Q. 1. How does the Catholic Church go about choosing the name of a new Church and parish?
A. 1. The guideline regarding the naming of Catholic Churches is found in the liturgical book called the Rite of Dedication of a Church and an Altar (1989). This document is administered in conjunction with Catholic Canon Laws # 1217 & 1218.
The chosen name of a Church must be:
- the name of the Trinity, or
- a name for Christ, invoked in the liturgy, or a mystery of his life, or
- the name of the Holy Spirit, or
- a name for Mary, invoked under a title for her used in the liturgy, or
- the name of a holy angel, or
- the name of a canonized saint, as it appears in the Roman martyrology (or appendix), or
- the name of a blessed provided the Apostolic See has given its permission.
The aforementioned guide also made reference to merging Churches. If several parishes are merged into one, the names of the churches from the former parishes are retained and the newly merged parish, for pastoral reasons, can adopt a name different from the names of the churches it will inherit.
For example, if Saint Andrew and Saint Paul are merging into a new parish, the Bishop may decide to give a new name such as Saint Thomas to the new parish/Church. That way, everybody is starting anew in the new birth of a Church/parish.