The Catholic Parish

Although they are members of the world’s largest Christian church and shepherded by their diocesan bishop, Catholics gather to worship God, learn about their faith, and receive the sacraments in a local community of believers called a parish.

More than just a local church, a Catholic Parish is a geographic area served by a pastor and consisting of at least one church building as a site of worship. Parishes may include schools, religious communities, and service organizations.

Each parish has a pastor, the main priest who tends the needs of the people in the parish by teaching, sanctifying, and governing. He may be assisted by associate pastors or parochial vicars, as well as deacons and lay members of the parish.

Under the direction of the local bishop, the pastor is responsible for the religious formation and spiritual growth and well-being of all those souls who live within the borders of parish, whether they are Catholic or not.

Catholic parishes may expand or shrink depending on the population of Catholics and number of priests in the region. The bishop may divide growing parishes into new parishes while parishes with a decrease in population may be combined together.

While most Catholic parishes serve areas made up of diverse cultures and ethnicities, some Catholic parishes are created to meet the unique needs of one particular culture.

The name of a parish is determined by the local bishop. Parishes are usually named after a person of the Holy Trinity, a divine mystery, a title of the Virgin Mary, a patron saint, or a Catholic devotion.

The parish is more than just the church:

Glen Thompson

Where Catholics experience the fullness of the Church:

Divine Grace Parish PGH

A stable community of the Christian faithful:


They devoted themselves to the teaching of the Apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, and many wonders and signs were done through the Apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need. Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes. They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart, praising God and enjoying favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

Acts 2: 42-47

A Catholic community of exiles:

Catholic Productions

“A parish is a definite community of the Christian faithful established on a stable basis within a particular church; the pastoral care of the parish is entrusted to a pastor as its own shepherd under the authority of the diocesan bishop.” It is the place where all the faithful can be gathered together for the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist. The parish initiates the Christian people into the ordinary expression of the liturgical life: it gathers them together in this celebration; it teaches Christ’s saving doctrine; it practices the charity of the Lord in good works and brotherly love: You cannot pray at home as at church, where there is a great multitude, where exclamations are cried out to God as from one great heart, and where there is something more: the union of minds, the accord of souls, the bond of charity, the prayers of the priests.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 2179

Vibrant communities and vibrant parishes:

Our Campaign for the Church Alive

The spirit of a Christian community:

Godsplaining | Catholic Podcast

Catholic parishes serve the local community:

Archdiocese of Brisbane

But because it is impossible for the bishop always and everywhere to preside over the whole flock in his Church, he cannot do other than establish lesser groupings of the faithful. Among these the parishes, set up locally under a pastor who takes the place of the bishop, are the most important: for in some manner they represent the visible Church constituted throughout the world. And therefore the liturgical life of the parish and its relationship to the bishop must be fostered theoretically and practically among the faithful and clergy; efforts also must be made to encourage a sense of community within the parish, above all in the common celebration of the Sunday Mass.

Pope Paul VI, Sacrosanctum Concilium, 4 December 1963

The pastor cares for the spiritual needs of his parish:

Hamilton Vocations

The parish priest serves the community:

Catholic News Herald, Diocese of Charlotte

The Truth, Goodness, and Beauty of the Catholic Church

Those people are proof of Jesus’ Church:

The Coming Home Network International

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