, so is technically served by the same parish office. We have been unwilling/unable to join the TLM community because of this. [You still live within a territorial parish and you are always free to attend the TLM in a parish wherever it is.]

    A new priest will be coming in to parish A this summer, but I’m not sure how to handle approaching him or even if I should. I’d love to be a member of the TLM community, but don’t see how we can as long as that secretary is still creating scandal.

    Sorry for this rambly post. I’m tired from meningitis and wish only to serve Christ and His Church for as long as I still have life here on earth. It’s just not always as transparent how to do that as I’d like. Prayers for unity are welcome.

  14. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    “Registering does not in itself allow one to acquire any canonical rights at the parish where one registers.”

    Hmmm. Precisely because canon law says nothing about registering either way, I’d phrase this a bit more tentatively. It is a regular question among canonists, and we need to think it through carefully, else, some dangerous conclusions might be reached. I’m thinking, e.g. about weddings of couples whose connection to a parish is not territorial at all. Anyway, I’d go more slowly here.

  15. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    btw, and fwiw, i, too, have experienced living in a parish that, for the sake of soul and sanity, i had absolutely nothing to do with after a first or second Mass there, and I never thought again about them. certainly, territory is a default membership criterion, but less and less is it one in reality, and the law is, i think, behind the times here. i readily grant that we don’t want parishes based on income levels, or jobs, or sports teams, but, really, that is not what’s happening; instead parishes are falling out along liturgical and orthodoxy-of-preaching lines, and attendance shows it.

  16. Dr. Peters: The whole thing needs rethinking and revision, doesn’t it.

  17. skl says:

    The parish church I was attending up until very recently had in each Sunday bulletin a notice encouraging registration & stating quite explicitly that Marriage and Baptism would be available ONLY after being registered for 6 months. So I am a little confused: is that an exercise of pastor’s discretion, actually illicit, or something else entirely?

  18. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Fr.Z. Yes, I think it does,too.

  19. robtbrown says:

    Dr. Edward Peters says:

    . . . parishes are falling out along liturgical and orthodoxy-of-preaching lines, and attendance shows it.

    And that can vary with the pastor.

  20. NobisQuoQue says:

    Perhaps Dr. Peters could answer this question: I thought one had to get permission from one’s _territorial_ parish in order to get married in another parish. Something about the proper form for the Sacrament of Matrimony…. Is this true?

  21. This concept of jurisdiction probably is most important from the perspective of who can claim authority over an individual, and who gets responsibility for dealing with a problem. The idea that a person’s parish is where he happens to live is convenient and simple. As we know, however, it is most important when one needs infrequently needed sacraments or services. Other than that, it keeps multiple pastors from claiming the right to solicit the same people for money. It keeps a nutty pastor from unilaterally extending his parish to cover an entire dioceses. It ensures that someone can be held responsible for the spiritual care of every soul in a diocese and that none are disclaimed completely. It prevents one pastor form excommunicating someone and another pastor in a neighboring parish from declaring the excommunication void. Generally, it works in favor of the good order of the church.

    This is a good place to remind everyone that a Catholic should be registered in some parish, somewhere, and put every envelope in the collection, somehow, even if they go in bursts, even if only a dollar goes in the envelope. This is for practical reasons. For example, if one is asked to be a godparent, the only way anyone may have to verify a candidate’s good standing is to check envelope records. I don’t know if my pastor would know me from a hole in the ground, but if anyone wants to check, the paper trail is there, courtesy of my parents, who have put my envelopes in the local collection basket for me for the past 14 1/2 years. Now, people may gripe about this, saying “the Church is all about money,” but what other way is there? Surveillance cameras? An EZ-Pass worn over the head? Tattooed bar codes scanned by the ushers at the doors?

  22. kmcgrathop says:

    I have great sympathy for those who ‘travel around’ in search of better preaching or more reverent liturgy or more beautiful surroundings. I did it myself as a layman. Truth be told I went to a parish other than my ‘proper’ parish because I needed to find a church that was more handicapped accessible for my father. But it caused me no sadness that it was a more beautiful church with some fine preaching and an excellent choir.

    But what is a parish? According to Canon 515, a parish is ‘a definite community of the Christian faithful established on a stable basis within a particular church [i.e. a diocese].’ The phrase that strikes me is a ‘definite community of the Christian faithful.’ The beauty of the territorial parish is that it designates a ‘definite community’ – all the People of God west of Broad Street and south of Grand Avenue, for example. THAT community, which is a community already at many different levels – they shop in the same stores, go to the same schools, walk the same streets, deal with the same neighborhood problems, maybe work at the same jobs – they also exist as a community of faith and worship within their territorial parish.

    But the Church hopping mentality does not seem to create a ‘definite community.’ Rather, in the long run, it creates intentional communities, more along the lines of congregational (small ‘c’) churches, prone to fracture when the community no longer supplies the ‘need’ that brought it together in the first place. And trust me, Church-hopping knows neither north nor south, nor left nor right. I suspect the principal cause of Church-hopping is the time and/or length of the Mass, with aesthetic or doctrinal grounds falling a very distant second.

    Whatever the continuing status of the ‘proper’ parish, I think I can say pretty squarely that in reality, it is observed mainly in the breach. Intentionality and mobility (and masstimes.org) have made it so. Registration is simply a way for pastors to get SOME handle on their not very definite communities. But I think something important is being lost here.

  23. kmcgrathop says:

    Sorry I meant to include this in my post.

    An item from the Ministry of Silly Walks:


  24. lsclerkin says:

    The Holy Spirit just answered something I’ve asked myself for many months now. And he did it through you.
    I will now be joining a second parish -the Tridentine Mass parish here in Milwaukee. I belong to the magnificent Basilica of St. Josaphat in Milwaukee where the friars do say a reverent Novus Ordo.
    St. Stanislaus, where the TLM is said, is 5 blocks north. I attend both, learning all I can about the TLM. And, boy, do I feel the pull in my heart toward that.
    St. Stan’s could use my support, I think. I’ve asked the Holy Spirit where He wants me to be.
    I feel the pull to both places. You just confirmed and answered my heart.
    Thanks, Father. :)

  25. anilwang says:

    Dr. Edward Peters,

    I don’t think any solution will satisfy everyone, but the last thing we need is for people to be denied funerals, last rights, extreme unction, or baptisms because they don’t have the appropriate paper work or because the parish was sloppy about record keeping. Like it or not, territorial parishes are a good default. The only modifications that might be okay is if people can adjust their defaults, but if there is any confusion due to paper work, the default territorial parish must still be valid.

    If parishes are falling out along liturgical and orthodoxy-of-preaching lines, then this is the problem that needs fixing, not papering it over with.

  26. Jacob says:

    There are lots of hearing impaired traditionalist Catholics in Omaha. I say that with no intent of malice or humor.

  27. Gratias says:

    Registering means a lot. If, like me, you drive far (50 miles in my case in the City of Los Angeles now, a short time ago it took 75 miles) to get to the TLM once a month or more, you should definitely register in the TLM parish as well, get envelopes and contribute as much as you can afford. It is the best inducement for the diocesan priests to continue allowing the TLM. The pastor has complete control, as we learned the hard way when a Fr. Tom Elewaut expelled our EF from Mission San Juan Buenaventura in California after 15 years of every-Sunday masses. Give generously to your TLM parish, and you will naturally need receipts to deduce the contributions from income taxes. I do contribute to our OF parish as well. If you are sick you cannot drive 50 miles for extreme unction. Problem is I would really like a traditional funeral mass for myself, as a final contribution to the Church, but this is not allowed in OF parishes.

  28. Cafea Fruor says:

    I have a fairly different reason for registering in & attending a parish other than where I should be geographically: Neighborhood. My own neighborhood is decent, but that parish is over 4 miles away and is not in a safe neighborhood, given some gang activity and such in the vicinity. And I take the bus, which runs only once an house on Sundays, so, especially as a young woman, I’d be a sitting duck at the stop after Mass. I did try the parish out when I first moved to my place, but after being hit up for money by a pair of pushy drunks while I sat at the stop, I decided safety was a sufficient reason to go elsewhere. Aside from Sunday Mass, if I ever attended parish events at night, that would be worse, considering that the bus home would drop me off 2/3 of a mile from my home — and I don’t want to walk at night alone.

  29. Paul M. says:

    Some dioceses have particular law on the effects of parochial registration. For instance, the diocese of Austin’s particular law apparently allows for persons living outside of the territory of the parish to nevertheless become parishioners by registration.


    The particular law there also, thankfully, affirms that “formal registration may never be required as a prerequisite for the faithful to share in the sacramental life of the Church in their local [territorial] parish.”

  30. robtbrown says:

    I have never registered in a parish.

  31. “Catholics are no longer obliged to attend Mass regularly at their proper parish’s church.”

    Was that once the case that we had to attend in our own local proper parish? I can imagine it being the norm when travel was difficult – currently we are non-explicitly required to attend Mass on this planet and not on a space ship, and as Fr Z’s recent post points out, Mass on sea ships and moving vehicles was limited at one time to cardinals and bishops. Was the limitation to the local parish for such practical reasons, or was there another reason for that limitation (probably also practical in some way)?

  32. Fr AJ says:

    dominic1955, I know plenty of guys who will put a high fee schedule on for use of the parish church for weddings to discourage non-parishioners. As far as having a fee for the use of the church, sadly many are clueless about the fact it’s takes money to pay the electric bill, etc., and wouldn’t give the parish anything for a wedding. I don’t at this time believe in asking for any fees and my two parishes usually get $0 for weddings and funerals. One time I drove 6 hours to do a wedding for a parishioner, they gave that parish nothing and me nothing for my gasoline. As I said, clueless. Several of those, and you see why the pastor gets disgusted and fees for use of the building start appearing in print.

  33. BLB Oregon says:

    It probably also depends on the policies of your bishop or archbishop. In the Archdiocese of Portland, for instance, the published policy document on marriage say that “Couples may be required to register in their parish as part of their preparation for marriage; but they may not be refused the sacrament because of a prior failure to register in their parish” and “People who live within the physical boundaries of a parish have a right to marry in that church—even if they do not regularly attend that church or are not registered in that parish…For the purpose of celebrating marriage, couples who regularly attend Mass at a parish should be treated has having “domicile” in that parish even if they live outside the physical boundaries of that parish.”

    With regards to funerals, the policy includes this: “Parish clergy should make a reasonable effort to respond to the request of any family requesting a funeral even if they are not members of the parish. He may inform the proper pastor when appropriate. When it is not possible to respond to a family’s request, the priest/deacon should assist them in contacting their proper parish or a priest able to assist the family.”

    I don’t believe there are similar published policies in our archdiocese with regards to the sacraments of initiation, but it is very helpful when the local bishop has very clear guidelines about what is expected of both the parishes and the faithful.

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  35. BLB Oregon says:

    –“I have never registered in a parish.”–

    It is thoughtful to give the parish staff our addresses and contact information. We all have duties to perform within our parishes, and it is easier for them if they can find us when duty calls. I don’t think “registration” means any more than that–that is, once you’ve done whatever is necessary to get onto the parish address list, that’s about all “registration” means.

  36. BLB Oregon says:

    Speaking of thoughtful, it is a good thing when you change parishes to contact the parish you are leaving, to let them know to take you off of their rolls. It helps with planning and it saves them not only the postage but the time it takes to get communications to you. The volunteers who would have been stuffing envelopes with letters you are never going to answer will thank you!

  37. Perhaps people concurrently registered in two parishes–or even three, as I once was–are much needed to balance out those Catholics who are registered nowhere.

    Of course, it might be even better if all registered Catholics were real Catholics (in belief and practice). Hmm, might one say that of parishes and pastors as well as of individual parishioners?

  38. dominic1955 says:

    Fr. AJ

    I get that, but then it seems that you guys need to do a better job of educating the people that the laborer is worthy of his hire and that one shall not muzzle the ox that treads the grain, the Levite eats from the Altar. I grew up with the concept of stipends for all church things as a given, and it should be pretty generous. If this custom has died, it needs to be preached again.

    I can see where priests might want to start “charging” for the “venue”, especially amongst people who seem oblivious to the proper Catholic custom of stipends because a) the ignorant see charging for venues as something normal and b) the ignorant won’t make the connection for charging for the venue with simony like I am. Still, people do make that connection frequently and it would be a most unfortunate one.

  39. Charivari Rob says:

    “Was that once the case that we had to attend in our own local proper parish?”

    I recall my parents telling me that when they married and bought their first house in Stamford, CT in the mid-60s, they expected to attend a particular church that was closest to the house and a priest friend of theirs was pastor. They were surprised to find out that they were actually in the territory of a different parish – and the message they received was they were supposed to register/attend the territorial parish.

  40. Supertradmum says:

    I am going to be in the minority here, but I can understand registration as a necessity, but not to be totally exclusive. As someone involved in sacramental prep, I can say that sacramental prep is absolutely necessary for parents for baptism, reconciliation, Holy Communion, confirmation and marriage and all this should take longer than six months. The ignorance of most adults requires this teaching, and unless there is registration, one cannot teach properly, nor would people come.
    Gone are the days when parents bring a baby in for baptism knowing their faith in most parishes.

    Also, the Church in England is dirt poor because people do not tithe nor are they asked to tithe. Churches need to keep track of tithing for the benefit of the entire Catholic community. Registration helps with tithing as well.

  41. Supertradmum says:

    PS as to fees for weddings, is that for the choir and the flowers? I am intrigued by those fees, as most parishes only charge for the organist, and choirs.

  42. Supertradmum says:

    Sorry to stuff the combox, but some dioceses in America are considering a two-year program for RCIA, which I am all for, in order not to rush and to separate those who really want to be Catholics from those who are not serious. How does one teach the Creed in three weeks? Registration helps with all of these processes.

  43. wmeyer says:

    A two year RCIA program could be good. Depends on whether they teach what the Church teaches, or that feel-good spirit of Vatican II nonsense. I spent two years in RCIA, a one year program, while waiting for the Tribunal to…. Anyway, it was highly repetitive, and made no reference to the CCC. Instead, we got Catholic Update, and handouts written by Sr. Joan and by Fr. Richard Rohr.

    As you may imagine, I am not impressed with that program. Not being new to Church teaching, and having had my own copy of the CCC, I was not damaged by it, just annoyed.

    I know there are good materials available, and if a parish can’t afford more, even the Baltimore Catechism, downloaded for free, and printed as cheaply as possible would have been far superior to articles by Sr. Joan.

  44. Mary Jane says:

    “PS as to fees for weddings, is that for the choir and the flowers? I am intrigued by those fees, as most parishes only charge for the organist, and choirs. I am intrigued by those fees, as most parishes only charge for the organist, and choirs.”

    I would imagine those fees are not for the choir and the flowers… At our parish the choir and organist are paid separate from the church/father. When my husband and I were married we gave a stipend to the church, one to Father, one to the organist/choir director, and a small one to each of the servers.

  45. Nan says:

    Eulogos, Catholic is Catholic. You don’t have to be Ruthenian to be a member of a Ruthenian parish. So long as your family and the priest know your intention you should be fine. I’m not an expert but Canon law is silent on parish according to a canon lawyer at our chancery.

    Re: Weddings, my parish is the mother ship so a lot of people want to be married there because it’s beautiful or they want to say they were married in the Cathedral; however, they have no intention to raise their children at the parish. One of the two must be a registered Catholic at some parish (crazy thing, often non-Catholics want to get married there and are shocked that it isn’t an option). The fee is $2500 and the date must be chosen a year in advance. Unless you’re a parishioner, in which case the fee is reduced and the dates are more flexible. The church is huge and there’s a parish wedding planner involved to make sure everything runs smoothly.

    Occasionally I hear stories of people who don’t follow Church teaching and are shocked to learn that living together isn’t an option if they’re getting married at the parish. One couple was astonished to learn that they couldn’t get a priest for their outdoor wedding on a local island.

  46. Catholics are no longer obliged to attend Mass regularly at their proper parish’s church.

    Any reference, especially in regard to Canon 518?

  47. Imrahil says:

    Can 518 has nothing to do with Mass attendance.

  48. Good point. Didn’t notice that.

    Is there a part of Canon law that does have to do with Mass attendance?

  49. robtbrown says:

    In 1970 while at KU, a friend and I were thinking about converting. I told him I would call to ask about what was then known as inquiry classes. I did, and the priest assured me that no one was obligated to convert–then he asked my name. I gave him my friend’s name.

    Later, I told my friend that he was scheduled to attend the class the following Tuesday. When he asked me whether I was going, I told him that unfortunately, it conflicted with an intramural basketball game.

    He became Catholic some weeks later. Last month he celebrated the 30th anniversary of his priestly ordination.

  50. Cincinnati Priest says:

    Several comments from the perspective of a priest pastor, and considering the reality of the priest shortage and an increasing “consumer goods” mentality among Catholics:

    Schools: Unfortunately, many Catholics will ‘use’ a parish. Join a parish just long enough so they can send their children to the school (heavily subsidized by parish Sunday collection, mostly from parishioners who don’t have school-age children), then return to their previous parish which has the convenience of a shorter Mass, etc. the minute their child finishes 8th grade.

    Weddings: Never ceases to amaze me how many people complain so frequently about ‘high fees’ (actually suggested donations) parishes charge for weddings. The average couples spends literally tens of thousands on wedding dresses, reception, photographs, party favors, etc. and then grouses about donating a few hundred to the Church, while saying nothing about the lavish spending on the peripheral stuff. One post-er mentioned that the wedding is “just an hour or so.” Wow! In most dioceses, the priest spends a great deal of time with couples, meeting several times personally with them to help prepare them spiritually for the wedding, spread out over multiple appointments, filling out detailed paperwork for the diocese (necessary in case there is a request for a declaration of nullity later), reviewing pre-marital inventories to help them spot potential trouble spots, and more. Additionally, there are often teams of people who set up the Church for the wedding, help the bridesmaids get settled, conduct practices, etc. Many wedding parties leave the place a complete mess afterward, leaving hours of work for the maintenance men. They often tie up the Church for hours on end on the wedding day itself with music practices, decorating etc. (often disregarding the desire for people to pray and ignoring the presence of the Blessed Sacrament). I have had many occasions where I told wedding parties several times they need to be completed with the post-wedding photographs by a certain time, to accommodate confessions and Vigil Masses, which was completely disregarded, because they wanted to use the Church primarily as a photo backdrop and get the perfect photo album. You get the idea. Hardly “an hour or so.” The very small amount parishes charge for weddings is an absolute token compared to the great deal of time spent by the priest and many other parties, all things considered.

    Funerals: Many parishes, especially those that are aging, have multiple funerals per week. In my own parish, with not infrequent requests for funerals on the same day. We frequently get requests for funerals for people who have been living out of state for decades, perhaps having gone to school in the parish 50 years ago or more. We try to accommodate of course, but sometimes have to make difficult decisions about whether to give preference for that day to currently registered parishioners over someone with a much more tenuous connection to the parish.

    Bottom line: In an age of parish-hopping & shopping / consumer mentality among parishioners, parish registration can be an ‘economic’ necessity. (Using ‘economic’ in the broadest sense – not dollars and cents, but best allocation of scarce resources, including the priest’s time in parishes where there used to be 3 priests but where one priest is now trying to do it all).

    While the parish of course makes every effort to meet the sacramental needs of all its people, it is not at all unreasonable to give certain concessions and preferences to people who take the trouble to register and have a current and ongoing relationship with the parish, over those who just happen to show up out of the blue.

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