1. The Need
    College campuses are battlegrounds for the minds and souls of our young people, and many are leaving the Church.Nearly 80% of cradle Catholics are no longer Catholic by the time they graduate college. Students are hungry for truth and meaning but most are not being reached effectively.
  2. The Response
    Saint Paul’s Outreach (SPO) reaches these students around the country, bringing them back to Christ and the fullness of the Catholic faith. We build evangelistic communities that provide a unique quality and depth of formation in the Catholic faith and life.
  3. The Result
    Our ministry has produced thousands of alumni who are passionate followers of Christ and who continue to shine His light in the world long after they have graduated. They are renewing the Church and evangelizing the culture.

SPO is a nonprofit corporation with 501(c)(3) status, governed by a Board of Directors under the ecclesiastical vigilance of the Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis.


To build Catholic communities that awaken faith on campus and form life-long disciples.


  1. Renewed Catholicism
    We advance the renewal of authentic Catholic life on college campuses, rooted in Sacred Scripture and Tradition, faithful to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, and confident in the help of the Holy Spirit.
  2. The New Evangelization
    We follow the example of Saint Paul the Apostle by proclaiming the Gospel so that all might come to faith and maturity in Christ.
  3. Life-Changing Communities
    We create transformative environments to challenge and equip college students to live out the call to holiness in their daily lives.
  4. Servant Leadership
    We identify and form the next generation of lay and religious leaders for our Church, our communities, and our world.
  5. Christian Unity
    We are committed to the unity of the Church, and collaborate with other Catholic and Christian organizations.


SPO began in 1985 at the Catholic Youth Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, founded by Gordy DeMarais, who remains the Executive Director today. As SPO grew, word about its success began to spread to other parts of the country and the demand led to the development of Mission Centers outside of Minnesota.

We currently have Mission Centers in seven states: MinnesotaOhioNew JerseyKansasTexasArizona, and Florida. These Mission Centers have Chapters on various kinds of local campuses: public and private, colleges and universities, religious and non-religious. Our National Headquarters, which oversees and supports the Mission Centers, is located in Minnesota.


We want as many college students as possible to encounter Christ, so our vision is to continue to expand our impact nationwide. To that end, our goal is to have 30 Mission Centers across the U.S., based in metropolitan areas. Each of them will have Chapters on various local campuses, including all major universities in the country.


Our mission is a response to the Church’s call for a “New Evangelization”. Evangelization – the spreading of the good news of Jesus Christ – has always been the “deepest identity” of the Church. Indeed, “she exists in order to evangelize”, so that all might come to faith and salvation in Christ (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 14).

Our recent popes have recognized that the reality of today’s post-Christian culture necessitates that the Church actively embrace her evangelistic identity with renewed urgency. So, they have called for a great re-launching of evangelization in the life of the Church, for a New Evangelization.

“What moves me strongly to proclaim the urgency of missionary evangelization is the fact that it is the primary service which the Church can render to every individual and to all humanity in the modern world, a world which has experienced marvelous achievements but which seems to have lost its sense of ultimate realities and of existence itself… I sense that the moment has come to commit all of the Church’s energies to a New Evangelization… No believer in Christ, no institution of the Church can avoid this supreme duty: to proclaim Christ to all peoples.” — Saint John Paul II

“The task of evangelizing all people constitutes the essential mission of the Church, a duty and a mission which the widespread and profound changes in present-day society render ever more urgent. At stake is the eternal salvation of persons, the goal and fulfillment of human history and the universe.” — Pope Benedict XVI

“Evangelization is the mission of the Church, not just of a few, but my, your, our mission… Let us feel within us the delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing. Because evangelizing, announcing Jesus, brings us joy!” — Pope Francis


There are many excellent programs that contribute to our unique effectiveness. They all fit within a model that is dependent on two key ideas:

  1. Our mission is grounded in a deep faith witnessed to and lived in community .
  2. Our strategy entails a comprehensive process of outreach, conversion, faith formation, and mobilization in mission and leadership.

This comprehensive process that is lived out in the context of community life produces a unique quality and depth of formation in the Catholic faith and life. The result is thousands of alumni who are passionate followers of Christ and who continue to shine his light in the world long after they have graduated. They are renewing the Church and evangelizing the culture.


We have a wide array of programs that facilitate our evangelization strategy. However, there are four particular ones that are at the core of what we do.   

fanintoflame.pngEvery year hundreds of lives across the nation are transformed through SPO’s Fan into Flame retreats. They provide college students and young professionals with the chance to choose Jesus Christ as Lord and to live more fully in the power of his Holy Spirit.

“I would not be a priest, longing to be a saint, or even believing it was possible, had I not encountered SPO. I hadn’t thought of being a priest as a youth, but when I encountered the presence of the Holy Spirit through SPO, that entire world opened up to me and I began to imagine such a life.” — Fr. Michael Becker, SPO Alumnus

household.pngSPO Households equip young Catholics to live out the call to holiness in their daily lives. Living the Household way of life fosters growth in selfless love and service through daily personal prayer, regular meals, weekly chores, and evangelistic outreach. Because this formation in Christian living and mission is learned day in and day out, the components of this new way of life in Christ become habits that last a lifetime.

“To evangelize means… to teach the art of living.” — Pope Benedict XVI

formation program.pngThe Formation in Christian Living Program augments the Household program, forming young people into mature men and women trained in the Catholic faith and life. This vital work for the Church is accomplished through weekly teaching, pastoral mentoring, and accountability groups. These three pillars of the program provide an incredibly strong foundation in the Catholic faith.

“One of the greatest gifts that SPO gives is formation. It’s essential. If anyone, for example, is going to live a Catholic marriage and pass on the faith to their children, they need mature formation, and SPO is providing that.” — Bishop Andrew Cozzens, SPO Alumnus

sne.pngEach summer, SPO mobilizes college students and Catholic ministry leaders from across the U.S. through the School of the New Evangelization (SNE). Participants receive some of the best SPO has to offer: dynamic orthodox teaching, powerful prayer, and rich community living. As a result, each year SNE sends out hundreds of young people to bring Catholic faith to life on campus.

“The best instrument to evangelize young people is other young people.” — Pope Francis


  1. Missionaries
    We carry out our evangelization strategy by recruiting and training young people to be Missionaries on college campuses. Some are recent graduates who serve full-time. Others are part-time student volunteers.
  2. Chapters
    We establish Chapters on college campuses led by our Missionaries. At the heart of an SPO Chapter is an evangelistic community of students and staff that reaches, calls, forms, and sends young people to be life-long disciples and leaders in the New Evangelization. The life of a Chapter is based on Christ-centered relationships and a structured pattern of frequent events and activities including those outlined above.
  3. Mission Centers
    Chapters are run by Mission Centers. These are geographic operational hubs that are named after the state in which they are headquartered: currently MinnesotaOhioNew JerseyKansasTexasArizona, and Florida. Their primary purpose is to establish and run Chapters on local campuses.
  4. National Headquarters
    Mission Centers are supervised and supported by the National Headquarters in West St. Paul, Minnesota.

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