Policy on Sacramental Records

Sacramental records are of a mixed nature: private and public. They are private in that they are intended to document an individual's status within the Church. They were originally created in circumstances presumed to be private and confidential. Sacramental records are public in that they will stand in civil law as valid and authentic evidence when an appropriate civil record does not exist.

It is important to understand that although these records are public in that they stand in civil law; they are not public in the sense that they are open to immediate examination and inspection by anyone for whatever reason. For example, civil records of birth are public records restricted from use for long periods of time. It is the same with the sacramental records of the Church. Restrictions on access may therefore be legitimately imposed without violating the essential private and public nature of the records.

Access to sacramental records is affected by the passage of time. More recent records generally require greater restrictions on access than older records. As current events become historical events, the need for withholding them from use is reduced and in some cases may eventually disappear. Therefore broader access may be allowed to older records than to more recent ones.

Sacramental records are closed to the general public after 1930. This policy is based on Federal Census Guidelines and is consistent with the recommendations of the Association of Catholic Diocesan Archivists. You may place a request for copies—visit the Sacramental Records for more details—of records before 1931 for genealogical purposes by completing the Archive Sacramental Request Form (PDF).

We advise that basic information is requested at least two months before it is needed and extensive information at least 6 months before it is needed. Due to other priorities and surrounding responsibilities, we cannot commit to results before this timeline.