Active Parishioner Status and Letters of Good Standing as of June 2021
In order to be considered an active parishioner of Prince of Peace, you must do the following for at least six months:
- Register in the parish with the registration form found online or in the narthex
- Assist at Mass at Prince of Peace at least 75% of all Sundays and Holy Days.
- Contribute financially and by being an active part of parish life
- Use the envelope system to track attendance, even if your financial contribution is by electronic means, if you are ever going to need a letter of good standing. In the future, if an electronic means of check in is provided, that suffices for Mass attendance tracking.
A letter of good standing from Prince of Peace indicates that the records of the parish indicate fulfillment of all requirements for active parishioner status for at least six months. A letter of good standing is necessary for the following:
- to have a baby baptized in any Catholic church
- to serve as a godparent at baptism or sponsor at confirmation in any Catholic church
- to get married in any Catholic church
- to receive the active parishioner discount at Prince of Peace Catholic School
Active members are marked inactive in the rolls of the parish:
- if requested
- if after six months there is no trackable giving or envelope usage
All Catholics aged 18 or older should register under their own name with the parish they consider their spiritual home. Catholics over the age of 18 who consider Prince of Peace their spiritual home, but are under their parents’ care and are away at school, military or civil service, should register in the parish and indicate that fact for our records.
Sick, homebound, or shut-in parishioners who are unable to fulfill the requirements for active parishioner status will not be marked inactive if they or their families communicate to the parish that they wish to remain active.
Inactive parishioners who may not qualify for a letter of good standing may always receive the sacraments of Holy Communion, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, as well as receive ecclesiastical funerals and burials. They will not be allowed to receive the sacraments of Baptism or Matrimony, serve as a godparent for Baptism or Confirmation, or receive the parishioner discount in the school, until six months of active parishioner status has been demonstrated.
These policies are almost universal in the United States, where they are a local means of applying certain dispositions of canon law to protect the integrity of the sacramental order. They are part of the ecclesiastical discipline of the Church which expects adult Catholics to be mature and active members of their parish family, indicating a minimum level of practice to receive the sacraments.
With COVID, a General Dispensation from Mass attendance meant that these policies were also temporarily suspended. As of 5 June 2021, the solemn obligation for Mass attendance under pain of mortal sin is reinstated in the Diocese of Charleston. That means that the corresponding policy regarding active membership is also reinstated on that day. There will be a grace period of six months, until 5 December 2021, before the parish begins to apply the policy again.
Please remember that the letter of good standing is not issued based on any particular priest’s recollection of your Mass attendance; it is based on 75% Mass attendance each Sunday using the envelope system and recorded by the parish. Before COVID, we had a relatively small group of parishioners using one form of electronic giving. During COVID, a significant proportion of our people switched to one of three platforms of electronic giving. Some people give weekly, biweekly, monthly, quarterly, or even yearly. The letter of good standing is based, not on the frequency or amount of giving (although that should reflect a mature understanding of biblical principles of stewardship), but on Mass attendance. Now that more and more people are using electronic forms of giving, there has to be a way to track weekly Mass attendance. Right now, the only way to do this is by the use of envelopes.
If you give electronically, you may drop your offertory envelope with a 0-online giving note in the offertory basket when you come. If you forget your envelope, there are some available on the credenzas in the narthex. We have a subcommittee of the parish staff looking into the possibility of electronic forms of check-in for Sunday Mass attendance; when we decide on a platform for that, this policy will be updated and the faithful notified.
Sometimes people have specific individual or family situations that mean that one or more four requirements for active parishioner status is not possible or unduly burdensome. If you communicate in a general way to the parish office the reason for that situation, we can notate our records to that effect, so that you will not be rendered inactive if you wish to remain active.
If you change your address, email address, or phone number, please notify the parish as soon as possible. If you move away from the parish, then please do so as well.
Thank you in advance for your cooperation with these policies. They are not there to make life burdensome. Instead, they are part of that ecclesiastical discipline which is a sign of true communion of heart and mind with your local Church and a maturity of faith measured, not in terms of minimalism, but authentic Catholic practice.