In 2011, the Chancellor of Spiritual Affairs approved the Sacramental Records Policy & Procedures Manual and copies were distributed to all our parishes.
Please send us an email to request an additional copy. Electronic copies are also available through the Archdiocese of Toronto intranet.
The Government of Ontario holds and issues the certificate of marriage in this province. Although our tradition is to call the document given at the church a “marriage certificate” it is vital to understand and pass on to our clients that the church document is not the official government or civil record of their marriage.
If someone is requesting a baptism, marriage or death record from the parish for a civil purpose, like a pension application, they should obtain the civil birth, marriage or death certificate. The government wants the government record and the church records of these events are not considered civil legal documents. In some instances a pension application has been delayed because someone submitted church documents instead of the civil birth or marriage records.
If someone is requesting sacramental records for a church purpose, like marriage, annulment of a Catholic marriage, enrolment of children in Catholic school, etc. then the church records are the appropriate records.
Our general policy is that if the requested record is for a person who is over 18 years old, they should be the one requesting a copy of their sacramental record. Although parents often call for adult children, and engaged couples on behalf of their fiancés, a reissued certificate and the information it contains should only be released to the person named in the record. Sacramental records contain confidential and personal information and should be treated with the same respect as government records that are subject to privacy legislation under provincial and federal law.
The parish should ask for the legal documents pertaining to the child (i.e., Ontario Birth Certificate, birth certificate from another country, Canadian Citizenship card). The legal name of the child should match the name that will be entered in the baptism register.
The legal name needs to match the name in baptism record so that if the child requires their baptism record later in life to correct an error in the civil record or even to simply request a copy, we will be able to help prove an error occurred and/or release information.
Absolutely. Parishes should be asking to see baptism certificates before a child receives First Communion or Confirmation. Even if they are enrolled in Catholic school this is no guarantee that the child is a baptized Catholic, it simply means that one of their parents was baptized Catholic. If the family is refusing to provide a Baptism certificate, contact the Office of Spiritual Affairs, which is the proper arbiter in these cases.
Yes, we should ensure that if we fax a copy of a certificate to a school or another parish to speed up an application process that the hard copy original is sent by regular mail as well. The other office will need the original with the parish seal on it to prove that they received a valid certificate.
A sanation is the blessing of a previously existing civil marriage without the renewal of consent that happens at a convalidation. The applicable Canons are 1161 through 1165. A radical sanation is usually sought in cases where a non-Catholic spouse does not understand why their marriage is considered invalid and does not want another marriage ceremony. The sanation can be granted without the knowledge of the non-Catholic spouse so that the Catholic can have the marriage blessed and go back to practicing their faith.
A mixed rite marriage is one between a Roman or Latin Catholic and a Catholic of another rite that is in communion with Rome, for example Ukrainian Catholic. This is not to be confused with a mixed marriage, which is one between a baptized Christian and a Catholic.
The main differences between a factual error and a technical/incidental error are who points it out and the amount of time that has elapsed since the entry was made. If the parish secretary realizes that she switched a middle and first name just after making an entry, she is looking at the baptismal information form and can go ahead and make the change. If someone who was baptized 20 years ago says their name is Mary Smith instead of Maria Smyth, then you would ask for a birth certificate or change of name certificate in order to make the change.
Can family historians have access to the old parish registers?
No. These books are often old and fragile and too much handling can cause irreversible damage. Your registers have been microfilmed to facilitate access to genealogists. Refer them to this website for digital copies of records up to 1910. For all other inquiries, ask family historians to contact us.
If your registers need major repair, they can be rebound. Contact us for a list of local Preservation Bookbinders.
If the bindings need minor repair to the outside, or you need tape to hold labels onto the spines, please use library quality tape. Do not use any tape on the inside pages.
To purchase library quality tape, contact Carr McLean, a Toronto-based company. We recommend CARMAC® Super-Clear Tape.
Canon 535/1 states that the “pastor is to see to it that these registers are accurately inscribed and carefully preserved.” Sacramental records are considered permanent. At this time, there is no cost-effective, reliable way to keep electronic records forever. Hardware and software are constantly being upgraded, and digital information can actually degrade over time. Also, if a disaster occurs, the original handwritten registers are far more likely to survive than electronic records. For example, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana our counterparts in the South had a lot of salvage and recovery work to do on their sacramental records. The registers that were written in with a regular ballpoint pen with fade resistant indelible ink were still readable after being cleaned and dried. Other types of ink were washed away. If you wanted to salvage a damaged hard drive, CD or flash drive, it would be expensive, and your chances of success would be low.