Of Christians Who Won’t Settle Down In Any One Parish
Recently I was having a chat with a friend and because I was thinking about this editorial I asked her, “Which parish do you belong to?”
“I am registered at the Consolata Shrine,” she answered.
I was surprised because we both live some distance from Westlands where the Consolata Shrine is located, and I have met her several times at the Church in our neighbourhood.
“But when did you last attend Mass at Westlands?” I asked.
“Sometimes because of time, and the long commute I go to any nearby Church, but the shrine is my Church. That is where I belong,” she said.
“Parish-hopping” is a phenomenon common especially in urban areas where churches are within walking distance or a short drive from each other.
It is not uncommon to find catholic faithful who don’t really belong to any specific parish but go to different ones depending on different circumstances that are particular to the faithful.
We could say that the trend is common among young adults as they change jobs and move to different estates within the same city. Often, they will be moving to different parishes, not registering with any, or just keeping membership of the old parish.
Ideally, your parish is the one whose territory includes your place of residence (except for non-territorial parishes). The Canon law states that each person acquires his or her pastor and ordinary according to the place of residence. In other words, your parish is where you live. However, canon law does not mandate you to register or attend Mass at the parish that is nearest to your home. Any Catholic can go to any Catholic church.
What Is The Point Of Registering In A Parish?
Registering in a parish brings a sense of belonging, an identity within the parish community. When you worship with a regular community of people, they get to know you, and you get to know them and you care for each other.
It also allows the parish priest to know his flock and attend to their spiritual needs. The data helps a bishop determine how many priests to assign to a parish, as well as the number of Masses to be offered.
For example, Fr Jackson Murugara, the Parish Priest at Consolata Shrine, notes that the majority of those who attend Sunday Mass at the Shrine are not registered members of the Consolata Shrine Parish and so it is not easy to know exactly how many people belong to the Church.
“Consolata Shrine is within the central deanery. Most of the Christians within the central deanery have no specific church where they go. Because the Churches are near each other, they move from one Church to the other depending on availability and also the time of Mass. There are quite a number who have not yet identified themselves with a particular parish, which we urge people to identify themselves and register in a particular parish for other spiritual services in the Church,” he says.
Except for personal parishes, the Code of Canon Law — (Can.518) says a parish is to embrace all of the faithful within a given territory. This comes with certain rights and responsibilities. Regardless of whether or not the faithful in his territory are officially registered in the parish, the priest has a canonical duty when called upon to provide them with pastoral care.
The faithful too, are obligated to provide for the needs of the church, “so that the Church has what is necessary for divine worship, for the works of the apostolate and of charity, and for the decent support of ministers,” (Can. 222).