Many Catholic schools ask for a Certificate of Catholic Practice as part of their Admissions Procedure. A Certificate of Catholic Practice is usually obtained from a priest of the parish where you most regularly attend Mass. Each Parish Priest will have is own process for determining whether he is able to provide a certificate for a particular family.
The purpose of the Certificate of Catholic Practice is to provide a single objective test for Catholic practice: i.e. whether a child comes from a practising family. For the purposes of the Certificate of Catholic Practice, a person is a practising Catholic if they observe the Church’s precept of attending Mass on Sundays and holidays of obligation. However, several pastoral factors may determine what constitutes a practising Catholic in individual circumstances.
Priests cannot be expected to be able to recall whether or not each parishioner has attended Mass every single Sunday or holiday of obligation, nor can they be expected to know whether or not, on a particular occasion, a person is lawfully excused from doing so. However, it is also clear that fortnightly or monthly attendance does not constitute the practice required by Canons 1246-1248 of the Code of Canon Law.
The Procedure for Obtaining at Certificate of Catholic Practice at St Francis de Sales
So that Fr Shaun may have observable, substantiated evidence of Mass attendance, on a number of random Sundays throughout the year (but always in school term time), he will make an announcement at the end of Mass stressing the importance of any parents requiring a Certificate of Catholic Practice for Nursery, Reception or Secondary places in a Catholic School for the next accessible academic year to see him as they leave the Mass, providing him with the name of the child for whom the Certificate will be required. Please provide Fr Shaun with your child’s name at the end of each Sunday Mass you attend, where he makes this request, not just the first time you hear him request it.
This system will allow Fr Shaun to build an objective, substantiated record of your Mass attendance. Of course, as this process will not happen every weekend, it will not be expected that families have 100% attendance throughout the year, but it will, nevertheless, allow Fr Shaun to build up a picture of whether there is substantive evidence of consistent and regular practice. Please remember that fortnightly or monthly attendance does not constitute the practice required by Canon Law.
If you regularly attend Mass at another church as well as at St Francis de Sales, the onus is on you to provide Fr Shaun with substantive evidence from other sources (i.e. a letter from the priest of the parish where you visit regularly).
Families seeking a Certificate of Catholic Practice for a Nursery, Reception or Secondary place in a Catholic school and who have serious pastoral reasons for not attending Sunday Mass regularly should contact Fr Shaun as soon as possible to discuss the circumstances. Please do not leave this until the day you come for the signing of the Certificate of Catholic Practice.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding the Certificate of Catholic Practice, please contact Fr Shaun at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please help Fr Shaun to help you secure the Certificate of Catholic Practice for your children by attending Sunday Mass as frequently as you possibly can.