The Laity

migrants sculpture

The Apostolate of the Laity

Laity is a term that applies to the non-ordained members of the Body of Christ. Lay women and men are those individuals at work in the world, transforming society towards the image of Christ Jesus. In fact, "lay people, too, sharing in the priestly, prophetical and kingly office of Christ, play their part in the mission of the whole people of God in the Church and in the World," according to the Second Vatican Council in Apostolicam Actuositatem (The Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity), no. 2, 1965.

The Catholic Bishops of the United States also noted that the vast majority of "lay men and women hear and answer the universal call to holiness primarily and uniquely in the secular realm." (USCCB, Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord, Part One, page 8, 2005). Within that, there are some who "cooperate with their pastors in the service of the ecclesial community" (St. Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi (On Evangelization in the Modern World), no. 73, 1975) who are called "lay ecclesial ministers."

There are also lay movements, associations, new communities, and ministries of lay women and men towards various elements of the mission of the Church. Together, they make up the People of God and the great apostolate of the laity.

Church Teaching on the Roles & Responsibilities of Laity

Ecclesial Movements, Organizations, and Professional Associations

Lay Ecclesial Ministry 

Past USCCB Projects and Initiatives

Continuing Formation