AskDefine | Define parishioner

Dictionary Definition

parishioner n : a member of a parish

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. A member of a parish.


A member of a parish

Extensive Definition

A parish is a type of administrative subdivision. It is used by some Christian churches, usually liturgical churches, and also by the civil government in a number of countries (see civil parish).


The term "Parish" derives from Anglo-Fr. parosse (1075), later paroche (1292), from O.Fr. paroisse, from Latin paroechia = "diocese", from Greek παρоικια = "district" or "diocese", from Greek παρά = "beside", οικος = "house". The Hellenistic Greek term παρоικια originally meant "sojourn in a foreign land" (in the Septuagint) or "community of sojourners", with reference to the Jewish people in a foreign land (1st centtury B.C.), and later with reference to earthly life as a temporary abode (1st century A.D., also New Testament: 1 Peter 1:17, 2:11); the term hence was applied to "Christian community" (3rd century), "diocese" (3rd century), and ultimately "parish" (4th century).
The alternate Latin spelling parochia which serves as the ultimate origin of the English language word, arose from confusion with parochus, a local official in the Roman provinces who supplied public officials with food, shelter, etc., when they passed through his district (from Hellenistic Greek πάροχος = "riding in the same chariot as", "beside the chariot of").

Ecclesiastical parishes

A parish is a territorial subdivision of a diocese, eparchy or bishopric, within the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Church of Sweden, and of some other churches. The word "parish" is also used more generally to refer to the collection of people who attend a particular church. In this usage, a parish minister is one who serves a congregation.

Roman Catholic Church

In the Catholic Church, each parish has one parish priest (as he is usually called in England, Ireland and Australia, among other places) or "pastor" (as he is called in the United States, among other places), who has responsibility and canonical authority over the parish (the Latin for this post is parochus).
A parish priest may have one or more fellow priests assisting him. In Catholic usage this priest is technically a "parochial vicar", but is commonly called an "associate pastor" or "assistant pastor" (or just "associate" or "assistant"), a curate, or vicar - common as they are, these terms are inaccurate and many dioceses have recently begun using the canonical term "parochial vicar" even in general parish communications (bulletins and the like).
Each diocese (administrative region) is divided into parishes, each with their own central church called the parish church, where religious services take place. Some larger parishes or parishes that have been combined under one pastor may have two or more such churches, or the parish may be responsible for chapels (sometimes called "chapels of ease") located at some distance from the parish church for the convenience of distant parishioners.
With the decline in the numbers of people seeking ordination, in some countries parishes are now being merged together or are all sharing the services of one priest in a phenomenon known in the United States as clustering.
In the Catholic Church there also exists a special type of ecclesiastical parish called a national parish, which is not territorial in nature. These are usually created to serve the needs of all of the members of a particular language group, particularly of an immigrant community, in a large area: its members are not defined by where they live, but by their country of origin or native language.
Other variations are also possible. In some Catholic jurisdictions created for the armed forces, for instance, the entire diocese or archdiocese is treated as a single parish: all of the Catholics in the military of the United States and all of their Catholic dependents, for instance, form the Archdiocese of the Military Services, USA, a diocese defined not by territory but by another quality (in this case, relationship to the military) - this archdiocese has its own archbishop, and all records and other matters are handled in a central office rather than by individual priests assigned to military post chapels or chaplains of units in the field.
See also:Team of priests in solidum

Church of England

See also: How the Church of England is organised
The parish system in England is similar to the Roman Catholic system, described above. Many Church of England parishes that existed at the beginning of the 19th century, owe their existence to the establishment of a minster church or to an estate church founded by Anglo-Saxon or Norman landowners. The parish as a territorial unit survived the reformation largely untouched. Consequently, the 19th century parish boundary often corresponds to that of a much earlier Anglo-Saxon estate.
In the Church of England, part of the Anglican Communion, the legal right to appoint or recommend a parish priest is called an advowson, and its possessor is known as a patron. The patron can be an individual, the Crown, a bishop, a college, a charity, or a religious body. Appointment as a parish priest entails the enjoyment of a benefice. Appointment of patrons is now governed by the Patronage (Benefices) Rules 1987. In mediaeval times and earlier, when the church was politically and economically powerful, such a right could have great importance. An example can be seen in the article on Grendon, Northamptonshire. It was frequently used to promote particular religious views. For example Robert Rich, 2nd Earl of Warwick presented many puritan clergy. In the 19th century Charles Simeon established a trust to purchase advowsons and install evangelical priests. Ownership of an advowson now carries little personal advantage.
Even before the establishment of civil parishes, the Church of England parish had become a unit of local government. For example, parishes were required to operate the Elizabethan poor law.

Church of Scotland

In the Church of Scotland, the parish is basic level of church administration. The spiritual oversight of each parish church is responsibility of the congregation's Kirk Session. Patronage was regulated this way in 1712 (Patronage Act) and abolished in 1874, ministers must be elected by members of the congregation. Many parish churches are now "linked" with neighbouring parish churches (served by a single minister.) With the abolition of parishes as a unit of civil government in Scotland, parishes now have a purely ecclesiastical significance in Scotland (and the boundaries may be adjusted by the local Presbytery).

Parishes in civil administration

Main article: Parish (country subdivision)
In some countries a parish (sometimes called a "civil parish") is an administrative area of civil government. Parishes of this type are found in England, Ireland, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, parts of the USA, Estonia, and a number of island nations in the region of the Caribbean.

Great Britain

Civil parishes in England form the lowest level of local government. Since 1894, parishes with a population of more than 300 have an elected parish council (in some cases known as the town council).
Civil parishes in Wales were organised on the same system as England until 1974. In that year all civil parishes in the principality were abolished and replaced with communities. The whole of Wales is divided into communities, although not all have chosen to establish a community council. Like their English counterparts, a community can be renamed a "town".
In Scotland, civil parishes existed until 1975. They were administered by parochial boards until 1894, when elected parish councils were formed. In 1930 the parish councils were dissolved, but the parishes themselves were grouped in districts and continued to exist for statistical and boundary purposes. The parishes were finally abolished on the reorganisation of local government in Scotland in 1975.

North America

In Quebec, a parish is a large rural municipality consisting mainly of farmlands, as opposed to a village. which is also rural, but has a center with a church, a credit union, shops, etc. (In a few cases, such as Notre-Dame-des-Anges, it is a municipality set up to accord special municipal autonomy to a church facility.) See Parish municipality (Quebec).
In New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, parishes are no longer used as administrative areas within counties, however several are used as census area boundaries. Parishes were also used in land titles identifications in certain areas of Manitoba, such as the former cities of St. Boniface and St. Vital (now areas of Winnipeg). These identifications are still found on titles to lands subdivided before the 1971 amalgamation.
Historically, in New England, settlements that were at some distance from the center of a town and had enough people could request to be "set off" as a separate parish with its own church, and would then be freed of paying tithes to the main church. These parishes would eventually be established as separate towns.
In Louisiana it is equivalent to a county (US usage). See List of parishes in Louisiana. Louisiana has 64 parishes, which were created when it was a territory of the Spanish and French empires, which were both Roman Catholic.
In the Charleston Lowcountry of South Carolina, they resemble townships or public service districts.
Most former British colonies in the Caribbean are subdivided into parishes. The most notable exceptions are Guyana, which is subdivided into regions, and Belize, which is subdivided into districts.


In Australia parishes, as subdivisions of counties, are part of the cadastral areas to identify land title, used in the states of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania.


See also

parishioner in Arabic: رعية
parishioner in Asturian: Parroquia
parishioner in Breton: Parrez
parishioner in Catalan: Parròquia eclesiàstica
parishioner in Czech: Farnost
parishioner in Danish: Sogn
parishioner in German: Kirchengemeinde
parishioner in Spanish: Parroquia (religión)
parishioner in Esperanto: Paroĥo
parishioner in French: Paroisse
parishioner in Irish: Paróiste
parishioner in Korean: 교구 (기독교)
parishioner in Indonesian: Paroki
parishioner in Italian: Parrocchia
parishioner in Latin: Paroecia
parishioner in Luxembourgish: Par
parishioner in Limburgan: Parochie
parishioner in Dutch: Parochie (kerk)
parishioner in Norwegian: Sogn
parishioner in Norwegian Nynorsk: Sokn
parishioner in Narom: Pâraisse
parishioner in Low German: Parish
parishioner in Polish: Parafia
parishioner in Portuguese: Paróquia
parishioner in Slovak: Farnosť
parishioner in Slovenian: Župnija
parishioner in Serbian: Парохија
parishioner in Finnish: Seurakunta
parishioner in Swedish: Församling
parishioner in Walloon: Pårotche
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1