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Arthur Norek wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • When a Church has been consecrated with a name, for example, St Joseph's,
    by what authority can that name be changed and for what reason(s)?
  • Does that Church then have to be consecrated again with the new name chosen for it?
  • Why is it not forbidden to change the original name which had been fine for almost
    a century?

I am a Catholic who would appreciate an answer.

Thank you,


  { By what authority and for what reasons can a Catholic parish's name be changed? }

Mike replied:

Hi, Arthur —

Thanks for the question.

Seeing that the bishops of the Church are the current day Apostles of our Church, they have the authority, Jesus invested in them and their successors, to change the name of any Church.

In my area of Boston, we had a period where churches were suppressed or combined.

Sometimes the names were just combined like {St. Peter - St. Paul's}, other times, neither name was used but two churches were combined under the title using a new saint's name.

Most of the time, if the parishioners of that diocese have a pastoral sensitive bishop, the bishop will get input and feedback from the parishioners of those churches that are being combined with each other.

To my knowledge, the Church doesn't have to be consecrated, though the bishop will usually have a special Mass for such an occasion.

You said:

  • Why is it not forbidden to change the original name which had been fine for almost a century?

This all comes under the authority and responsibility of the local bishop. His primary job is:

  • the administration of the churches under his care
  • the preaching the Gospel to the faithful, and
  • the salvation of souls in general.

Any action involving the changing of the name of a church, should have these goals in mind.

The important thing for the parishioner to remember is, this is his responsibility, not ours.
I know an event like this can be a very painful period of time, but just offer it up.

I personally would rather go through the painful process of suppressing or closing a few churches, yet be financially stable, than keep too many churches open and see the diocese file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The four primary things I pray for our diocese are:

  • holiness for our bishops, seminary professors, pastors, priests, and laity
  • liturgical orthodoxy in how the Holy Mass is celebrated
  • orthodox teaching that is faithful to the Magisterium, and
  • financial stability

    in this order : )

Hope this helps,


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