Definition of Parish in the Catholic Church
Many people say 'I'm from parish A' or 'I'm from parish B'. The word parish itself is usually used by Catholics to ask where someone is a member of the church. In short, people often replace the mention of the word 'church' with 'parish'. The word 'parish' itself comes from the Greek parokein which means traveler or wanderer. However, the parish is currently describing the division of the church congregation.
The parish system is not set up to give special boxes to church members. Parish understanding systems are formed to encourage congregants to be more active and more participatory in church services. Congregations are encouraged to fellowship not limited to days and space, but also within their area of residence. Congregations are invited to pay attention to each other starting from fellow congregations around his house. The parish understanding system exists in the hope that the way of life of the early church (Acts 2: 41-47) can be the way of life of the church today.
Catholic Church Hierarchy
Before understanding what parish is, we need to understand how hierarchy is in the Catholic church. We may often hear about the Pope in Catholicism, especially at Easter. The Catholic Church throughout the world is led by a Pope residing in Rome, the Vatican. The pope has the duty to pastor congregations in the Catholic church. He has the right and authority to determine the needs of the church and has the duty to lead worship. Because the Pope cannot oversee all the churches in the world, in carrying out his duties, the Pope is assisted by bishops, as follows:
The bishop is elected and appointed by the Pope to lead the diocese in the ecclesiastical province in each country. The ecclesiastical province is not the same as the state province.
The bishop has a duty like the apostles whose job is to be a pastor in the church. There are two bishops, Archbishop or Metropolit Bishop and Sufragan Bishop. Bishops are domiciled in their respective dioceses.
Because of their duties and roles, many people now accept bishops as replacements of the twelve disciples of Jesus even though that does not mean there are only twelve bishops in this world.
We also often hear the position of Father or Father in the Catholic Church. Pastors are people who have finished school at a seminary and are ordained by the bishop to serve as a priest.
The pastor has the duty to pastor Catholics in a church and preach the word of God. This pastor is then tasked with leading in a parish.
Understanding of the Parish in the Catholic Church
In the past, the word 'parish' was used as a term for the Israelites who lived in exile in Egypt. Furthermore, the word 'parish' instead refers to the people of Israel who miss heavenly Jerusalem. These Israelites are considered to be God's people who make pilgrimages in the world. Today, not much different from the previous meaning, the term 'parish' also refers to church members who expect eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven. Congregations are only people who live in the world (1 Peter 1: 17b) and are on a pilgrimage to the Kingdom of Heaven, as follows:
Theoretically it is said that the parish is a community of faith that is formed permanently within certain territorial boundaries in the diocese.
Canon Law No. 515 defines a parish as a particular congregation of Christian believers who are permanently formed in a particular church and whose pastoral care, under the authority of the diocesan bishop, is entrusted to the parish priest as his own pastor.
For those who are new to the word 'parish' this definition may be confusing. We can interpret the parish as a church, for example parish A means church A and parish B means church B. The party authorized to establish, dissolve or make changes in the parish is the Bishop.
As a church, the most important thing that must be considered by each parish is the pastoral care of the people. Pastoral care is the three main tasks of being a prophet who does the evangelism, being a priest who carries out sacrament services to sanctify, and being a king who serves generously. These tasks are done for the faithful, the parish church. Pastoral care is entrusted to the priest's understanding of the parish under the authority of the bishop. Every pastoral care activity must be accountable to the bishop. The parish priest is not alone in working on pastoral care. Each parish has a Parish Pastoral Council and is chaired by the parish pastor. This council is tasked to provide the assistance needed by the parishioners in the pastoral care of the parish. In addition, the Pastoral Council also functions to develop pastoral activities. As a servant of God in the parish, the Pastoral Council is a body of faith and service communication rather than a bureaucratic institution.
Division of Regions in Parishes
Within the parish, the congregation is divided into several territories which are usually based on civil territory. For example, the parish understanding of parish A is divided into three regions, namely the X area congregation, the Y area congregation, and the Z area congregation. This system is also widely used by Protestant churches. The purpose of this parish system is the ease of church coordination. Each region has a congregation leader who coordinates with the parish pastoral council. If there is a notification from the church, the church will contact the head of the congregation.
The head of the congregation has the duty to provide this information to the parish congregation in his area. In addition, the church will also be easier to record the congregation. For example there is a congregation understanding parish A area X that has just given birth, the head of the congregation will record and provide this information to the church. This also applies to illness, death, baptism, etc., as follows:
For a large parish, the congregation is not only divided into regions, but can become smaller subunits. Subunit forms, in the order of the largest, are territory, station, environment, and block. (also read: Law of Sowing)
Usually, the block as the smallest unit is limited to a maximum of 20 families living nearby. Despite unit differences, all remain one in the Pastoral Council's understanding of the Parish.
The positive thing about this system is that it will help the church to carry out its duties and vocation. We need to remember that the church is not merely tasked with holding regular worship and gathering as many people as possible.
The church has three duties and callings namely Koinonia (fellowship), Marturia (testimony), and Dionia (ministry). Parish areas are not just the administrative status of the church, but become their own fellowship.
Usually each parish area has its own fellowship activities such as weekly prayer or something else. With this, the church will be more effective in maintaining the fellowship of the church with God. In addition, the parish understanding areas help in registering parish understanding parishes that require special services.