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Covering the Local Church



who resides elsewhere must be named the

canonical pastor

. The canonical

pastor ordinarily provides sacramental ministry to the community. If some-

one who is not a priest is appointed to coordinate other parish activities, he

or she may be in charge of a wide range of things such as adult and child

religious education and formation, sacramental preparation, coordination of

music ministry and other liturgical ministries, oversight of social and other

outreach ministries, and worship services such as the Liturgy of the Hours or

a Liturgy of the Word on weekdays or on Sunday when there is no priest avail-

able to celebrate Mass.

Parishes without resident priests have become more common in recent

years in town-and-country America, especially rural or semi-rural dioceses in

the Middle West and Upper Midwest, where previously there were many par-

ishes with only one priest and where now a lack of priests leads to parishes

being served sacramentally by a nonresident priest.

On the opposite end of the parish spectrum are many urban, suburban

and exurban parishes—especially in the East and in larger metropolitan areas

across the country—where parish size and diversity has led to multiple min-

istries, many led by lay ecclesial ministers. Those parishes may include priests

who are

associate pastors

, also sometimes called

parochial vicars

. They may

also have lay pastoral associates, religious education coordinators, parochial

elementary or high school principals, teachers, youth ministers, liturgy coor-

dinators, music coordinators, office managers and a variety of other people

working in paid positions full-time or part-time.

In addition to paid staff, Catholic parishes large and small have numer-

ous volunteers—parishioners involved in social ministries, catechists, leaders

of Bible study or prayer groups, youth ministers, people who visit the sick or

homebound, and so on. For Mass and other liturgical services, volunteers may

include altar servers, musicians, choir members, readers, ushers or greeters,

extraordinary ministers of Communion, and others.



In the United States, two states have two Latin rite archdioceses and hence

two ecclesiastical


—California, with the Archdioceses of Los Angeles

and of San Francisco; and Texas, with the Archdioceses of San Antonio and of

Galveston-Houston. In a number of the country’s other more populous states,

the ecclesiastical province is co-extensive with the state boundaries. New York