Guidelines for Non-Parish Use of Parish Premises and GatherGuard
Many pastors allow non-parish groups to utilize space in parish buildings, either as a source of revenue for the parish or as a way to aid outside organizations that lack meeting space. Examples include groups that meet regularly, such as boy scouts or rotary clubs, and one-time events, such as wedding receptions or birthday parties. The Office of Risk Management encourages pastors and parish councils to be innovative with the space provided in a parish. However, in order to ensure the safety of the groups involved and to protect the parish from liability, there are certain steps a pastor should take when allowing non-parish groups to use parish premises. The pastor should obtain the following from the group:
- A Certificate of Insurance naming your parish and the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Boston, a Corporation Sole, as an additional insured for the scheduled event. The certificate must show evidence that the group has General Liability Insurance that protects the parish and RCAB should anything happen during their use of the premises. A limit of $1 million should be the minimum; however, $2 million is recommended.
- Alternatively, if the group does NOT maintain their own insurance, the group must purchase Special Events coverage through our GatherGuard Program.
Purchasing Insurance Through GatherGuard
To purchase special event coverage, advise the group to do the following:
Use of Alcohol
If an outside group wishes to serve alcohol at a non-parish event, they may do so under the following conditions:
- They must provide the parish with evidence of Host Liquor Liability coverage.
- The use of a licensed caterer or bartender is preferred. If a licensed caterer or bartender is used, the caterer or bartender must provide the parish with evidence of their Host Liquor Liability coverage.
- Where liquor or tickets will be sold, a city or town may require the group to obtain a license. If so, the group is responsible for obtaining the license according to local regulations.
Parishes need to be concerned about alcohol consumption by minors and with ensuring that people who are intoxicated are no longer allowed to drink alcoholic beverages. Therefore, it is important that the organizers of the event in which alcohol is served follow these guidelines:
- Alcohol should never be served to an individual under the legal drinking age. Identification should be checked for anyone who appears to be under the age of 30.
- An individual should only be allowed to order or obtain one drink at a time. This will assist in deterring someone from becoming intoxicated too rapidly and will deter someone from providing a drink to a minor.
- A pre-existing plan should be in place to handle individuals who have had too much to drink.
The Office of Risk Management has drafted a sample letter that a pastor may use to inform non-parish groups of the above requirements: Sample Letter From Pastor – Parish Use
Please note that parish facilities should not be used for political purposes, such as fundraisers for a candidate to political office. To do so would put your religious tax-exempt status at risk. In addition, the general goals and objectives of the group using the facilities should be consistent with the values and mission of the Catholic Church.
If you have any questions related to appropriate uses of parish premises, or about any of the recommendations outlined above, please contact the Office of Risk Management.