Saturday, 25 February 2017

Records - Development of Knowledge - Feb 25, 2017

Recently I worked at a parish office or presbytery office as most offices of Parishes are housed in the Presbytery  of the Parish, either under the priest's rooms or  adjacent to such.

However back to the essence of the story. I was interested in developing a working knowledge of the software which was used to record the sacramental information on persons who received sacraments in a parish. As luck would have it, after emailing my Curriculum Vitae to about four parishes, (outside of my parish) which were within an easy distance to travel, given the cost and time which would be incurred in getting to and from the parish office, I received a favourable answer from one of the parishes, not easily, but yes, I got a nod of acceptance.

During my  time there, I was exposed to several types of records such as:
  • Leases for cemetery plots,
  • Records on persons who were buried over the years in certain spots or within a family spots. Sacramental records, such as baptism and confirmation.
  • Wedding Registers - capturing sacramental and civil records and
  • Death registers going back to the early 1900's.  Some parishes have been in existence for about 150 years +
In the midst of trying to:
  1. Capture the information on software
  2. Understand the assumptions and consistently apply an approach to recording the sacraments which were administered to persons,
  3. Manage the resources allocated to the project such as:
    • Time - spent per day and over a period,
    • Cost - salary and benefits, information technology costs and operating costs such as electricity,
  4. Yet analyse and identify the possible needs which may not be obvious to us, which would be obvious to a person who has lived in the history of records or who has a different type of knowledge and experience
I had to look at different periods of time as there were/was:
  • Different persons recording the sacraments and information of the parish at different times.
  • Different needs  or requirements  to capture information, due to changes in legislation over the period of time, the knowledge of persons who administered the keeping of the records.
  • A need to link information which may not have been readily understood or which would have stood up  to scrutiny. This linking of information  may be able to be supported by representations which may need to be documented and tracked in its own manner external to the software.
This information in turn may trigger a need to amend the data which is already in the system and even amend the software. Which in turn may create the cycle all over. However given the age of persons now,  we may even be a bit late in the game, given the needs of our adults.

For example, from my personal knowledge and family history, I know that my mother has to have an affidavit as her name is the legal records do not match the name which she carries. Yet  the record bears significance to a point in time which may need understanding and which has its own needs and history, such as where she was born, where she lived when she was baptized and  where she lived prior to her getting married.  That should be something we should be able to have recorded and relied upon as a Catholic and while she is alive.

So when I discover where my mother was baptized, I would like to take in the affidavit, provide a certified copy to that office and  receive a receipt for that document knowing that the document will be retained for future checking and scrutiny and be recorded in each parish's records where a sacrament was administered.

copyright: Jennifer N Bailey

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