Let the parish stretch your family

How do you know when it’s time to join a parish or change parishes? In my parents’ generation, you joined the nearest parish as soon as you moved into an area and stayed there until you moved out (or died). It’s a more fluid situation today. While each diocese still delineates parishes by neighborhood streets, it is not unusual for people to continue attending a parish even after they move out of the parish boundaries.

I know more than a few families who drive past three or four Catholic churches on their way to their “home” parish. Parishes have different personalities, different styles of song, and different populations of people. While some people are fortunate enough to feel that their neighborhood parish fits them, others find that they may need to drive across town to be spiritually fed.

While today’s flexibility in parish membership can allow people to find a parish with a better fit, this flexibility has a flip side—it’s easy not to commit to a parish at all. And while a certain amount of “parish shopping” is healthy for young adults and those just beginning their faith journey, children flourish in their faith when they feel grounded in a place to worship and among a community of people they know.

“Once we started having kids, it became a lot more important to us to join a parish,” says Kate, mother of two. “We ended up in a place very different from what we might have imagined: a multicultural parish with many languages that can be sort of chaotic at times, but it’s been a wonderful place for our kids to grow up. What’s really great is that our kids have independent relationships with a lot of people there—other kids and grownups. They are members in their own right, which is how it ought to be.”      …continued next week        

—by Annemarie Scobey  from the pages of At Home with Our Faith, Claretian Publications’ print newsletter for parents on nurturing spirituality in the home. Winner of the 2010 and 2011 General Excellence award from the Catholic Press Association. Here’s a sample issue.

We offer very low rates for parish use, as well as our free Moms’ Night Out monthly discussion guides.

And don’t miss our popular single-page parish handouts on handing on the faith, helping kids understand the Mass, Lent, and Advent.

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