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With more than 2,500 volunteers and only 125 staff members, volunteers help Catholic Charities serve more people in the Diocese of Arlington. Sally O’Dwyer, Director of Volunteers, shares a reflection on our role as laity and God’s specific call for us to serve.


In the Office of Volunteers here at Catholic Charities, we meet amazing people who are answering God’s call to serve.  We see, on a daily basis, how our volunteers dedicate themselves to rolling up their sleeves, working alongside staff to Love Thy Neighbor. We are witnesses to the Church’s call for the laity to take up their vocation to go out into the world and spread the Gospel.

Our role as Lay members of the Church is beautifully explained in the Vatican II Decree: The Apostolate of the Laity.  The Decree states that our vocation is derived from our Baptism and later strengthened in our Confirmation.   Christ conferred on the Apostles and their successors the duty of teaching, sanctifying, and ruling in His name and power.  The Laity, since we live in the midst of the world and all of its problems, are “called by God to exercise their apostolate in the world like leaven, with the ardor and spirit of Christ.”

(An ‘apostolate’ is a) a group of religious leaders or b) religious or evangelistic activity or works e.g. “our apostolate of hospitality to the elderly”)

We engage in our apostolate through the faith, hope and charity provided to us by the Holy Spirit.  To serve, we must discern what the Holy Spirit is calling us to do. We must pray and listen.  While we all are different, with gifts, talents, circumstances and histories, we share in a  oneness of mission.  The Decree reminds us that our success in our role as lay apostolates depends upon our living union with Christ and that we work within the community of the Church.

Here at Catholic Charities, we engage volunteers in every aspect of our work of serving those in need.  Our volunteers serve on the front line, providing hope, love and charity to those who are suffering.  Anyone interested in learning more about how they might live out their Call are most welcome to contact us.  We would be happy to discuss the many, many ways volunteers serve!


If you are interested in volunteering, please visit our volunteer website to sign up today! We have opportunities for all schedules and interests in locations across the diocese. We depend on our volunteers to help us serve the poor in the Diocese of Arlington. If you can’t volunteer, please consider making a financial donation or an in-kind gift. Visit or call 703-841-3830 for more information.