Being a Catholic

Catholics are members of a worldwide family of local churches all of which are united to each other in living faith by their visible communion with the Bishop of Rome, the Pope.

Individual Catholics are united with each other in a parish community gathered around the priest who serves them as the living sacramental sign of Jesus the Shepherd. Parishes in an area are united with a diocese gathered around a bishop who carries on the pastoral mission of the Apostles. The dioceses of the world are united with each other by their common bond with the Pope as the visible centre of communion. These simple structures are there to serve the most important unity of all: our real living communion with the Risen Jesus who is powerfully present among as Our Lord and Shepherd, our Teacher and our great High Priest. Everything in the Catholic Church is designed to help us grow closer to Jesus and to share his life and work.

It is above all our weekly Sunday celebration of the Mass, the Eucharist, that this unity with each other in Christ is most powerfully shown and strengthened. Going to Mass has always been a key sign of a committed Catholic from the first Christians who met in their houses for the breaking of bread, to Catholics who risked their lives by celebrating Mass during time of persecution, to those Catholics today who make a conscious choice to take an active part in the life and worship of the Church. There have always been people who have opted out but taking part in the Mass, above all on Sundays, has always been seen as central and crucial for living fully the Catholic faith. It is the heart of the Catholic identity. Living the Mass, allowing the Lord's presence to transform and direct our lives is what being a Catholic is all about.