What’s a home parish?
A home parish is supposed to be like family, a school of love and holiness.
Catholics have traditionally attended the nearest parish to their house. Church, like your biological brothers and sisters, wasn’t something you chose. You learned how to love the people around you, people who were often very different and very difficult. There was no convenience in this arrangement. Inconvenience forged bonds of unconditional love.
Nowadays, however, most Catholics get to pick the parish they attend.
How should you choose a home parish?
Ideally, you should choose a parish that feels like family.
You should choose a parish that lives the Christ-centered values you need to learn. Look for communities full of joy, sacrifice, and reverence. Choose a place that respects the Eucharist, “the source and summit of the Christian life” (LG 11).
- Parishes where people linger and talk after Mass;
- The priest knows the names of the people and has served faithfully for years;
- Young and old people take part in the same activities;
- The Gospel is preached with love and conviction.
The best parishes are hard to find. People move around a lot in the modern world, which hurts the stability needed to grow loving, lasting church communities. It is hard enough to love close friends, much less strangers. To learn how to love, you must surround yourself with people already well-established in love.
What about music, food, and art?
Music, food, and art are secondary, but also important.
Consider the placement of the Tabernacle.
My friend Travis writes, “Architecture does matter. If the Eucharist is so important, why do we tuck the tabernacle off to the side? It’s not just a matter of preference. Things like this teach the faith. You’re going to have to explain to visitors and your children that that’s Jesus, but he’s off in his own room missing the Mass.”
My friend Victor counters, “I see that a lot of newer churches want a private area for the tabernacle so that people can go in and pray quietly. I see a benefit in that too.”
What about children?
Families with children have different needs when choosing a home parish.
Victor writes, “No plan survives contact with the enemy, in this case, a child. Dealing with a child dictates a lot of things. So my parish scored a lot of points in that regard. It had a good cry area. Relatively good looking church. Good priest. People we knew went there, including family.”
How did you choose your home parish?
What drew you to pick your home parish?
Was the priest or community a decisive factor? Do you prefer a certain kind of Mass?
Please share and comment below with your thoughts about how to choose a home parish.