To live the faith – The parish

The Church, at different places and levels, is a tangible sign of the relationship between God and man.

Family mass at Saint Sebastian Church in Bonn. © KNA-Bild

In this context the parishes as centres of religious life in the Church gain a special importance. The “local” parishes embody the nature of the Church in the immediate surroundings of people, and this always in relation to the Local Church of the diocese and to the Universal Church. In addition, the various groups that are open doors to parish life are very important. Young people might join servers or scouts, for example. Grown-ups often renew their contact to an active parish life if their children attend a catholic kindergarten or a catholic school.

Preparation for First Communion at the Saint Nicholas parish in Bonn. © KNA-Bild

The mission of the parishes is to put the faith into practice by living and celebrating the faith and by bearing witness to it. Parish life is fostered by the joint commitment of professionals and volunteers and by the cooperation between clergy and laity. As many interests and talents can be found in a parish, there are many possibilities to join the various groups and to give expression to one’s own faith.

During the last years the structure of German dioceses has considerably changed. On the one hand this is due to the generally changed conditions of human life and on the other hand it is due to personnel and structural aspects in the dioceses.


Different types of parishes today

At present all dioceses are increasing their pastoral care units with three basic models helping to structure pastoral care in the parishes:

  • The union of parishes
    Cooperation of several parishes in different fields of pastoral work with the parishes mostly keeping their independence, i.e. committees or bodies are not combined.
  • The association of parishes
    Association of several legally independent parishes which have one priest, which reach legally binding agreements and which form joint committees or bodies.
  • The newly established parish
    Fusion of several parishes which, as a rule, continue to exist under the new parish as dependent local parishes.

In the south and in rural dioceses the associations of parishes seem to be favoured whereas in urban dioceses in the north new parishes are established.

Usually smaller units of pastoral work like charitable institutions, communities, associations and religious orders are connected with the larger pastoral care units. By cooperation many parishes will achieve what a single parish is not able to.

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