I am under the impression that a Roman Catholic parish priest must visit the households of his parish on an annual basis. But is this done anymore?

I am sure it has been promulgated somewhere and at some time in the past. Can anyone provide any light on this? Thank you.

  • 1
    Pope St. Pius X did this before he was elected pope.
    – Geremia
    Commented Jul 20, 2023 at 20:14
  • @Geremia As Patriarch of Venice? If so, then for that specific locality?
    – DDS
    Commented Jul 20, 2023 at 22:00
  • 1
    When appointed rector of Salzano, first "he set to work at once to visit his people" (Forbes, Life of Pius X p. 21). I'll try to find a better reference in another biography of Pope St. Pius X and get back to you.
    – Geremia
    Commented Jul 21, 2023 at 0:26
  • Thank you @Geremia
    – DDS
    Commented Jul 21, 2023 at 0:52

3 Answers 3


Do Priests Make Yearly Visits to Households Anymore?

Some priests still do this. It is one of those things most priests do not do because of the lack priests nowadays. Priests have huge parishes and many have several parishes to look after.

Unfortunately the times are not good for this practice.

I know priests who have a three year plan in place for this. And others who visit only the affluent members of the parish. I know some who deliberately seek out those in most need also. It all depends on the priest in question now.

Back in the day, a pastor knew his entire flock. Not anymore. Plus pastoral moving assignments are yet another cause of this problem now. At one time pastors did not move around like today.

Yes, it still happens, but it is more and more rare.

  • Thank you for your answer. I remember reading several years ago in a book that these visits were mandated (I don't know if it was by the Vatican or by some local ordinaries). I have never again been able to find this again. Would you know if such was ever an official (promulgated) mandate on the part of the Church?
    – DDS
    Commented Jul 20, 2023 at 16:34
  • 1
    @I.Chekhov You are correct. It was at one time mandated. Believe it came from the Vatican. Remember reading it somewhere.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Jul 20, 2023 at 20:36
  • Many thanks. If you recall any more details, I would be grateful to know of them.
    – DDS
    Commented Jul 20, 2023 at 22:01

1983 Code of Canon Law:

Can. 529 §1. In order to fulfill his office diligently, a pastor is to strive to know the faithful entrusted to his care.

Therefore he is to visit families, sharing especially in the cares, anxieties, and griefs of the faithful, strengthening them in the Lord, and prudently correcting them if they are failing in certain areas. With generous love he is to help the sick, particularly those close to death, by refreshing them solicitously with the sacraments and commending their souls to God; with particular diligence he is to seek out the poor, the afflicted, the lonely, those exiled from their country, and similarly those weighed down by special difficulties. He is to work so that spouses and parents are supported in fulfilling their proper duties and is to foster growth of Christian life in the family.

A Parish Pastoral Directory, edited by William Dalton, (Dublin: The Columba Press, 1996), p. 28, quoted in Durkan, John. “The Priest and Home Visitation.” The Furrow 48, no. 9 (1997), pp. 481–82:

A systematic pastoral visitation of homes is an indispensable instrument of pastoral care and is not to be equated with a mere social calling on people. This enables the priest to get to know his people and their concerns. An active ministry of presence, where the Church becomes visible by going into the homes of people including those who feel alienated and estranged, becomes the touchstone for effective ministry. The ministry of the priest in his parish is as much one of compassion as it is one of conversion. The more the Church is brought into the homes of her sons and daughters, the more likely they are to bring themselves into the house of God. It is through a ministry of compassionate presence that the more explicit proclamation of the Word becomes possible. Home visitation is therefore at the very heart of evangelisation. Every parish should have some form of regular programme for calling on parishioners or engaging in home visitation. Priests should make it a priority to visit a certain number of homes each year and if possible each week. The very vast majority of people appreciate being visited by their priest. Each priest should have a register of the people in the area of the parish assigned to him.

  • Thank you most kindly for this answer.
    – DDS
    Commented Jul 21, 2023 at 10:47

It still happens in Eastern Catholic and Orthodox churches, the one I'm thinking about is a baptismal rite.

I would attribute why it's not practised in western churches for 2 reasons:

  1. If you compare the eastern and western churches, you see the amount of laxity which genarally exists in the west, for example with regards to fasting. Western people are generally disoriented by the luxurious lives the prosperity of their countries have given them (this is my opinion). This makes them be more concerned about earthly matters than the heavenly ones.

  2. The rise of the protestants caused many Cahtolic priests in many European countries to go underground (eg. the UK). Hence such visits became less with time and they were never brought back.

In general, if one asked a priest to do it in person, I don't think the priest would mind; especially if you were a member of his parish.

  • 2
    Can you please back your statements with sources
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Jul 20, 2023 at 16:09
  • Yes. Take this recent research (yesterday) saying that less than 1 in 10 Italians are Catholics youtube.com/watch?v=EO-yNRm4qaw
    – ellat
    Commented Jul 21, 2023 at 8:02

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .