Christ Our Hope

Frequently Asked Questions

Our FAQ section is organized by Diocesan Office. If you don't find the answer you are seeking, we encourage you to contact the Pastoral Center directly and we will point you to the right person. 



Catholic Schools

I am interested in sending my child to a Catholic School. Where do I start?
Congratulations! You are making a great decision for your family and child. You can start by visiting our locations page, to find a Catholic school in your area. Next, contact the school(s) to set up an interview to find the school that is the best fit for your child. Then, check with the individual school to answer questions like:
What is the application deadline?
What school records will you need?
Are there any admission requirements?
What are the immunization requirements?

How much does a Catholic Education cost?
Tuition fees vary from school to school, but the average tuition costs are $5,100 for Elementary School and $10,200 for High School. These average tuition costs do not account for the total cost of educating one child.

Is there Financial aid available?
Financial aid is available from the dioceses, McMahon Parater Foundation and the individual schools. Families seeking tuition assistance are asked to apply at thier individual schools and complete a FACTS application.

What is the average student ratio to teachers?
Class size should not exceed 30, but it is highly recommended that the class size not exceed 25 students. Each school’s ratio differs but the average is 18:1

What is the administrative structure in the Office of Catholic Schools?

  • The Administrators of OCS work together to create a Catholic School System that reflects the of Jesus Christ within a community of Faith.
  • The Chief Education Administrator oversees the Office of Catholic Education, including Christian Formation, Catholic Schools, Strategic Planning and serves as President of the McMahon Parater Foundation.
  • The Superintendent of Schools manages the day to day operations of the schools and serves as the liaison to all state, regional and national boards. As Superintendent, this person directs the staff to meet the Vision of Catholic Schools, as well as overseeing crisis management planning, legislation, teacher certification, school accreditation and school advisory boards.
  • There is one Assistant Superintendent in the Office of Catholic Schools.  The Assistant Superintendent is charged with curriculum development, professional development of teachers, and all auxiliary programs that complement the curriculum of all schools.


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Diocesan Tribunal

Is there a fee for the marriage nullity/annulment process?

No, if the Tribunal of Richmond has a right to hear the case and the petitioner resides in the Diocese.


How long does the process take?
About one year from the time the Tribunal receives a complete petition and supporting materials.


Is an annulment guaranteed?
No. We begin with the presumption of the validity of all marriages. Nullity must be proven.


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Office for Black Catholics

Where is the closest predominantly African American parish?

Predominantly African American Parishes can be found on our Office for Black Catholics website here.

How many African Americans are there in our diocese?

According to the 2010 Parish Annual Report, there are 5,828 African American's registered in our parishes.

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Office of Hispanic Ministry

¿Dónde se celebra la Santa Misa en español? - Where are Masses in Spanish?
       Haga clic aquí: Misas en español - You can also use the Parish/ School Locator on our site to help you find masses in Spanish.


¿Cómo puedo encontrar la BIBLIA católica y otros recursos sobre la liturgia?  How can I find the Catholic Bible in Spanish and acquire liturgical resources? (Click bilingual links below.)

Pulse aquí en los  Recursos Litúrgicos También pueden acceder los mensajes del Sr. Obispo José Madera, M.Sp.S. y el P. Allan Deck, SJ


¿Cómo puedo ordenar el Catecismo y otros documentos de la Iglesia Católica?  How can I order the Catechism and acquire Church documents in Spanish?
Llame a la  librería de la Conferencia de los Obispos Católicos de los EE.UU. entre las 9:30 a.m. y las 5 p.m. hora del Este, de lunes a viernes, al 800-235-8722


¿Dónde puedo acudir los servicios sociales?  Where can I access social services in Spanish? 
    Clínica Móvil Bon Secours Care-a-Van se ofrece en la área metropolitana de Richmond y Petersburg (804) 545-1920,  y en Tidewater (757) 889-5121.

Esta clínica es sólo para los que NO tienen ni seguro médico ni Medicare.  Favor de llegar con un mínimo de una hora de anticipación y dos horas los martes y jueves.  Favor de traer su identificación, cualquier medicamento, e historial médico de su familia.

Busque el horario  “care-a-van schedule” en su área siguiendo   este enlace (en inglés), bajo “news & events” en la parte superior de la página.


¿Con quién me debo comunicar con preguntas sobre la inmigración? - Who can help me with immigration questions? 
Commonwealth Catholic Charities - Caridades Católicas de Virginia
Richmond: 804.545.6946
Hampton Roads (Tidewater): 757.247.3600
Roanoke: 540.342.7561



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Office of Archives

How can I arrange a visit to the Diocesan archives for research purposes?
The Diocesan archives are open by appointment only.  Those seeking access to the archives for research purposes must submit a written request to the archivist providing specific information on the topic of their research.  Once the request is approved, the individual will be notified and an appointment to visit the facility can be scheduled.  Appointments are ordinarily scheduled several weeks in advance in order to allow the archives staff sufficient time to assemble the materials needed for the research project.  For further information on the policies and procedures concerning the use of the archives, please visit the archives website:

How can I or my group arrange a visit to the Museum of Virginia Catholic History?
Museum exhibits are open by appointment.  Any individual, parish group, social organization or school group wishing to visit the museum should call the tour coordinator at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart (804- 359-5651).  For information on current and upcoming exhibits and programs or for more information on scheduling your tour, please visit the museum’s website:

Can the archives assist me with genealogical research by providing sacramental records (baptism, marriage and burial information)?
The Diocesan archives does not maintain sacramental records (baptismal, marriage and burial registers).  These records are always kept at the parish where the sacrament was conferred or from where the burial took place.  In the event that a parish has closed, it is the practice of the Diocese of Richmond that the sacramental records of the closed parish are transferred and maintained by the parish that took over the closed parish's geographical territory.  The archives can assist you by helping to identify the parish where the sacramental records are currently kept.  For more information on obtaining sacramental records, please visit the archives website:


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Office of Development

What is the McMahon Parater Foundation?
The McMahon Parater Foundation was established in 2008 to support and enhance the future of schools throughout the Catholic Diocese of Richmond primarily by providing tuition assistance, enhancing academic programs and resources, and increasing professional development opportunities for teachers. The Foundation is a designated 501(c)3 organization that has a professional staff and is governed by a Board of Directors.

It actively promotes schools throughout the Diocese of Richmond; seeks ongoing philanthropic support; manages gifts, grants, endowments and donations; and distributes funds with the approval of the Bishop of Richmond.

Throughout the Catholic Diocese of Richmond, which encompasses the majority of the state, there are a total of 29 schools with almost 10,000 students. Of the 29 schools, there are 25 with elementary/middle grades, 8 that offer secondary programs and five independent schools in urban, suburban and rural areas throughout the Diocese.

For more information, please contact Margaret Keightley, Executive Director of Advancement at (804) 622-5121 or

What is the Annual Diocesan Appeal?
The Diocese of Richmond conducts an annual campaign (as is the case in every diocese in the United States), to help fund the work of its ministries, agencies, programs, and services. Without such campaigns, the mission, ministry, education, and outreach provided by the Diocese would have to be funded almost totally through the cathedracticum, the assessment that all parishes pay to the Diocese.  

Last year, through the 2009 Annual Appeal, educational support was provided to 14 seminarians, 64 diaconate candidates and aspirants, 16 Catholic schools, and 43 international priests who serve our parishes. It also provided over $100,000 through our Fuel and Hunger Fund to Catholic outreach ministry programs serving children, families in need, and the elderly in communities across Virginia.

Through in-pew and direct mail solicitation efforts as well as a revamped Case for Support, this year’s Appeal has seen an unprecedented level of growth by raising over $3.2 million for the Diocese (an increase of 330% from the previous year). The proceeds for 2010 will assist with the cost of the education of our seminarians, expand our campus ministries, and provide for the increasing health care needs of our retired priests.

For more information, please contact Alex Previtera, Director of Development at (804) 622-5127 or

Is my contribution to the Catholic Diocese of Richmond and/or the McMahon Parater Foundation tax-deductible?
Yes, both the Catholic Diocese of Richmond and the McMahon Parater Foundation are 501(c)3  organizations meaning your contribution(s) may be tax-deductible. It is important to consult your tax professional to see if your contribution does indeed qualify.
When will I receive a letter acknowledging my contribution for tax purposes?
Tax letters from the Diocese will be sent out in mid-January. The total amount of what has been paid-to-date (not total pledged) as of the end of the calendar year will be included on the letter for tax reporting purposes.

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Office of Risk Management

How is it determined that an event or activity at a diocesan location is parish/diocesan sponsored and, therefore, covered by the diocesan self-insurance program?
The following factors are applied in determining if an event is parish/diocesan sponsored and qualifies for Coverage;

  1. The parish/diocese should have full control or final decision making authority over the function.
  2. Any fees associated with the function must flow through parish/diocesan accounts.
  3. If applicable, the function should be open to all parish members.
  4. The purpose of the function should be to facilitate learning, raise funds for the parish/diocese, or provide a social service on behalf of the parish/diocese.
  5. The organizer or leader of the function should be a parish/diocesan employee or volunteer.

Generally, unless all of the above apply a function cannot be classified as being sponsored by a parish or the diocese from the standpoint of insurance coverage.


If an on-premises activity or event is not parish/diocesan sponsored and, therefore, not covered under the diocesan self-insurance program, how should proper liability insurance coverage be applied to the activity?
It is critical that all such activities and events have liability insurance in place to insulate the diocese from liability exposures.  If the facility user has their own liability insurance they  should provide the location with a Certificate of Liability Insurance showing evidence of at least $1 Million of “per occurrence” general liability coverage.  The certificate must name both the location and the Diocese of Richmond as an “Additional Insured”.  In addition, the facility user should sign a Facility Usage & Indemnity Agreement for the location’s records.  

If the facility user does not carry their own liability insurance coverage they should obtain Special Events Coverage through the Diocese of Richmond Office of Risk Management.  The Office of Risk Management interfaces with Catholic Mutual Group and Great American Assurance Company to secure Special Events Coverage on a per event basis.  The coverage is provided separate and apart from the diocesan self-insurance program.            


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Office of Worship

How can I receive Communion if I am gluten intolerant?
The Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Clyde, Missouri, have developed a true low gluten host. The total gluten content of this product is 0.01%; its contents of unleavened wheat and water and free of additives conform to the requirements of the Code of Canon Law, canon 924.2. This product is the only true, low-gluten altar bread known to the Secretariat and approved for use at Mass in the United States. The contact information for ordering such hosts can be obtained here: Communion and Gluten and Alcohol Intolerance Guidelines.pdf

May the American flag remain on a coffin during a funeral liturgy? May the flag be displayed in the sanctuary?
Any national flags or the flags or insignia of associations to which the deceased belonged are to be removed from the coffin at the entrance of the church. They may be replaced after the coffin has been taken from the church. OCF #132. For the policy of the Diocese of Richmond regarding the use of flags in the church, see the following: Display of National Flags. (PDF)

Shouldn’t the tabernacle be the center of our prayer and be placed in the sanctuary?
The tabernacle should be in a place that is “truly noble, prominent, readily visible, beautifully decorated, and suitable for prayer,” (GIRM #314) - a mandate that has been carefully followed by most of our churches, modern or traditional in architecture. Our Eucharistic theology teaches us that it is at the altar that Christ becomes truly and fully present to us. The altar “which in the gathering of the faithful will signify the one Christ and the one Eucharist of the Church” should be so placed “as to be truly the center toward which the attention of the whole congregation of the faithful naturally turns.” (GIRM #303, 299)

According to the most recent teaching of the Church, the following options are given for the placement of the tabernacle:
It may be located either in the sanctuary, apart from the altar of celebration, in a form and place more appropriate, not excluding on an old altar no longer used for celebration; or even in some chapel suitable for the faithful’s private adoration and prayer and organically connected to the church and readily visible to the Christian faithful. General Instruction to the Roman Missal, (GIRM#315)


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Pastoral Planning

I think our area is growing, can we have a new Catholic Church built in our area?
If there is a significant growth in an area that cannot be reasonably served by a near-by parish, a group of Catholics can petition the Bishop and the matter will be reviewed by the priests currently serving that area and the Pastoral Planning Commission.  Before a final decision is made to establish a new parish, a bishop seeks the advice of the Diocesan Presbyterial Council.  However, with the current shortage in priests in our diocese and the overall economic downturn it is unlikely that we can realistically afford to finance the construction of and provide the staff to new parishes.    

What does “clustering” mean?
Generally the term “cluster” refers to two or more parishes that share a priest as pastor; typically other ministries are shared as well.

I am concerned with the shortage of priests in our diocese, why can’t women be ordained?
Pope John Paul II believes that it was determined by Christ himself that only males be ordained to the priesthood and that he, John Paul, has no power to deviate from what Jesus has determined.  The 1994 Apostolic Letter of John Paul to all bishops in the Catholic Church, “Priestly Ordination Reserved to Men Alone” (Ordinatio Sacerdotalis), is basically an appeal to tradition and the consistent understanding of the Church.    In that Apostolic Letter, Pope John Paul II referred to the response of Pope Paul VI to the debate among Anglicans concerning the ordination of women.  Paul VI had said it is inadmissible to ordain women because of the example of Christ in the Scriptures – he chose apostles from among men only.  Paul VI appealed to the constant practice of the Church and said the teaching authority of the Church has consistently held the exclusion of women from the priesthood to be in accordance with God’s plan for the Church.  However, this does not prohibit women from serving the Church in a number of other ways.  Long before women were even given the right to vote in the U.S., Catholic women were running hospitals, schools, orphanages, etc.  The Church continues to need leaders – both women and men – willing to use their time and talent for the good of others, and Catholic women are currently serving as university presidents, parish managers and in a number of other leadership positions.  

I am concerned with the shortage of priests in our diocese, if married men can be ordained deacons, why can’t they consecrate the Eucharist?  
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “Only validly ordained priests can preside at the Eucharist and consecrate the bread and the wine so that they become the Body and Blood of the Lord.

For additional information on Pastoral Planning, please visit our Pastoral Planning site below. 

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