A person should be a parish member in whatever parish they regularly attend. In order to become a parish member, you visit the parish office and fill out a simple form. Children are considered members with their parents until they turn 18 years old. Once they are 18, it is their own responsibility to attend church and to register as a member independent of their parents.
There are certain minimum requirements for parish membership. At least one person in the family has to be Catholic (generally one of the parents) for a family to be parish members. It makes little sense to sign up for membership at a golf course if no one in the family plays golf. In the same way, parish membership is an outgrowth of a person’s Catholic faith. The members can expect pastoral care from their parish, including baptisms and funerals, weddings and anointing of the sick. The parish can also expect its members to maintain their faith. Here are the minimums that are expected of a parish member:
- Come to church on Sundays, and also on the holy days of obligation.
- Come to Confession at least once a year, and receive Communion at least once a year during the Easter season.
- Join in fast and abstinence during Lent, and provide for the support of the Church through monetary gifts or active service.
Why these expectations? Faith is a living thing. If you nourish it through church attendance, service to others and prayer, your faith will grow. A faith that is not nourished will wither and eventually die. There are people that say that they don’t believe in God. They say that they used to believe, but over time they stopped coming to church and eventually stopped praying. When a tragedy happens, they begin to wish they had kept their faith. These ‘expectations’ are simply the minimum level of involvement that is required to keep the faith alive.