Wednesday, February 19, 2014


Now for something controversial:  The name of your parish.


Catholics are at odds concerning the exact name of their parish.  Let us take, for example, the name of this parish:  St. Sebastian.  This is not St. Sebastian’s Church.  To begin with, we are part of the Roman Catholic Church, not St. Sebastian’s Church.  We are properly known as St. Sebastian Parish.  The church (little “c”) is the building in which we have Mass.  The Church (with a capitol “C”) is the greater Catholic Church.  So if you were going to say (or print) St. Sebastian church (with the little c) you mean a specific building on the campus.  If you say it with a capitol C, you are talking about a schism.  (Okay, that may be a little bit extreme, mostly said for comedic effect, but you get the point.)  The point is this is St. Sebastian Parish.
And it is NOT St. Sebastian’s Parish.  (I am sure I’ll get some push back on this.)  He doesn’t own it.  It is named after and enjoys the intercession of this (really cool) saint, but it is not his property.  Sacred Heart Parish is not “Sacred Heart’s Parish” nor is Sweetest Heart of Mary Parish in Detroit named “Sweetest Heart of Mary’s Parish.”  Your local elementary school is not King’s Elementary.  It is King Elementary.  So this parish is properly known as St. Sebastian Parish.


So, these work:


St. Sebastian Parish (everyone and everything connected to this place.)

St. Sebastian Roman Catholic Church (if you want to specify to whom we belong)

St. Sebastian church (if you want to specify where something is taking place at the parish)

St. Sebastian Parish Church (if you want a formal title for that building.)


Poor Stephen Stone said...

Poor Father Valencheck,

You want push back on today's blog. OK...
I was brought up under Father James Schleicher (of most happy memory). He said Yes, it was the St.Francis De Sales Roman Catholic Church. BUT it was within the Father James Schleicher Parish. Fr. Schleicher said that this parish was given to him by the Bishop and it is HIS parish. No one dared argued with him on that point, not even the Holy Spirit. So, I suggest St. Sebastian Holy Roman Catholic Church which is contained within the Father John Valencheck Parish.

Have mercy on me because I am stuck within the Father G. David Bline parish. And that is a trip down the rabbit hole.

Poor Stephen Stone

MaryofSharon said...

Thanks for this clarification! I have wondered about this exact thing for some time, never quite sure about how to refer to particular parishes. I thought I needed to look it up for each one if I wanted to say it correctly. According to their bulletins and websites:

I belong to Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish
and St. Andrew the Apostle Catholic Church
(yes, I belong to two parishes)

I frequently go to daily Mass at
St. Augustine Church

But then Fr. Pfeiffer is the new pastor of
St. Paul Catholic Parish Community

And across from my alma mater up in University Heights is the Church of the Jesu.

BUT when you go to the diocesan website , sure enough every single parish is simply called "parish", just like you said!