December 17, 2017
Dear Parishioners: Here is a third and final report from some of the results of the first survey the Parish Pastoral Council and I published in October. We asked whether people are registered in the parish or not. Two thirds responded that they are. Among those that are not registered, the reasons given included, that they did not know that they had to register, or where and how they could register. I should note that those who live in our parish boundaries don’t have to register. In fact, registering at a parish may well be an “American thing”. It’s not discussed in the Church’s Canon Law.
According to Canon Law (#518), anyone who lives within our parish boundaries (the 90041 area code and a few other streets around that area code) are by definition members of the parish. Those who live outside our boundaries (and you can find them HERE on our website) are similarly, by definition, members of other parishes. Of course, people cross parish boundaries to attend Mass all the time these days, for a variety of reasons. This is easy to do in our densely populated urban area. In fact, 1/3 of the respondents said that St. Dominic’s is not the only parish where they regularly attend Mass. They attend Masses at other parishes for a variety of reasons, including distance, convenience of Mass times, and the fact that members of their families attend those parishes.
Belonging to a territorial parish includes certain rights and obligations outlined in canons 208-223 of the Code of Canon Law. These include the right to the spiritual goods of the Church, to associate as laity for the purposes of charity, piety or the promotion of the Christian vocation, the right to a Christian education and instruction in the faith (like our RE and Confirmation programs), and the obligation to assist with the needs of the Church so that the parish has what is necessary for worship, the works of the apostolate and charity, and for the support of ministers.
For example, a Catholic has the right to a funeral Mass in his parish church, regardless of whether he has regularly been attending that church (c. 1177.1). Canon 857.2, states that as a rule, a person is supposed to be baptized in his own parish, unless a just reason suggests otherwise. If a person is baptized elsewhere, it will not affect the validity of the baptism, but the same cannot be said for the celebration of a marriage. Catholics who wish to marry are required to marry in the parish church of one of the spouses—or in the Catholic spouse’s parish, if it is a mixed marriage (c. 1108.1). If they do not, and do not obtain permission in advance to marry elsewhere, the marriage is actually illicit! These canons that refer to a person’s parish always refer to the territorial parish of the Catholic person, not “where we always go to Mass” or “used to go to Mass.” This holds for parishioners’ adult children, too. An adult child living outside their parents’ home and in a different parish, belongs to that different parish. To be married here requires permission of the proper pastor and is normally readily granted.
Even though registration is not a part of Canon law, it is helpful for a few reasons! With so many parishioners, I do not recognize everyone, and if you call and ask for baptism, marriage, confirmation, or a funeral and don’t live in our parish boundaries, we are more likely to fulfill another pastor’s obligation if we know you are registered and have been supporting the parish. If you need a letter to be a sponsor or godparent, registering helps me know you consider St. Dominic’s your parish – and if you don’t live in our parish boundaries, registering may be the only way I can vouch that you are a parishioner. Our database can include helpful information, like your job skills. If we need an attorney, a caregiver, a data entry specialist, or a custodian, I would much prefer hiring (and paying) a parishioner. The same is true for making recommendations to parishioners who are looking for these and other service providers. If you use envelopes or support the parish through checks or credit card, at the end of the year we can provide statements indicating charitable donations you can deduct for your tax purposes.
You can register in person in the office, or online HERE or download a registration form at www.saintdominics.org/I-am-new. We will have another survey soon, and I hope you participate as we lay the foundation for a parish pastoral plan.