The history of the Church is a vast and deeply profound journey through more than 2000 years. Beginning with the disciples huddled in the Upper Room and being birthed at Pentecost, the Church has grown from small communities meeting in houses scattered around the Mediterranean to over one billion Catholics worldwide.
Pope Francis leads more than one billion Catholics around the world and guides them as the church’s chief shepherd. Roman Catholic popes are successors of St. Peter the first pope. For nearly 2000 years, the church has been electing popes to lead the worldwide church.
The Church is a worldwide institution organized into local churches committed to bringing God’s love and the Gospel message to into the world and building up the kingdom of God. The local or diocesan church is guided by a bishop who is appointed by the pope. Bishops are the chief shepherds of the diocesan church and pastor all the faithful in the diocese. Priests are an extension of the bishop’s ministry to serve the faithful and proclaim the Gospel message. The faithful also are called by their baptisms to serve their neighbors and share the Gospel message in word and deed in their daily lives.
The church of the 21st century finds itself firmly standing on the shoulders of church teachings that have withstood the test of time and culture and continue to be a beacon of hope in a sometimes dark world. In the middle of the 20th century, the church once again examined itself and refreshed itself through the Second Vatican Council. The documents from the council are meant to bring the church into the modern age. It was a time of ‘opening the windows’ and getting back to basics of Christian life and evangelization.
Today the Church continues to spread and proclaim the Gospel message often in hostile environments and to hearts in need.The Church grounds itself in this history which spans more than two millenia. From its very beginning in the early first century when Jesus said to Peter: “Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church,” the Catholic Church began to bring the Gospel message in word and deed to the far reaches of the earth.