(Closed) How often do you have to go to church to be a parishoner?

posted 5 years ago in Catholic
Post # 3
3697 posts
Sugar bee

Technically, and traditionally, Catholics are automatically “members” of the parish whose territory they live in (whether they know it or not!), even if they’ve never set foot in the church building. Not many Catholics even know this nowadays, but parishes are geographic divisions of a diocese, similar to how counties are geographic divisions of states. You automatically have a default parish based on where you live, and you have the right under Canon Law to access the sacraments there. So if the churches in your area have strict “members only” policies for weddings, there will be one church that has to acknowledge you as a member based on where you live, guaranteed. They may have other requirements they want you to fulfill before they will marry you, but they have to treat you as members (from the time you moved to the area) and not outsiders.

Nowadays, though, that’s definitely not the only way to become a member of a parish. Many, many Catholics choose to attend a parish other than the one where they live, for any number of reasons. If you want to affiliate yourselves with a parish, they generally will have you fill out a form to register as a member. Once you’re registered, you will get offering envelopes that you can use to establish that you are contributing to the church and you might get on mailing lists for the bulletin or for organizations that you indicated you might be interested in.

There is no hard-and-fast answer for how long/how many times you need to go to Mass at a parish to be a member. Nobody takes individual attendance at Mass, etc. and depending on the size of the congregation, the priest may or may not see you there and get to know you. The most important thing for you guys, I’d say, would be to start visiting some churches in your area and try to find one that you like. If it happens to be the one right where you live, then you are a step ahead. If you live outside the parish boundaries, ask them about the registration process and how long you would have to be members before you could have your wedding there. (Typically churches require 6 mos. to a year) In either case, get your names on the parish rolls and start using your offering envelopes to make contributions (even small ones) to help support the community. Parishes are wary of couples who show up just to celebrate their wedding but then disappear; if you get yourselves on record as contributing parishioners, even if it’s small, that will go a long way toward helping your case, and using the envelopes (rather than just putting cash in the collection plate) ensures that your contribution gets credited to your names.

I hope you find a church that you really like and that can help you grow closer to your faith!


Post # 5
2126 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2012

oh geez..christmas and easter? trust me, there’s no one keeping track of how often you come…or don’t come. My church just required that I register as a member in order for them to handle all the details of our wedding….I literally filled out a paper with our info..that’s it. 

Post # 6
347 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: April 2010

@Birdiebaby4:  Being a parishioner is a matter of being within that parish’s territory or being registered at the parish.  It is not a matter of how often you go to Mass.

That said, typically parishioner discounts are given only to couples who’ve been members of a parish for say a specified amount of time.  The general idea is that the parish doesn’t want to be used as a wedding chapel.  Thus those who’ve been involved in the parish and weren’t hunting down the parish for a wedding location are given a discount.  The intent is not to motivate couples to delay marrying for the sake of getting the discount.

That said, there is no reason a church wedding has to be insanely expensive.  A friend of mine spent only about $3,000 on her church wedding – complete with borrowed wedding gown that she did the alterations on herself, two bridesmaid and a cray paper reception with cold cuts in the church basement, and no professional photographer.

Maybe you don’t want to go down that cheaply.  Well, I spent about $8,000 on my wedding.   (US average is 25K) and here are a few pictures from my wedding.  

Not on the picture below:  I originally had 4 bridesmaids: my sister, my sister-in-law, and two friends.  My sister-in-law without a specific reason indicated she simply had trouble saying no and didn’t want to be in the wedding.  One friend was offered a job interview the weekend of my wedding and had to take it.  The other friend turned out to be a drama queen and tried to use the bridesmaid position to blackmail me.  I was able to replace one of the lost bridesmaids and at the last minute the blackmailing bridesmaid decided she wanted to be in the wedding. As such, I had three, potentially two bridesmaids and four groomsmen.  I thus worked it out that one or two groomsmen would be more like head ushers.  Since the drama queen ended up not bailing out at the last minute.  I ended up doing was having the Best man and the groom come in from the side.  The spare groomsmen than ushered my maid of honor and took his seat.  Then the rest were all paired coming down the aisle.  I only had the best man and maid of honor stand up for the exchange of vows since they were the ones to sign the marriage certificate.  I felt visually it looked less cluttered around the altar that way. 



In regard to the cost, I did get the parishioner discount on both the hall and the church.  The hall also collected decorations over the years.  Some of it was from previous weddings.  I bought the cupcake tier and when the reception coordinator saw it, she bought it from me.  As such, I got completely reimbursed for it.  I purchased the flower petals online for a nominal fee (did a lot of price comparison.  I asked a friend of mine who worked for a radio station to do our music, he arranged a free wedding DJ for us.  One of my regrets is the wedding photographer.  I really thought it was insane to spend so much on pictures.  Why did I need my wedding photos to look like something out of a bridal magazine.  I still wanted something a little nicer though.  I searched far and wide and found a cheap photographer.  While I spent only about $600 on it, the pictures were actually worse than some of the pictures my guests took.  It ended up being a complete rip off.  Some of my best photos were taken by one of my bridesmaids.  This one for instance came from my bridesmaid’s camera: 

If I had to do it over again, I would have researched the cost of having it at my husband’s parish.  I would have extended the ceremony invitations and considered having an immediate informal non-fancy reception in the Church basement — a sort of receiving line, but allowing for more socializing.  Maybe some finger foods, cheeses and punch but no decorations.  Then, if we could afford it, after the “Catholic Gap” I would have had a reception with only immediate family and close friends (more along the size of a groom’s dinner).  I would have created a playlist for background music during both receptions.  I wouldn’t hire a photographer at all.

That said, that’s all from a lesson learned.  My husbandand I are both introverts.  We don’t like large crowds.  I was a stressed out mess during the reception.  I simply hate being the center of attention.

Point being, its the reception that is costly, not the ceremony.  Sure, you’re paying more than most brides for the ceremony, but the ceremony is the main event, not the reception.  Try to think of the reception as a glorified receiving line and remember not to glorify it too much. 

Here’s one priest’s view of weddings today.  I read it while I was engaged.  Some might find it offensive, but it makes excellent points.  http://reverendknow-it-all.blogspot.com/2009/10/rant-on-weddings.html

Post # 7
445 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: April 2013

My church does keep track of how often you go, by the donation envelopes. My priest was made aware when I first registered that I’m a nurse who works every other weekend so I can only attend that weekend I’m off. He gave me a bit of a hard time about it for a while, but I still only go every other weekend and I got married in the Catholic Church.

Post # 8
4803 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

I know that back when I was a kid and my family regularly went to church (my mom’s side is all strict Catholic and that’s how I was raised), it wasn’t as simple as where you lived – heck, how would they ever know what people in the area were Catholic or ever attended the church? There was actually paperwork involved, and like @Duckie731: mentioned, they used the donation envelopes to keep track of how often you went, and honestly, the whole ‘Easter and Christmas Catholic’ is something that’s been pretty heavily frowned upon in every church I’ve ever attended – not judging, I’m not even Catholic or religious at all anymore, but I can remember those parishoners getting a it of the side-eye over the fact that they were not involved in the parish and didn’t make the effort to regularly attend mass, they just wanted to be there for the special stuff. I’d talk to the priest and let them know your circumstances and see what they say. But they’re really not going to want to hear that you feel more in God’s presence outside church than inside, or that money was the deciding push for a church ceremony.

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