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The Religiously Unaffiliated

As the first step of evangelization we must seek to keep [the quest for God] alive; we must be concerned that human beings do not set aside the question of God, but rather see it as an essential question for their lives. We must make sure that they are open to this question and to the yearning concealed within it.”   -Pope Benedict XVI, December 2009

The key to keeping the question of God alive in the public square is that each of us let it be known that we are Catholic and then live a life that bears witness to the goodness of this fact.  The Catholic must radiate in the public square the fundamental human values:  respect for and attention to the person, mercy, sacrifice, generosity, love, joy, etc… This alone will do more than any elegant argument in favor of God’s existence. Then, and only then, is it possible to also engage others in the question of God’s existence and his relevance to daily life and life as a whole.

Remember that, as Vatican II reminded us, it belongs particularly to the laity to bring Christ to the secular sphere.  Our homes, workplaces, schools, neighborhoods and relationships are, in a sense, the mission field of the laity – our particular domain. 


The ministries below offer a model of evangelization that seeks to engage inactive Catholics and those who claim no religious affiliation (the “nones”). 

Parish-Based Outreach and Trainings
Start by visiting our page on parish-based evangelization ministries, which are designed to reach active Catholics, inactive Catholics and the religiously unaffiliated:

Saint Paul Street Evangelization
This Catholic program trains groups to “hit the streets”, bringing Christ to the world through sidewalk evangelization.

Magis Center of Reason and Faith
Founded by Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J., their mission is to explore and share the close connection between reason and faith as revealed by new discoveries in physics and philosophy.  Visit the Magis Center’s free online encyclopedia on questions of reason, faith, science and the reasonableness of Jesus.

Courtyard of the Gentiles
Pope Benedict asked the Church to consider opening a “Courtyard of the Gentiles” to make space for people to begin asking the fundamental questions about God’s existence.  Learn what it is and then consider how your parish can live it!

Tips & Ideas

Public Witnesses of Faith Guidebook
Tips and ideas for keeping the question of God alive in the
public square.

Below are some simple ways to keep the question of God alive in the public arena:

  • In the workplace, keep on your desk a holy card, Crucifix, or small statue that gives witness to your Catholic faith.  Be prepared to answer questions about what you believe and why the image is on your desk.
  • When family or friends ask “How was your weekend?”, be sure to include in your response that you went to Mass on Sunday and possibly throw in a remark about how something in the homily helped you, or how praying at Mass helps you get ready for the week ahead.
  • In conversations, be forthright about your involvement in Church activities, groups, etc…
  • Tell people you are praying for them, or for a particular intention they have.
  • Share stories about how your faith has directly impacted your life, decision-making, etc…
  • Help people consider the deeper meaning behind the things that are happening in their lives.  Gently ask questions like, “How do you think God is leading you in this situation?”, “Do you have a sense of why God allowed that to happen?”, “Have you prayed about it?”, etc…
  • Help people see and understand God’s action in their lives by offering feedback like, “Wow, God really took care of you!”, “Sounds like God put you in the right place at the right time.”, “Seems like God definitely has a plan for you.”, etc…
  • Help dispel common misunderstandings about the Catholic faith, for example, the myth that faith and science are incompatible.  Be well-informed about the Church’s teachings on faith and reason and the Church’s tremendous contributions to science throughout her 2000-year history.  Challenge comments that suggest that faith is irrational, for the uneducated or gullible, or closed to science.