Lay Missionary

Does anyone have any thoughts/recommendations for those who may be discerning a call as a lay missionary? The one group I came across online was Family Missions Company, which seems like a really awesome organization. But just wanted to know if anyone had any insights or perhaps even experience as a full-time lay missionary?

Thanks! God bless!


Yes, have a profession. You’d be far more useful to a mission, and to the people you would serve, if you were a teacher or a nurse or even a merchant than if you were simply an unskilled pair of hands.

It depends on what state of life you feel called to:

  • you can join the mission through a third order of a religious (missionary)order, such as sisters of charity. Making a private vow as a third order member does give you the freedom to remain open to the possibility for a (future) call to marriage
  • if you feel that you have a call to the consecrated live you can join a secular lay order that is oriented towards missionary work. There are also third orders that are not necessarily oriented towards missionary work however they do have projects in Africa, for example Focolare movement.
    You can also just contact (for example)the sisters of charity and apply for missionary work for a term of three months and based upon that experienced take further steps towards a long term project.
  • if you want to be a lay missionary without any commitment towards a religious or secular order you can contact for example Fidesco. You will have to raise your own funds tough, because they will provide you with housing, transport, local salary etc which has to be covered by your own fundraisers.

Most missionary congregations offer opportunities for seculars to work with them. Some limit the opportunities to the relatively young (Jesuit Volunteer Corps, which has both domestic and international opportunities), while others welcome older adults, families, etc. I would definitely look at the Maryknoll Missioners. They are the oldest American missionary congregations (Sisters and Priests/Brothers), but they have a marvelous formation and integration program for seculars that has been going for decades. See this, for Maryknoll “Lay” Missioners:

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