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Why Every Catholic Should Know the Meaning of Ministry

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The word ministry – what comes to mind when you read it?

When my sister read it on our directory, she automatically thought of non-Catholic Christians.

That conversation led me to start asking questions and doing some research.

First I asked some awesome social media influencers:

“What is a Catholic ministry?”

Here are some of the descriptions I received:

“Any organization whose primary goal is some sort of evangelization or service. It’s implied that it’s something that’s nonprofit or unpaid, but I think for-profits can be ministries if they meet that goal.”

– Emily Ricci, Founder and President of Gloriam Marketing

“It’s a method of evangelization or outreach rooted in Catholic teaching”

– Tim Lucchesi, Founder of

“I think it’s anything an individual Catholic or group of Catholics is called to do that flows from their faith and is a witness of that faith to others.” Leslie continued, “for me the ministry aspect was kind of accidental. I was already blogging when I realized blogging could be a ministry due to a statement from the USCCB.”

– Leslie Sholly, Life in Every Limb

“For me it is showing the love and passion for the Catholic faith.”

– J.M. Kraemer, The Lego Church Project

“The work of contributing to evangelization and discipleship…its leading people to heaven the Catholic way.”

John N Kinuthia

“Anything a Catholic does!”

– Desiree Hausam, The Green Catholic Burrow

After asking my colleagues, I brought the question to a wider audience (in our Facebook group:Catholic Talk and Inspiration

It was there that someone suggested if we are really going to examine the word ministry, that it refers to the work of a priest and the vocation given in the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

They said if a lay person or lay people run an organization who’s primary goal is to spread the Gospel, this is called an “apostolate.”

So that threw me for a loop!

Were we all using this word wrong?  Or, has the word evolved through usage and grown to mean more than one thing?

We began to do some digging.

Ministry and Apostolate: What’s the Difference?

In the book, Modern Catholic Dictionary written by John  A. Hardon, S.J., Fr. Hardon defines ministry as “authorized service of God in the service of others, according to specified norms revealed by Christ and determined by the Church.”

The definition continues to explain:

In Catholic usage the various forms of ministry include these features:

  1. service of God, who is glorified by the loving service given to others
  2. authorization by the Church’s hierarchy . . . this authorization may require ordination . . .
  3. based on the teaching of Christ, who showed by word and example how to minister to people’s spiritual and temporal needs;
  4. under the guidance of the Church in accordance with her directives and decrees.”

Hardon’s description helps us to see that our use of the word has allowed the definition of ministry to extend into the work of religious as well as lay Catholics.

Furthermore, the Catechism of the Catholic Church makes a distinction between lay ministry and ordained ministry:

“[I]n the Church there is diversity of ministry but unity of mission. To the apostles and their successors Christ has entrusted the office of teaching, sanctifying, and governing in his name and by his power. But the laity are made to share in the priestly, prophetical, and kingly office of Christ; they have therefore, in the Church and in the world, their own assignment in the mission of the whole People of God.”

– (CCC, 873)

So what, then is an apostolate?

“Indeed, we call an apostolate ‘every activity of the Mystical Body; that aims to spread the Kingdom of God over all the earth.'”

– (CCC, 863)

The word apostolate comes from the word apostolic, meaning that the Church, through the succession of and following in the example of the apostles, is sent out into the world to spread the Gospel.

In the Catechism, distinctions are made between the priestly apostolate, and the lay apostolate, just as distinctions are made between ordained and lay ministry.

So the two concepts are very closely related!

How do You Know if You are Being Called to Run a Catholic Ministry?

Know that God created you on purpose and for a purpose.

Your actions, thoughts and words matter.  How different would our world be if we looked at everything as ministry?

In Scripture we read:

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

An awesome article written by Michael Ruszala titled “10 Points for Effective Parish Ministry” suggests that we see everything as ministry!

The aim of ministry is building up the Body of Christ and the power of ministry is God’s grace . .

Church meetings can start with prayer, even if they aren’t directly about the faith. A groundskeeping committee could begin with a prayer about God’s creation, for example. “God bless you,” or similar words, should be on our lips even in conversations or phone calls that aren’t specifically religious.

Very recently the Catholic speaker Kathryn Whitaker shared the following thought on ministry on her Instagram account:

“You know what I love? The ministry of the unexpected note (or…text, as it were). Long ago a priest once reminded me that it’s a ministry, and a mighty important one, to let others know you’re thinking about them just because.”

What is really amazing and truly inspiring is how many ways this can be done.

Catholic Ministries That Will Inspire You

Julia Miller, owner and creator of, ministers to people by creating Living Rosaries.  Made entirely out of fresh whole roses, these rosaries are created carefully and prayerfully by hand!

Jessica Dixon, owner and designer at Come Holy Spirit Rosaries explains that her business has grown into a ministry; her answer to the call for the New Evangelization.

Others answer their call to ministry through writing.  For example, Emily Frase wants to let others know they are not alone! As Emily states on her about page over at Total Whine:

I want you to know that you’re not alone. No, you aren’t the only one who is called to joy but can find yourself bogged down in sorrow. No, you aren’t the only one living and loving the faith and being mocked for it. No, you aren’t the only one trying to weed through what the world says you should be versus what God has called you to. No, you aren’t the only one.

And Taryn Oesch, founder of EverydayRoses, writes and speaks about women’s issues and disability inclusion in the workplace.

Still others are very intentional and formally establish ministries, like Kristin Bird of Burning Hearts Disciples, a ministry Inspiring and Equipping a Culture of Intentional Discipleship.

Kristin Bird is a national Catholic speaker. Her gift of teaching and passion for the faith enable her to craft dynamic talks and retreat experiences that demonstrate how Scripture and Tradition are relevant to our daily lives.

One of our influencers does ministry work through a candle company!

Another member’s ministry is selling Saint Socks!!

Some of our members combine speaking with writing, like Ginny Lieto.

Whether you are single, newly engaged, just married, celebrating a decade or more married or coping with separation or divorce . . . there are ministries available to serve you on our directory!

There is even a ministry for Catholics attending non-Catholic colleges!

Let Us Help You Grow Your Catholic Ministry!

If you think you have a mission to share with the world, and you have a website or social media page dedicated to that mission – we’d love to help you grow!

Fill out an application here: Become a member of

If you sign up before August 15, 2019 and enter my name as the person who referred you (Amy Brooks); I will send you a $5.00 rebate!

Yes, get $5 back if you register before August 15th!  (You must use my name as the person who referred you). This offer ends August 15, 2019!

Want to know what other platforms are serving as ministries?

Check out our directory!

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