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Our New Parish - What is a parish?

We have a new parish. What is a parish?

According to Canon Law 515-1, a parish is a certain community of Christ's faithful stably established within a particular Church, whose pastoral care, under the authority of the diocesan Bishop, is entrusted to a parish priest as its proper pastor.

You are the ‘Community of Christ’s faithful’ and I am appointed as pastor.

Who are parishioners of St. Teresa of Calcutta?

Canon 518 states that as a general rule, a parish is to be territorial, that is, it is to embrace all Christ's faithful of a given territory. The given territory of our parish are the towns of Chester, Deep River and Essex.

Can we now conclude that all Catholics living in Chester, Deep River, Essex, Ivoryton and Center brook are our parishioners?

It does not seem so. Many of them do not come to our church at all. Some of them attend Mass periodically and do not participate in the parish
life. Besides, many of our registered parishioners are from other territories for we welcome everyone to become part of our parish.

Thus, we are confronted with these basic questions:

Am I a parishioner merely because I live in the towns of Chester, Deep River or Essex?

Am I a parishioner simply because I attend Mass here?

Am I a parishioner just because I contribute to this parish?

Am I a parishioner only because I am registered in this parish?

All the above are necessary, but not sufficient.

A parish should be a ‘Community of Christ’s faithful’ – people united by Catholic faith, bonded by Christian love, assembled by geographical proximity and imbued by God’s Spirit and fraternal charity.

A parish should remain as a family, though non-consanguineous, knowing and loving each other, praying and worshiping with each other, ministering and caring for each other and depending on God and each other.  

A parish is like a greater family with people of all ages, all walks of life, various types of interests, several views of life, yet, inspired and unified by zeal for the faith model of our patron saint Teresa of Calcutta.

A parish should be filled with numerous enthused ministers and volunteers in reaching in and out of the parish family bringing forth God’s love and compassion of the parish to people around us.  

It is estimated that only 7% of parishioners are actively involved in their church. Now our goal is to increase the number of ministers and volunteers from the presupposed 7% to at least 10% and even more.


  • Charles ValentinoPosted on 7/14/19

    I became an official member of the St. Teresa of Calcutta Parish on 7/8/19. My decision to join the parish required a considerable amount of deliberation given the fact that I was a member of my former parish since 1977, years that included a marriage ceremony and subsequent funeral mass for my wife. We moved to Chester from Clinton in 2006 and, for numerous reasons, continued our involvement in that church community.

    I was despondent after by the passing of my wife in 2012 and began to attend daily mass in Chester. Daily mass attendance continued after Chester and Essex were yoked. My participation in Chester/Essex church activities increased as I said "yes" to invitations to be an alter server, lector, Eucharist minister, CCD teacher, and spent one year with the RCIA program. I was professed into the Third Order of Mary, joined the Marian Movement of Priests Cenacle, and bring the Eucharist to residents in two local nursing facilities. Finally, I have facilitated the lenten program for the past three years.

    I mention these activities in response to Father Peter's question regarding "What is a parish?" I have come to realize that "church" is much more than a physical structure, much more than a place one visits out of habit or sense of duty. No - church is a place where one learns, as Saint Teresa would say, to "Do something beautiful for God."

    I understand the sense of loss one may experience when things we have grown accustomed to change. However, at the risk of sounding overly simplistic, change also presents us with an opportunity to grow - specifically, to grow in faith and holiness. I look forward to continued participation in the formation of our new parish family. I do so with the understanding that, as members of the Communion of Saints, our ultimate parish is called Heaven.



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