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Monday, March 09, 2015

Assessing Your Parish

The Church has three primary tasks: to teach, to govern and to sanctify. Through the liturgy and the sacraments, we are sanctified, that is, we are given the power of grace, the ability to live the divine life. Through catechesis we are given the knowledge and motivation to live the divine life of love towards both God and our neighbor. All other aspects of the Christian life flow from The Church’s success in these tasks. Thus, the life of every parish is assessed by asking two questions:
(1) how well is the task of sanctification being carried out?(2) how well is the task of catechesis being carried out?


  1. Are sacraments readily available to all parishioners?
  2. Are parents treated as priests of the domestic church (Familiaris Consortio, #38)?
  3. Are all Catholics aware of and ready to embrace the salvific aspect of suffering?
Sacrament of Baptism

  1. Are all Catholic parents aware of the importance of water baptism for their children as soon as possible after birth? 
  2. Are all Catholics aware of how to perform an emergency baptism?
  3. Are all Catholics aware of the effects of baptism? 
Sacrament of Confession
  1. Is the Sacrament of Confession available on at least a bi-weekly basis at a publicly scheduled and easily accessible time?
  2. Are all parish adults utilizing the sacrament?
  3. Are parents, as primary educators, preparing their own children for reception of Confession? (CCC #2225)
  4. Is the parish teaching parents how best to prepare their own children from reception of Confession?
Sacrament of Confirmation
  1. Are all Catholic adults who approach the sacrament of marriage confirmed?
  2. Are parents, as primary educators, preparing their own children for reception of Confirmation?
  3. Are parents encouraged to prepare their children at or about the age of reason, as universal Church law recommends (Canon 97.2, 843.1, 852.1, 885)?
  4. Are all children in the parish being confirmed no later than the maximum age set by the bishop?
  5. Are priests aware they must confirm unconfirmed baptized persons in serious danger of death?
  6. Are priests aware that all persons who approach the Church and have the use of reason must be both baptized and confirmed in the same ceremony?
Sacrament of Eucharist
  1. Are parishioners aware of how to correctly receive Eucharist (do they know the signs of reverence, do they know how to examine their conscience, be in a state of grace, etc.)?
  2. Are parishioners both knowledgeable about and made comfortable in exercising their right to receive Eucharist on their knees, after genuflection, after bowing, while standing, whether in the hand or on the tongue?
  3. Are parishioners encouraged to take time to properly prepare themselves during Mass immediately before Eucharistic reception or do ushers, by word or action, distort the proper role of usher by instead dictating when the faithful can or cannot approach the sacrament during Mass?
  4. Are parents, as primary educators, preparing their own children for reception of Eucharist? (CCC #2225)
  5. Are the sacraments of initiation given in their proper order: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist?
Sacrament of Marriage
  1. Are all Catholics approaching the sacrament of marriage aware that they must be open to life?
  2. Are all Catholics approaching the sacrament of marriage aware that marriage is a life-long commitment?
  3. Are all Catholics approaching the sacrament of marriage rejecting contraception and aware of NFP?
  4. Are all Catholics approaching marriage aware of and do they embrace the three ends of marriage?

    • The procreation of children
    • The union of the spouses
    • The remedy for concupiscence
  1. Are EMEs kept to a minimum?
  2. Does the parish liturgy typically incorporate Gregorian chant, as required by the Second Vatican Council (Sacrosanctum Concilium, #116)?
  3. Are the musical instruments used at Mass “suitable, or can be made suitable, for sacred use, accord with the dignity of the temple, and truly contribute to the edification of the faithful.” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, #120)?
  4. Is the Divine Office prayed regularly in a public way, so that the faithful may actively participate in the communal prayer of the Church?
  5. Are all lay ministers in liturgical positions living an exemplary Catholic life?
  6. Are all lay catechists living an exemplary Catholic life?
  7. Do parishioners understand the Easter Vigil to be the "mother of all feasts"?


Family catechesis
  1. Are most parish catechetical sessions directed towards helping parents gain the necessary tools to be their own children's primary catechists (Catechesi Tradendae, #68, Familiaris Consortio#39)?
  2. Are parents encouraged and expected to act as primary catechists, e.g., do the pastor and parish catechists dictate sacramental formation requirements, or do they advise, allowing parents the latitude to choose the most appropriate methods of formation for their own children (Familiaris Consortio, #40)?
  3. Is the primary focus of parish catechetical efforts intended to give parents the tools to prepare their own children to receive first reconciliation, Confirmation and first Eucharist (CCC #2225)?
Primacy of Adult Catechesis
  1. Is the primary catechetical task of the parish oriented towards adults (General Directory for Catechetics, #275, Catechesi Tradendae, #43, Our Hearts Were Burning, Chapter 1)?
  2. Are weekly adult formation sessions being held for parents (Acerbo Nimis, #11)?
  3. Are at least thrice-weekly adult formation sessions being held during Advent and Lent (Acerbo Nimis, #11)?
  4. Are the best parish resources being focused on forming adult Catholics in their faith (OHWB, Chapter III)?
  5. Is there a physical space appropriate to adults available in the parish in order to undertake adult catechesis?
  6. Are teachings outlining how to live Church teaching regularly given (e.g., on sterilization, contraception, need for regular confession, etc.)?
  7. Are regular doctrinal Scripture studies, encyclical studies and Church history sessions for adults made available in the parish?
  8. Are lay church leaders (e.g., parish council members) thoroughly familiar with the documents of Vatican II and the catechetical documents?
  9. Are parish catechists thoroughly familiar with the Magisterial documents on catechesis, such as the General Directory for Catechesis and Catechesi Tradendae?
  10. Are parents thoroughly familiar with the Magisterial documents on marriage, family, and human sexuality, such as Familiaris Consortio, Letter to Families, Mulieris Dignitatem, Letter to Children, Humanae Vitae, and The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality?


Shelly said...

Steve, may I borrow this to share with my pastor and the religious education Sisters? I have been advocating parental involvement and adult faith formation for the past couple of years, to no avail. I formed and teach the adult faith formation group, but attendance is not encouraged by the parish. Thanks!

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Please do. I may be revising and expanding it in the near future.

Vand83 said...

Bookmarking this post. Well done. Thank you sir.

Andrew said...

What is an EME? Thank you.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

"Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist".

Bishops, priests and deacons are ordinary ministers of the Eucharist. EMEs are lay people who have been appointed by the pastor to distribute the Eucharist during the Mass or to shut-ins, homebound and those in hospital.

The use of EMEs during Mass is supposed to be uncommon.

Andrew said...

Thank you Steve. It was just lack of familiarity on my part with your term. The acronym in my area is EMHC. God bless.

bobef said...

Do you know of any parish in the USA where adult catechesis is occurring? Has it occurred at any parishi in the last 100 years? If so, how was it conducted? Thanks.