According to Church Law (the Code of Canon Law), a parish is a community of people, who either live within certain defined boundaries or who choose to worship and participate in that community and thus register as members there.

In the Archdiocese of St. John’s, the Archbishop will appoint a resident pastor or a pastor who holds pastoral responsibility for a cluster of parishes in close proximity to each other. That pastor is the shepherd of the parish, in much the same way that the Archbishop is the shepherd of the Archdiocese.

A pastor, then, doesn’t shepherd a territory, he shepherds a people. He is charged with:

  • Healing and reconciling—assisting individuals and the community toward wholeness, particularly in broken or strained relationships
  • Confronting and sustaining—standing with and walking with people as they move toward wholeness
  • Guiding and informing—providing new information, assisting people to make good decisions, or walking with people as new light is shed on experience, faith, God, etc.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2179, tells us this:

"A parish is a definite community of the Christian faithful established on a stable basis within a particular church; the pastoral care of the parish is entrusted to a pastor as its own shepherd under the authority of the diocesan bishop."

It is the place where all the faithful can be gathered together for the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist. The parish initiates the Christian people into the ordinary expression of the liturgical life: it gathers them together in this celebration; it teaches Christ's saving doctrine; it practices the charity of the Lord in good works and brotherly love:

You cannot pray at home as at church, where there is a great multitude, where exclamations are cried out to God as from one great heart, and where there is something more: the union of minds, the accord of souls, the bond of charity, the prayers of the priests.