A few days ago, Eric Sammons at The Divine Life wrote a post about the parish “shop and hop”. (Read it all here: http://ericsammons.com/blog/2010/07/28/the-parish-shop-and-hop/)

I was struck by this:

When I first became Catholic, I was in the group that felt that you should attend your territorial parish unless the pastor there was preaching outright heresy. Even if the liturgy was poorly celebrated, the music stunk, and the pastor preached a “be nice” Gospel, a Catholic should support his local parish.

Then I had kids.

As any parent will tell you, having kids changes your entire perspective; you now see everything through their eyes. And I saw a child being raised in a watered-down Catholic Faith and it scared me. After that point, I decided I would attend the best parish within a reasonable distance because I wanted my kids to experience Catholicism and the Mass in a reverent, enthusiastic environment if at all possible.

I should note that few parishes in proximity to us have what I would deem “reverent liturgy”, including all the smells and bells. That said, we are blessed with a parish and a pastor who take the liturgy very seriously, in spite of a church design from the 1970s.

Notwithstanding my current situation, and even with kids, I lean towards “unless the pastor there was preaching outright heresy“, one should remain in their territorial parish.

What should be done, though? Stay and pray and fight for change… or leave for a more complete faith?

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4 Responses to Parish Shop and Hop?

  1. Joe says:

    We are currently facing a situation such as that.

    We are in an Area that there AREN'T other Churches around. So moving would mean, relocation to another State.

    Because of my job situation, we are making a bigger overall decision based on what job offers I receive. If I don't receive any within the time frame of my job, well then we have to make a hard decision, weighing all the pluses and minuses.

    This comes into play big time. But do we weigh our poor Church situation as a NEGATIVE? I am a fighter, and I know that we have HELPED the situation and the people around us. Not in a prideful, "look how awesome I am" sort of way, we were just able to share our gifts and experiences with them, which have helped "reform" minds and hearts to a more authentic way of believing. That being said, we haven't gotten very much "back." Or have we? WE know God gives us what we need and those things that we want, which conform to his will.

    So what if staying in a place, or BEING in a place that is difficult is our cross. What if WE are helping others, while suffering? What if the way we pray, believe, dress, think, talk, act etc… rubs off on others in a parish that would otherwise not see such a thing? Should we leave bad parihses to themselves? And let them fade away?

  2. Ken says:

    IN our archdiocese there are certain parishes with a reputation for liturgical and theological laxity and others that are more orthodox. Even when priests are moved, some are favored over others. It's a shame. We were part of a small change at our territorial parish but the pressures on the other side were too strong. We have plenty of parishes here in suburbia so we are OK, but we drive about 15 miles to a parish now. About seven churches are closer.

  3. Rob Kaiser says:

    I have a few thoughts on this.

    1. I generally agree that it is good to stay in one's parish to change it.

    2. One must be prudent and balance the possibility for change with the need to provide a truly Catholic environment for one's family – your kids only grow up once, and the experience you provide is important.

    3. Whatever one does, there is nothing wrong with visiting another parish, even relatively frequently. We go to an EF mass once every 5 to 6 weeks at a different parish.

    4. The parish is one of the things we have noted in evaluating a place to live. If you are looking at a home, be sure to check out the parish before you move. Let that influence your decision.

  4. Until recently, I had only lived in places that offered one Catholic parish (or only one with an English liturgy). The town where I live now and the town before that offered more churches. In the last town I went to my local parish and was relatively satisfied. When my family and I moved here, my daughter and I were going to the closest parish. One day, I decided to attend the Divine Liturgy at the local Melkite parish. I loved the liturgy, the pastor and the people in the parish. We go there now.

    I'm not sure if it parish hopping in the traditional sense. I wasn't looking for a more reverent experience or better catechesis, but I am guilty of parish shopping. I actually have to drive past my old parish on my way to the Divine Liturgy. The fact is though, not all of us are fed by our local parish and a decision one way or the other should only be made after prayer and reflection. One size does not fit all, our Creator made each of us unique in our needs, desires, temperaments, and talents.