Five Tips for Parishes from Pope Francis

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Tips for Parishes
Background Img: Church Sainte Marie, Church Point NS 
Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Everything Pope Francis says is always so heartfelt, so quotable, so real. Reading through all of the speeches, homilies and messages that he gives is a real treat. If you don’t already, I recommend reading up on his activities at the Vatican website. Or check out news on Vatican RadioNews.Va or get the free Pope App.

Whatever way you choose to do it, it is worth reading Pope Francis’s direct words instead of getting what he says second-hand from the media. There are so many treasures, most of which are not filtered down to us through other news sources.

One such treasure is the words that Pope Francis has given us on parish life. He has real, applicable advice and it is based on his inspiring vision of a Church that goes out of itself, a Church that is missionary, a Church that is merciful and a Church that evangelizes, even in its everyday activities.

I thought I would share some of the gems I have found in my perusal of the Vatican web site.

Here are five tips for parishes from Pope Francis:

1. DON’T Be Like A Custom’s Office: Pope Francis is pretty clear in this, Jesus “instituted seven sacraments” it is not the place of the parish office to institute an eighth sacrament –  “the sacrament of the pastoral customs office.” In other words, the parish office should not close doors for people.

And yet most of us can think of times when we have felt more like we are at the DMV rather than our parish office because of the way we were treated or the business-like approach that was used. Attitudes like this attempt to “control faith rather than facilitating it.” Instead, Pope Francis prays that “all who approach the Church find doors open to encounter Jesus’ love”.

2. DON’T Be Tarantulas: Pope Francis says that when people go to their parish, they should feel like they are entering their mother’s home. He says, “Being parish secretary means opening the front door of the mother’s home, not closing it! And one can close the door in many ways. In Buenos Aires there was a famous parish secretary: they called her the “tarantula”… I’ll say no more! To know how to open the door in the moment: welcome and tenderness.”

3. DO Put Those Who Are “Distant” First: I have often heard grumbling about families who only come to their parish for baptisms, weddings and funerals. These people are often treated like a last priority, but Pope Francis urges us to put those distant from the Church first. Why? Because we want these people to become regulars.

Pope Francis says, “It is about assuming missionary dynamism in order to reach everyone, putting first those who feel distant and the most vulnerable and forgotten people. It means opening the doors and letting Jesus go forth. Many times we keep Jesus closed inside the parishes with us, and we do not go out and we do not let Him leave! Open the doors so He can go out, at least Him! It is about a Church which “goes forth”: a Church which always goes forth.”

4. DO Get the Laity Involved: Pope Francis is pretty clear on this, the laity need to be involved in their parishes. Parishes do not belong to priests or to the parish office, they belong to everyone. This is why parishes need laity on councils, advising and helping in the running of everyday matters. In fact, Pope Francis very sternly has said that “a parish that does not have a pastoral Council and a Finance Council, is not a good parish: it lacks life.”

5. DON’T Gossip Or Cause Division: If only our parishes were exempt from ordinary, sinful human behavior. Alas, they are not. But we can examine our part in making a parish a place of unity and communion or creating division.

Pope Francis urges us, “Let each one ask him- or herself today ‘do I increase harmony in my family, in my parish, in my community or am I a gossip. Am I a cause of division or embarrassment? . . . Gossip does harm! Gossip wounds. Before Christians open their mouths to gossip, they should bite their tongue! To bite one’s tongue: this does us good because the tongue swells and can no longer speak, cannot gossip. Am I humble enough to patiently stitch up, through sacrifice, the open wounds in communion?’”

This is just the tip of the iceberg, try digging into Pope Francis’ words on any topic and you will get more treasures.

Please feel free to share your favorite piece of Pope Francis advice on any topic in the comments!

Theresa Noble

Theresa Noble

Sr. Theresa Noble is a novice, aka nun in training, with a religious congregation of sisters in the US. She left her job in California with eBay to follow God four years ago. She currently lives in a convent in Boston where she prays, evangelizes, bakes bread and blogs at Pursued by Truth (

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40 thoughts on “Five Tips for Parishes from Pope Francis”

  1. Pingback: The Beauty of Our Faith in One Picture -

      1. Avatar

        No Jimmy boy, my sensus Catholicus does… he attacks the most orthodox Catholics ie neo-pelagians, apologizes to Pentacostals, tell us not preach the Gospel. I want Pope BXVI back… thank you

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        Rather the chuckeheads who used to kevech endlessly over Pope St John Paul II kissing a Koran, that two Muslims gave him as a gift, obviously need something else to kevech about. Unless Pope Francis brings back the Assisi events.

        They are like Greek women in that movie staring Tom Hanks’ wife (FAT GREEK WEDDING something).

        They need to kevech or they die.

        Give it a rest Prot boy. I actually read the Pope’s actual words.
        In context. Not filtered threw either the liberal media or THE REMNANT or the SSPX.

        The Pope has not told us not to preach the Gospel.

        You sir are full of it.

      3. Avatar

        In that case Pope Gregory was wrong…I wonder how he would feel about those wonderful worshipers “of the same God” liquidating Mosul of Catholics

      4. Avatar

        You know better then a Pope who opposed the Muslims in the beginning. A pope who is a Saint?

        That is just pride.

      5. Avatar

        Well they deny the Divinity of Christ and do not accept the Trinity, that pretty much says it all

      6. Avatar

        But on the level of natural theology along with the Jews & intention Muslims worship the same God they just do it incorrectly and with incorrect knowledge.

        Muslims & Christians are like Englishmen who are loyal to the Queen. The Christian correctly knows the Queen is an Octogenarian who once was a brunette. The Muslim wrongly thinks the Queen is a 17 year old Swedish woman.

        Learn some Aquinas and some Gregory of Nyssa ya silly Lutheran wannabe.

      7. Avatar

        Of whom Pope Francis spoke out for as the Vatican with the Italian government also helped get that poor Christian woman out of the Sudan sentenced to death by the Muslim heretics.

      8. Avatar

        Rather what you claim that it is “Muslim heretics” are simply a part of what is true Islam.

      9. Avatar

        No all Muslims are objectively heretics. Islam in all it’s forms is heresy. Wither a peaceful contemplative Sufi, a Moderate Muslim or violent Jihadist. All are heretics.

        In fact all non-Catholics are heretics and or Schismatics on the objective level.

        I dont apologize for believing my Catholic faith to be The Fullness of the Truth.

      10. Avatar

        Protestant either/or mentality. God in his divine Providence is the ultimate source of all the good that has been done and will be done. God inspires all efficacious Prayer. But God clearly works threw instruments. Thus is proper to say God cast Satan out of Heaven and Prince Michael cast him out of Heaven.

      11. Avatar

        I do not believe Muslims worship the “same God” as the Jews and the Christians. Otherwise the Muslims would not only have left the Israelis alone and never have been going to war so many times against that country, including this most recent one in Gaza against Hamas. Also ISIS would have left the Christians in Iraq alone in places such as Mosul alone, Christian communites that go back to the days of the founding by the apostles of Jesus and not thrown them out.

        This and other reasons why I do not accept that the Muslims worship the “same God” as Jews and Christians.

      12. Avatar

        I am looking at the issue from the perspective of Natural & Philosophical theology via Thomism. It is rather clear cut. You are clearly looking at Muslim Terrorists wicked behavior and assessing they are acting in a godless manner so they clearly aren’t offing any real good worship to God.

        Let me put it too you this way. A Baptist Klansmen who confesses the Trinity worships the same God as we do & even more correctly then a Muslim because he confesses the Trinity. But obviously anyone who murders people because they are a darker skin color lacks grace and is following evil.

        Even demons believe and they Tremble.

      13. Avatar

        I stopped reading WND when they got into birtherism.

        Conspiracy theories are for the weak minded.

        But I will take a look.

        Thank you.

      14. Avatar

        Christian community in Mosul has existed a long time with muslims around them. I think certain muslim groups have their own additional teachings with different goals. People and groups can also be influenced by their upbringing and attitudes of hostility, dislike, and hate. Muslims do worship one God but they dont have a complete and correct uderstanding of God, it is a shadowy understanding of God.

    1. Avatar

      The ridiculous thing is that it should have been obvious to the Holy Spirit. I’m glad you were here to clear that up!

      Or did you mean the author? Because Theresa is usually a woman’s name…

      Or did you mean yourself? I won’t argue with you there. You know you better than I do.

      1. Avatar

        You are right I do, Francis is a disaster for the Church, he currently help destroying the Franciscans of the Immaculate Order of both Priests and Nuns a great young order that was producing vocations.. Why because the “possible schismatic tendencies”… Good job Frankie…

      2. Avatar

        Yes non-schismatics never run around committing calumny and or detraction of the Pope 24/7 & have spiritual lives off the Internet.

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        Not me Jimmy my you are angry perhaps you need a drink of water.. any Francis is a disaster bye

    2. Avatar

      Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone. You also might correct your grammar before you post a comment, especially one insulting our Pope and calling him intellectually incapable of sitting on the throne of St. Peter. Could you do any better?

    1. Avatar

      The only leader right now can be compared to a Reagan, a Thatcher, and a St. John Paul II is right now the PM of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu who is leading a nation that is right now in the middle of another war. God Bless America and Israel!

  2. Pingback: Five Tips for Parishes from Pope Francis | Oblates of St. Benedict

  3. Pingback: Five Tips for Parishes from Pope Francis: | Santuario de San Antonio Parish

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