What does “Catholic” mean? The word “Catholic” comes from the Greek word “katholike” which can be broken down into two parts kata meaning–concerning, and holos meaning– whole; therefore, we get– “concerning the whole” or more simply translated to “universal”.
Universal is a lovely way to describe our faith, not only was it named very properly because our Church is made up of so many people from all over the world but it also reminds us that we are all a part and essential to the Church.
The word Catholic was first used to describe our faith around the year 110AD in a letter from St. Ignatius,”You must all follow the bishop as Jesus Christ follows the Father, and the presbytery as you would the Apostles. Wherever the bishop appears, let the people be there; just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church” (Epistle to the Smyrnaeans, 8).
In the early years of Christianity, the Church was exclusively made up of Jews in and around the area of Jerusalem. Today, the word Catholic has more meaning than ever before as it reaches almost every country. As the word of God has been spread by apostles, missionaries, and martyrs the Church has grown, incorporating more Jews and Gentiles, rich men and poor, many followers of many colors, cultures, and languages making our Catholic religion truly Universal.