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You are welcome to visit our Catholic churches and meet the people who gather, worship and serve the community across the western suburbs of Sydney, the Blue Mountains, and the Hawkesbury region.

What is the difference between a church and a parish?

You may hear or read the words “parish” and “church” used interchangeably, but in the Catholic context, a church and a parish are distinct yet interconnected entities. 

The word “church” can refer to multiple meanings. It can denote the entire universal Catholic Church, the local diocesan church (such as the Diocese of Parramatta), a specific parish community, or the physical building where members of the Catholic community gather for worship, prayer, and sacraments. The physical building serves as a sacred space and a place of spiritual encounters and communal worship.

A “parish” refers to a specific geographical area or community within the Catholic Church. It encompasses not only the physical church building that members of the community gather in but also the people who belong to that particular community. The parish is led by a priest and encompasses various ministries, activities, and programs that cater to the spiritual, educational, and social needs of its members. It serves as a centre for spiritual formation, pastoral care and religious education (as our Catholic schools are always linked to a parish). 

In essence, while a church building refers to a physical structure, the parish represents the living community of believers who come together in that church, supporting and nourishing one another in their faith journey.

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