Why we decided to change parishes

I went to the same parish from the time I was born until I was in my early twenties. As Catholics, we're taught that you stick with your parish, regardless of whether or not you like a particular priest. The parish we've belonged to is one I've been a member at for about 20 years.

(If you're Protestant, you may not know that we do things a bit differently. The bishop picks the priest for each parish in his diocese, and typically the priest is there for 8-12 years. If a parish doesn't like him, there isn't much they can do. On the other hand, a beloved priest can get moved and again, the parish doesn't really have any say in it.)

Your parish is your home. It's the center of your Catholic life: spiritual, social, philanthropic. You baptized your kids there, watch 'em grow, receive sacraments, join the choir, teach religious ed., go to the parish picnic. It's your place.

Until it isn't.

We've decided to change parishes. It's been a terribly hard decision, and certainly not one we've taken lightly. We've prayed, talked, searched for guidance, and finally decided.

Why did we do this? There are a host of reasons, but I'll try and boil it down to five.

  1. The pastoral associate at our parish (the person who works with the priest and is sort of the "right-hand" person at the parish) treated our children with such total disregard I can only describe it as wholly un-Christlike. It was intolerable.
  2. It seems to us that many of the parish programs are just "getting by." "Good enough." "It's the way we've always done it." There's little passion to do the very best, up-grade and/or improve.
  3. For the many years, as stewardship time rolls around, my husband has signed up to work with the RCIA program. As a convert, he loves this ministry, and was a catechist for many years. For the past several years, he's never been contacted about it. No reason, just ignored.
  4. When we've tried to address issues, nothing has changed.
  5. Our family's spiritual life is far too important to sit around and wait for things to get better.
My heart is a bit broken, and yet I'm excited about the new possibilities that Christ is leading us to. As I tell my kids, every Catholic church in the world is home.


  1. I'm so glad you have finally made your prayerful and careful decision. I will pray that your family is richly blessed there.
    We still have not decided. If we do move, we will be going twenty minutes away instead of the five minute drive we now have, but I am already helping with RCIA there, since our current parish church doesn't have its own program. Perhaps that alone should tell me something. Thank you for your prayers. ~ Rosemary in Ohio

  2. The first Sunday we visited our new parish, Father called the catechumens forward and there were about 18. My husband and I looked at each other: our old parish doesn't do dismissals, so no one ever sees those entering the Church. Last year, that parish had 4 people. Yes, it does tell you something. I pray you find your new parish to be a good spiritual home as well.

  3. I found your blog by searching on the question "How do I kiss the leper?". I too am searching for a new parish home. For me, kissing the leper is not about facing taks I find to be unpleasant or difficult, but more about developing an intimate relationship (i.e., loving) the lepers of today, those outcast or on the margins of our society. I haven't been able to find a parish that will help me do this. Charity is good and necessary, but for me it amounts to putting pressure on a gaping wound. It stops the bleeding so that the person won't die, but it doesn't do anything to heal the wound. I'm looking for a parish willing to take on the structural reasons that poverty is allowed to exist, not just put pressure on the wound through charitable acts. One might say it amounts to living in solidarity with those outcast and on the margins; today's lepers. Please pray for me.

  4. Dear Don, in my professional capacity, I do the type of work of which you speak. Might I suggest you take a look at PovertyCure.org? I think you'll find much food for thought there.

    I will keep you in prayer.


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