Vincent Pallotti [1795-1850], the founder of Union of Catholic Apostolate, lived in a time when the society was rocked with revolution, bloodshed and uncertainties. Political greed of the kings and social and economical discontent among the people lead to the emergence of revolutionary groups in many countries, prominent among them was the French Revolution. The French Revolution spread throughout Europe and Italy was no exception. The French Revolution changed the world by means of violence, war, invasion, reasoning and occupation. Even Rome, the capital of Papal States was not spared. The faith of the people was declining. The functioning of the Church was strictly hierarchical and the people had no say in her activities. They were mere spectators in relation to the participation in the Church. Their functions were to pray, pay and obey. He also witnessed the cholera epidemic in 1837. At this backdrop of religious and social milieu that Pallotti lived and propounded his vision of participatory Church. He was convinced that the Church's missionary task of proclamation of faith throughout the world is an urgent need and it was enormously vast. Therefore he ventured looking for new possibility to spread the faith.
9th of January 1835 was the turning point in the life of Vincent Pallotti. He celebrated the Holy Eucharist in thanksgiving with extraordinary holiness. The light of the Holy Spirit illumined the mind of Pallotti to institute a Society. He wrote in his diary:
My God my mercy, You in Your infinite mercy grant me in a special way to promote, to establish, to perfect and perpetuate, at least with trust in Your Sacred Heart, the following undertaking: A Holy institution of the Universal Apostolate among all Catholics, to propagate the faith and the religion of Jesus Christ among all unbelievers and those not Catholics; another hidden Apostolate, to revive, to preserve and to increase the faith amongst Catholics; an institution of Universal Love in the exercise of all the works of spiritual and corporal mercy, so that as much as possible, you are known in the world, since you are infinite love.
Pallotti received this vision of reviving the universal call of every baptized person to collaborate in the Salvific Mission of the Church. Indeed, he was convinced that all the members of the people of God are called to share in the apostolate. For this reason he coordinated all the baptized people of God, irrespective of their state of life and condition. His ardent desire was to awaken, foster and convince every baptized person of his or her baptismal vocation to cooperate in the mission of the Church. He wanted to make all Christians in whatever state they are in, from being passive to active apostles to work in the vineyard of the Lord. He brought together the priests, religious and laity in one single union. This was his unique contribution. This idea of collaborative participatory Church was new during his time. Because of this inspiring vision there was misunderstanding and hostility towards him from the hierarchy. However, in May 1835 he appealed to all in Rome with a sense of zeal for the glory of God to cooperate with his ideal. Pallotti coordinated the priests, religious and laity to walk hand in hand for the realization of the apostolic mission of the Church in the world. Thus he established his newly founded society as The Union of the Catholic Apostolate. The Union - Coming together of persons, "communion of faithful"; of - for accomplishing; Catholic - wide-ranging and varied, Pallotti calls it as "universal", i.e., "with all"; and Apostolate - tasks, brothers and sisters working together to continue the Mission of Jesus and for the salvation of one another.