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Catholic Doors Ministry


Special stole made of lamb's wool worn over the chasuble by the Pope and archbishops; it signifies communion of archbishops with the Holy See.

papal infallibility

The end result of divine assistance given the pope, wherefore he is prevented from the possibility and liability of error in teachings on faith or morals.

Papal Representatives

The three types of representatives of the Roman Pontiff are:

1) Legate: An individual appointed by the Pope to be his personal representative to a nation, international conference, or local church. The legate may be chosen from the local clergy of a country.

2) Apostolic Nuncio: In the United States, the papal representative is sent by the Pope to both the local church and the government. His title is Nuncio. Although he holds the title of ambassador, under U.S. law he is not accorded the special privilege of being the dean of the diplomatic corps. In countries where he is dean of the diplomatic corps, his title is Apostolic Nuncio.

3) Permanent Observer to the United Nations: The Apostolic See maintains permanent legates below the ambassadoria level to several world organizations. Since the Papal Legate does not enjoy the right to vote within the organization, his title at the United Nations is that of Observer.

papal nuncio

See apostolic nuncio.


A specific community of the Christian faithful within a diocese, having its own church building, under the authority of a pastor who is responsible for providing ministerial service. Most parishes are formed on a geographic basis, but they may be formed along national or ethnic lines.

parish coordinator

A deacon, religious, or lay person who is responsible for the pastoral care of parish. The parish coordinator is in charge of the day-to-day life of the parish in the areas of worship, education, pastoral service and administration.


A priest in charge of a Catholic parish or congregation. He is responsible for administering the sacraments, instructing the congregation in the doctrine of the church, and providing other services to the people of the parish. Pastor is not ordinarily used as a title before the name of a Catholic priest: He is Father John Smith or Msgr. John Smith or the Rev. John Smith, depending on your publication's style manual.

Pastoral Associate

A member of the laity who is part of a parish ministry team.

pastoral council

A group of members of the parish who advise the pastor on parish matters.

A parish or (arch)diocesan body that the pastor or (arch)bishop consults concerning policies and major decisions in the governance of the local church. Such a council's role is consultative and always subject to the final authority of the pastor or bishop.


The plate used to hold the bread.

Pectoral Cross

A cross worn on a chain about the neck of bishops and abbots as a mark of their office.

Penitential Rite

A general acknowledgment by the entire assembly of sinfulness and the need for God's mercy.

Permanent Observer to the United Nations

The Apostolic See maintains permanent legates below the ambassadorial level to several world organizations. Since the Papal Legate does not enjoy the right to vote within the organization, his title at the United Nations is that of Observer.

Pontiff, Pontifical

This is used as an alternative form of reference to the pope. Pontifical has to do with the pope.

Prayer after Communion

The final prayer by the celebrant in which he petitions that the sacrament be beneficial for all.

Prayer over the gifts

The prayer by the celebrant asking that the gifts to be offered be made holy and acceptable.


The raising of the mind and heart to God in adoration, thanksgiving, reparation and petition. The official prayer of the Church as a worshiping community is called the liturgy.

preface dialogue

The introductory dialogue between the celebrant and assembly in which all are invited to join in prayer and thanksgiving to God.

Preparation of the Gifts

The time in the Mass when the bread and wine to be used in the celebration are brought to the celebrant, usually by representatives of the faithful.

presbyteral council

Also known as the priests' council, this is the principal consultative body mandated by the Code of Canon Law to advise the diocesan bishop in matters of pastoral governance. It consists of bishops and priests serving the diocese.


May be a synonym for priesthood or may refer to the collective body of priests of a diocese or similar ecclesiastical jurisdiction.


Papal primacy refers to the pope's authority over the whole church.

Processional Cross

The cross carried in the processions.

Profession of Faith

The people together recall and proclaim the fundamental teachings of the faith. The Profession of Faith is used on all Sundays, and solemnities. Also called the Creed.


To bring one to another's viewpoint whether in religion or other areas. Some refer to it as trying to convert someone to their faith.


(1) A grouping of an archdiocese, called the metropolitan see, and the dioceses under it, called suffragan sees. The Code of Canon Law spells out certain limited obligations and authority that the metropolitan archbishop has with respect to the dioceses within his province.

(2) A grouping of communities of a religious order under the jurisdiction of a provincial superior.


The state or condition in which those who have died in the state of grace, but with some attachment to sin, suffer for a time as they are being purified before they are admitted to the glory and happiness of heaven.


One who is called upon to proclaim the scriptures during the Liturgy of the Word.


The physical remains and effects of saints, which are considered worthy of veneration inasmuch as they are representative of persons in glory with God.


The adoration and service of God as expressed in divine worship and in daily life.

religious movements

Groups of people, both lay and clerical, who band together to promote a certain belief or activity.

religious priest/diocesan priest

Religious priests are professed members of a religious order or institute. Religious clergy live according to the rule of their respective orders. In pastoral ministry, they are under the jurisdiction of their local bishop, as well as of the superiors of their order.

Diocesan, or secular, priests are under the direction of their local bishop. Most serve in the parishes of the diocese, but they may also be assigned to other diocesan posts and ministries or be released for service outside the diocese.

religious titles before names

Of course you will follow your own publication's style manual for use of religious titles before names. But in general, Catholics refer to nuns as Sister, religious brothers as Brother and priests as Father, and those religious titles take precedence over whatever job titles they might hold, such as pastor, chancellor, vicar general, associate pastor, executive director. The other chief religious titles for clerics are Msgr., Bishop, Archbishop, Cardinal, Pope and, for the head of a male monastic community, Abbot. For many members of religious orders, the short version of their order's name may precede the religious title: Mercy Sister Mary Smith, Jesuit Father John Smith, Benedictine Brother Peter Smith. In certain cases it may be better to use an appositive phrase or some other approach: Sister Janet Smith, a School Sister of Notre Dame, rather than School Sister of Notre Dame Sister Janet Smith.

Responsorial Psalm

After the first reading there is a psalm as a response to the reading. The response, repeated after verses, is sung by the assembly, while a cantor or choir sings the verses of the psalm.


A period of time spent in meditation and religious exercise. Retreats may take various forms, from traditional closed forms, to open retreats which do not disengage the participants from day-to-day life. Both clergy and lay people of all ages participate in retreats. Houses and centers providing facilities for retreats are retreat houses.

Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA)

The norms and rituals of the Catholic Church for people who wish to join the Church. Part of the book is intended for baptized Christians who wish to become Catholics. The term is used in a general sense to refer to the process of entering the Catholic Church.

Roman Curia

The official collective name for the administrative agencies and courts, and their officials, who assist the Pope in governing the Church. Members are appointed and granted authority by the Pope.

Rome, Diocese of

The City of Rome is the diocese of the pope, as the bishop of Rome.


A prayer of meditation primarily on events in the lives of Mary and Jesus, repeating five sets of the Our Father, ten Hail Marys and the Glory Be. It is generally said on a string of beads.


The book used by the celebrant, containing all the prayers for the liturgy of the Mass.


Catholics, like Orthodox Christians, believe that there are seven sacraments: baptism, confirmation, Eucharist, penance, matrimony, holy orders and the anointing of the sick. The first three are also called the sacraments of Christian initiation, and in the Eastern Catholic and Orthodox traditions they are administered together in infancy. In the Latin rite Church baptism is administered to infants, but the first reception of the Eucharist (first Communion) and confirmation are typically delayed until the child has reached the use of reason, generally regarded as about the age of seven. Eastern Catholics and Orthodox usually refer to confirmation as chrismation. Penance is also called the sacrament of reconciliation. The anointing of the sick used to be called extreme unction when it was only given to those gravely ill or in danger of death. Now it can be administered to anyone who is seriously or chronically ill.


That part of the church where the altar is located.

Second Vatican Council

A major meeting of the Bishops of the world convened by Pope John XXIII to bring about a renewal of the Church for the second half of the 20th century. It ran from 1962 to 1965 and produced important documents in liturgy, ecumenism, communications and other areas.

secular institutes

Societies of men and women living in the world who dedicate themselves to observe the evangelical counsels and to carry on apostolic works suitable to their talents and opportunities in every day life.


Another name for a diocese or archdiocese. It appears in such phrases as Holy See, titular see, metropolitan see, suffragan see, see city. The see city is that city after which the diocese or archdiocese is named. See Holy See, metropolitan, province and titular see.


An educational institution for men preparing for the priesthood.

Serra Club

Local units of Serra International, an organization which promotes vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and offers instructions to lay leaders.


Erected to encourage private devotions to a saint, it usually contains a picture, statue or other religious feature capable of inspiring devotions.

Sign of Peace

Before sharing the body of Christ the members of the community are invited to express their love and peace with one another.

Sign of the Cross

A sign, ceremonial gesture or movement in the form of a cross by which a person confesses faith in the Holy Trinity and Christ, and intercedes for the blessing of himself, other persons, and things.


In popular speech, any woman religious. Strictly, the title applies to women religious of those institutes, mostly formed during or since the 19th century, whose members do not profess solemn vows. See nun.


A group of laity, established for the promotion of Christian life and worship, or some other religious purpose.

St. Vincent de Paul Society

An organization of lay persons who serve the poor through spiritual and material works of mercy. The society operates stores, rehabilitation workshops, food centers, shelters, criminal justice and other programs.

Stations of the Cross

Also known as The Way of the Cross, this devotion to the suffering of Christ consist of prayers and meditations on fourteen occurences experienced by Christ on His way to His crucifixion. Each of these occurances is represented by a cross. This can be done individually, or in groups with one person leading the prayers and moving from cross to cross.


The vestment worn around the neck by all ordained ministers. For priests, bishops and Pope, it hangs down in front (under the chasuble); the deacons wear it over their left shoulder crossed and fastened at the right side.


The head of a religious order or congregation. He or she may be the head of a province or of an individual house.


A loose, flowing vestment of white fabric with wide sleeves. For some functions it is inter- changeable with an alb.


Church penalty under which a priest, while retaining his clerical status, is no longer permitted to perform priestly functions such as celebrating Mass, preaching or administering the sacraments.


A gathering of designated officials and representatives of a church, with legislative and policymaking powers.


Eucharist, Celebration of the Liturgy, Eucharistic celebration, Sacrifice of the Mass, Lord's Supper.


Place in the church where the Eucharist or sacred species is reserved.

Tekakwitha Conference

The group dedicated to advocating the cause of sainthood of the Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, an American Indian.


An institution which provides the last four years of study for candidates for priesthood.


The study of God and religion, deriving from and based on the data of divine Revelation, organized and systematized according to some kind of scientific method.

titular see

If a bishop does not have his own diocese, he is given a titular see: that is, a place that once was the seat of a diocese but no longer is. Auxiliary bishops and bishops in Vatican service are examples of those given titular sees. Many titular sees are ancient cities of the Middle East or Northern Africa. But there are some titular sees in the United States as well, such as Bardstown, Ky. (original seat of what is now the Archdiocese of Louisville), or Jamestown, N.D. (now in the Diocese of Fargo). The Annuario Pontificio devotes more than 200 pages to the listing of titular sees, where it gives basic biographical information about the bishops who hold them.

Titular Sees

Dioceses where the Church once flourished but which later died out. Bishops without a territorial or residential diocese of their own, e.g., auxiliary bishops, are given titular sees.


A tribunal (court) is the name given to the person or persons who exercise the church's judicial powers. Each diocese has a diocesan tribunal, used mainly to hear marriage cases. Each archdiocese has an archdiocesan tribunal (a court of first trial) and a metropolitan tribunal, an appeals court that reviews decisions of diocesan courts in that ecclesiastical province when necessary. (The Catholic Church in Canada has a slightly different system, with regional instead of metropolitan appeals courts.)

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