This chapter offers an insider look at how bishops make decisions to establish personal parishes, or not. No formal policy exists to regulate when and why bishops choose to start personal parishes, resulting in a high level of local discretion. Both top-down and grassroots sources influence personal parish outcomes. From the top, documents out of the Vatican and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops introduce personal parishes as one option among others. Interviews with bishops reveal key criteria they identify as prerequisites for personal parish establishment. From below, local Catholics mobilize, petition, and fundraise to convey parish need. Personal parish outcomes reveal that bishops assess an interlocking parish landscape and subjective considerations of lay need. Institutional authorities circumscribe lay preferences for local religious organization.
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