The word “church” means convocation or an assembly. It designates the assemblies of a people, usually for a religious purpose.
In Christian usage, the word "church" has multiple meanings. It not only designates the liturgical assembly, but also the local community or the whole universal community of believers.
These meanings are inter-connected. "The Church" is the People that God gathers in the whole world and it exists in local communities and is made real as a liturgical, above all a Eucharistic, assembly.
It describes that place where the Light of Christ shines out visibly. In the liturgical assembly we are gathered together by the Word of God and the Sacraments to form the People of God. This people, nourished by the Word, and by the Body of Christ in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, themselves become the Body of Christ. This unity is expressed both on the local and universal level.
The Church is the visible plan of God's love for humanity, because God desires that the whole human race may become one People of God, form one Body of Christ, and be built up into one temple of the Holy Spirit.
Who Founded the Catholic Church?
The Church was prepared for in the Old Testament, founded by the words and actions of Jesus Christ, established by His Saving Cross and His Resurrection, and revealed as the Mystery of Salvation by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. She will come to completion in the glory of heaven as the assembly of all the redeemed.
The Church is born primarily of Christ's total self-giving for our salvation, anticipated in the institution of the Eucharist and fulfilled on the cross. "The origin and growth of the Church are symbolized by the blood and water which flowed from the open side of the crucified Jesus."
What is the hierarchy of the Church?
The Church is a hierarchical communion. Its members consist of laity, clergy and religious. The lay faithful (laity) are those who have become members of the Church through baptism. From among these, by divine institution, men are chosen to serve as bishops, priests and deacons (clergy). There are also those who profess the evangelical counsels, and are consecrated to God in a special way (religious).
The very differences which the Lord has willed to put between the members of his body serve its unity and mission. For in the Church there is diversity of ministry but unity of mission. To the apostles and their successors Christ has entrusted the office of teaching, sanctifying and governing in his name and by his power.
But the laity are made to share in the priestly, prophetical, and kingly office of Christ; they have therefore, in the Church and in the world, their own assignment in the mission of the whole People of God.
What Can the Catholic Church Offer Me?
The Church in this world is the sacrament of salvation. She is the sign and instrument of the communion of God with His people. It is the Church that believes first, and so bears, nourishes and sustains my faith.
Salvation comes from God alone; but because we receive the life of faith through the Church, she is our mother: Because she is our mother, she is also our teacher in the faith.
We become a member of the Church through faith and Baptism. All are invited to come forward to become Catholics.
This information is based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Nos. 751-933.