Sunday, June 22, 2008

Finding a Place to Belong (II)

I love that people feel comfortable enough to talk with me about switching parishes. I don't love hearing about what has motivated their desire to move, especially stories about soul-wounding injuries that could've been healed by heartfelt outreach and authentic amends.

And it grieves me no end to encounter good Catholics who would rather stop attending Mass altogether than get permission to switch parishes from the priest who prompted their exodus to begin with. Do laity need a permission slip to change parishes? I decided to check this out because I remember when switching to another parish was considered a criminal offense that could not be mitigated by praying the Rosary.

One of my deacon pals told me that while parishes and dioceses have specific boundaries which folks are canonically required to honor, "pastorally, the Church doesn't enforce these boundaries on people making choices as to where they worship."

He then reminded me about how the Tribunal actually whipped out a map to check my county of residence before proceeding with my annulment petitions. I happen to live in one of the few zip codes coveted by New Jersey residents and reside almost exactly equidistant between two parishes that were once part of the same diocese.

As a matter of fact, I switched parishes this past year after a protracted painful period of discernment. On the bright side, I believe this explains why I've had so many conversations on this topic by phone, via email, and in the salty crunchy snack aisle of the local World Class ShopRite.

For the record, please note that I do not offer one-size-fits-all counsel. In some instances, I'm able stick to my "grow where you're planted" position. In others, I say it's easier to switch than fight. When the move involves kids, I talk about what is the message being delivered. In nearly all instances, I'm reminded of this adage heard in the rooms of twelve step recovery: "The Church is the only army that shoots its own wounded." How sad is that?


  1. It's happened a bunch of times I wanted to switch parishes. I rarely do. Hubby won't let me - he's pretty old school. That said, it does tend to reinforce why I am there - to receive the divine gift of ignoring those who make me so mad I can't see straight.

    And, at least it ain't the Church -o- Bob. Except when it is....which, as it happens...makes me so mad I can't see straight.

  2. With all due respect, what type/duration of abuse would inspire your dh to "let" you leave a home parish? And how about when the parish turns into the Church-o-Bob? Just wondering!

  3. We've always seen sticking with a parish - and being a thorn in its side when necessary ! - to be a good example of obedience for our children.
    On the other hand, I am looking forward to moving back into the city so that I can be anonymous and just worship. And now that I don't have the spiritual formation of children to worry about, I really just wanna ignore all the shenanigans and worship.
    What I can't decide though, is: am I being lazy? complacent? selfish? burnt out?


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