Our mission

Before we can even discuss any solutions we must agree on what is the Universal, non-negotiable and perennial Mission of the Catholic Church. If we cannot agree on our Mission then what is the purpose of even discussing the issue? An organization’s mission statement drives everything. If you cannot agree with what Jesus Christ said 2000 years ago, are you even Catholic? He simply said “Follow in my footsteps[1].” It could be called “Being and Making Disciples of Jesus” just as well or something else. It makes no difference. Now we can debate just what that means, but everyone who has read the Bible realizes that Jesus spent the bulk of his time preaching the Good News-“Evangelizing”. He also talked to his Father often-“Prayer” and was constantly curing sick people-“Helping Others”.

              If you just Google “The Catholic Mission” or “What is the Mission of the Church” you will find books written about Mission. These books contain wonderful and beautiful information about Mission, but we have yet to find more than one source that puts the Catholic Mission in simple actionable words. The one source is from the late Chicago Cardinal George who explained it this way in his 2010 message introducing the Archdiocese’s Strategic Plan16. It is worth repeating here and is just as applicable today as it was then. It applies to all Catholics. We doubt he invented this phrase, but we have not found its origin.

                  “The Church has one mission, one purpose and one plan entrusted to her by the Lord Jesus. (Follow in Jesus’ footsteps) The Church is to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to the whole world (Evangelism[2],[3]), to celebrate the Sacraments that make his saving mysteries available to all people until he comes again in glory (Prayer[4]), and to serve the needs of an ailing humanity in a spirit of mercy and compassion (Helping Others[5]). That is her perennial mission.”[6]  (Words in parenthesis added)

That mission and its three pillars-Evangelism, Prayer and Helping Others-is the foundation for everything the Church stands for and does. Why then is it missing from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop’s (USCCB) Strategic Plan? Same is true of all the many diocesan strategic plans we have looked at. Some would say this is such an obvious fact that why should it be necessary to state it in every strategic plan or major program description? Really? Why not? Mission drives everything else.

Matthew Kelly[7] believes there are four pillars by adding “study” as the fourth one. We believe that “study” is very important, but belongs as part of the first pillar, Evangelism.

There are probably some who would disagree with this mission statement. OK, then what do they propose in its place? We Catholics must have a single, universal and non-negotiable mission statement! What will it be?


[1] There are dozens of quotes supporting this mission statement. Here is one from Matthew 16:24 ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

[2]Jesus said Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

[3] For more background on Evangelism, Prayer and Helping Others see Pope Benedict XVI’s Deus Caritas Est and Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium

[4] Comes from fact that Jesus spent so much time praying.

[5] Comes from Jesus’ many acts of healing and otherwise helping others, especially the poor and disabled.

[6]The 2010 Archdiocese of Chicago, Strategic Pastoral Plan,

http://legacy.archchicago.org/StrategicPastoralPlan/

[7] Ibid. Matthew Kelly “Dynamic Catholic”