Thursday, March 23, 2017


When I was first ordained, my first trip was to Slovenia in order to celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving with my family in my grandparent's home village.  One of the things that I really wanted to do was go to visit the place where the sacramental  records were kept for the parish in order to trace back the family history a bit.  That is when we encountered a strange discouragement for doing so from family members.  There seemed to be a general, "You can't get there from here," or "the road is closed for construction."  Of course, in my head I am thinking, "There's got to be more than one way to get there," but there was also some language barrier issues so we let it go.

Then at the dinner after the Mass, my cousin handed me a wrapped tube.  I opened it and there were photocopies of our family records going back to the 1800s.  That was wonderful.  I still have those records.

Today I spent some time signing our sacramental books at St. Sebastian, putting my name next to the records of those who were baptized or married by me.  These records are meant to kept forever.  What a terrible loss if there should be a fire and they are not well protected!  Even in a closed parish, the sacramental books are taken someplace in the diocese (the parish with which it was merged or perhaps the archives of the diocese) so that they may be preserved for posterity.  

What a thing it is to think that, perhaps in a couple hundred years, someone might open these books that I scribble in today to do research on their family line . . . 

That is why we talk about Catholics having a permanent record.  Every time you receive a sacrament, that information is sent to the parish at which you were baptized.  So always remember where you baptized!  Your whole sacramental life is recorded there!


Nan said...

The church in Ribnica burned down. I don't know when it happened but do know that there's no family​ there. My great-great grandmother got on a boat to come here at age 70 because her husband was dead and her children were here.

Because they wrapped the he deceased in a linen shroud and buried them around the church, when they got back to the beginning, the ground was ready again and there aren't cemeteries to visit, that's a much more recent development. Even in the 70s, people were made ready for burial at home.

Mary Bruno said...

Where do they send the records when your home parish closes?

Fr. V said...

In the diocese of Cleveland there are two options. In merged parishes it will go to the merged parish. For a closed parish it will go to the DOC Archives. For more information to and search for "archives office"

Anonymous said...

When I prepared to be professed as a Secular Franciscan almost 2 years ago, I had to scramble for my Sacramental records. I had been baptized at St. Bernard (1961), went to Annunciation Grade School and received First Confession, First Communion, and Confirmation at Annunciation (1969 and 1974), and married at St. Matthew (1988).

I contacted St. Bernard, my home parish, and was told that registered parishioners' records should all be kept at their current parish, even if they received their Sacraments elsewhere. When they checked, the records from Annunciation were missing since they had merged, so St. Bernard had to get someone at Visitation to go to their vaults to send the records to St. Bernard, which they very kindly did.

St. Bernard told me my husband's records, even though he is from Tiffin St. Joseph in the Toledo Diocese, were forwarded to St. Bernard when he moved to Akron and joined the parish in 1979.

I don't know if all parishes handle records like that, but I am glad my records are all in one place at St. Bernard in case I need them for some reason in the future.

Peace to you and all here!

Pat said...

I recently requested from my father's home parish the baptismal dates and sponsors' names for the nine children of my paternal grandparents.

Despite the difficulty of reading an old book, looking for records that extended from 1905 to 1925, the secretary kindly did it.

What a blessing it was to get those dates and perhaps even more important, the names of the sponsors. Who were those people my grandparents asked to be godparents? They would have to have been close relations or good friends, because particularly in those days, a godparent might be called upon to take and raise the child if something happened to the parents--a great responsibility.

doubletrouble said...

It IS cool.
When the Mrs. & I were preparing for the Marital Blessing of our civil marriage, I had to go dig up all our old records. The parish I attended as a yute had closed, but the records were transferred to the "merged to" parish. It was neat to have them readily get hands on my baptismal record, recorded in a huge book. After blowing off sixty years of dust, there I was, recorded... in Latin!

Karen said...

If you weren't baptized Catholic but converted after being baptized in a protestant church where are records for those people stored? Is it the parish where they were confirmed?

Fr. V said...

Good question!

A new file will be started for you at the parish at which you were brought in to the Church regardless of where you were baptized.