The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







A parish is a subdivision of a diocese or bishopric within the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Church of Sweden, and of some other churches. In Roman Catholicism, each parish has the services of a parish priest, who acts as the chaplain to the area. In some countries, a parish priest may have a fellow priest, called a curate, working along with him. Each parish usually has a central church or chapel, called the parish church, where religious services take place. Some larger parishes may have a number of such churches or chapels.

With the decline in the numbers of people seeking ordination, in some countries many parishes are now being merged together or are all sharing the services of one priest. In some countries, parishes are now merely the equivalent of states in the USA, provinces in Canada or counties in England.

A parish, sometimes called "civil parish" to distinguish it from a religious one, is also a geographical subdivision used in several parts of the world, including:

In these areas, it originated as a religious subdivision, but over time has come to be either a purely civil one, or (in some jurisdictions in which the church is not separate from the state) one that is simultaneously ecclesiastical and civil. The lowlands of South Carolina were also previously divided into parishes, rather than counties, well into the nineteenth century.

See also

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