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A parish is a territorial unit historically under the pastoral care of one parish priest, who might be assisted in his pastoral duties by a curate or curates - also priests but not the parish priest - from a more or less central parish church with its associated organization.

By extension the term parish refers not only to the territorial unit but to the people of its community or congregation as well as to church property within it. In England this church property was technically in the ownership of the parish priest, vested in him on his institution to that parish.



First attested in English late 13th century, the word parish comes from the Old French "paroisse", in turn from Latin "paroecia",[1] which is the romanization of the Greek "παροικία" (paroikia), "sojourning in a foreign land",[2] itself from "πάροικος" (paroikos), "dwelling beside, stranger, sojourner",[3] which is a compound of "παρά" (para), " beside, by, near"[4] + "οἶκος" (oikos), "house".[5]

Church territorial structure

  • A chapelry is a subdivision of a parish to cope with difficult access
  • A parish is a subdivision of a diocese or see. The diocese is headed by a bishop
  • An archdeaconry is another subdivision of a diocese, it is a group of parishes
  • A diocese is a subdivision of a province. The province is led by a metropolitan bishop
  • A province may cover all or part of a country or a group of countries and be presided over by an archbishop who is Primate

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