Join Us

Are you being called to serve God and the world

with the Columban missionaries?

Founded as a society of priests, Columban mission today is a partnership of priests, sisters and lay people. Some are called to commit their whole lives as a Columban priest or sister, while others feel called to make a shorter-term commitment as lay missionaries, co-workers and volunteers.

Here you can find out more about the opportunities available for participating in Columban mission to help you discern how God is calling you to be a ‘missionary disciple’ of Jesus Christ.

You are welcome to contact us for more information and we will listen carefully to your questions.

As a Priest

Columban missionary priests integrate ordained ministry within the Christian community with outreach beyond the boundaries of the Church. They are committed to a life of Christian discipleship, prayer and service of others.


To enable the Church to live as a community of disciples of Jesus Christ and to witness to his Good News in our world, the Spirit endows it with a variety of gifts and ministries.

Our Columban gift within the Church is to help it to keep in mind its missionary call, reaching out beyond itself with the message of Jesus. We proclaim the universal message of Jesus through witness, ministry and dialogue from the standpoint of solidarity with the poor.

Columban missionary priests integrate ordained ministry within the Christian community with outreach beyond the boundaries of the Church.

Sadly we are unable to recruit from countries where we do not have a viable Columban missionary presence, for instance we do not have a presence on the continent of Africa, the European Mainland and some countries in Latin America with the exception of Peru and Chile.

In inviting people to be Columban missionary priests, we seek single young Catholic men who:

  • desire and feel called to give their life to Christian mission
  • have resident status in Britain
  • are at least 22 and under 30 years of age
  • enjoy good physical and mental health
  • have completed at least secondary education
  • are willing and able to give themselves to ongoing learning and formation
  • are committed to a life of Christian discipleship, prayer and service of others

Through the various stages of formation the candidate is facilitated in the ongoing discernment of his call, becomes more deeply inserted into the ongoing Columban story, and is prepared for a life of service as a missionary priest. Much of the formation takes place overseas, so that candidates can have a sustained experience of cross-cultural living and have regular engagement in cross-cultural ministry.

Period of Accompaniment

This is a time of deeper enquiry and reflection when the interested person has an opportunity to meet regularly with Columbans in Britain with a view to getting to know one another better. One is helped to clarify one’s personal calling and explore the Columban vocation. Further on in the discernment process, vocational assessment is undertaken by qualified professionals who will help identify one’s physical and psychological suitability for the challenges of missionary life and assist in recognising one’s personal strengths and areas for ongoing growth. Finally, the Columban Admissions Board will consider an application, inviting one to an interview and deciding on one’s suitability for acceptance into the Columban Formation Program.

Initial Studies

Normally, one’s initial studies in Columban formation take place in one’s own country for a period of two years. This includes Philosophy, Church History, Holy Scripture and other relevant subjects.  Sometimes, circumstances will require adjustments in the location and length of these studies. During this stage, there is also ample opportunity for social and pastoral involvement, providing a rich experience of ministry and pastoral care.

Spiritual Year

This is a one-year program of intensive spiritual formation. It is normally undertaken with other English-speaking Columban students in another country.

Studies in Theology and Mission

This degree course is done with Columban students from other countries in a common programme. Besides the regular biblical and theological subjects required for ordination, one also explores the contemporary challenges of mission in today’s world. Engagement in pastoral work continues, usually in multi-cultural and multi-faith situations.

First Mission Assignment

At some point during the Studies in Theology and Mission, there is an experience of practical overseas missionary life for a period of two years. One is assigned to another country to live and work alongside other Columbans, learning the local language, Lay Missionaryfamiliarizing oneself with the history and culture of the people, and engaging in mission in a practical way. This roots one’s studies in real life questions and issues.

Final Preparation

Final preparation for ordination takes place in one’s own country, leading to ordination in one’s home diocese among family and friends. One then takes up an overseas missionary appointment as an ordained member of the Columban Missionaries.

Contact: Vocations Director

St Columban’s,
Widney Manor Road,
West Midlands,
B93 9AB

01564 772096 – 

As a Lay Missionary

Columban Lay Missionaries are an intercultural group of women and men, single and married, called to respond to God’s mission by crossing boundaries of culture, gender, creed and race.


Lay Missionary

Columban Lay missionaries are called by God, initially to leave family, culture and country. In responding to this call, lay missionaries come to know more deeply the compassionate and loving Jesus who made His home with the poor and marginalised. This inspires, guides and nurtures lay missionaries in their journey of presence, witness and service.

At present there are more than 60 lay missionaries from eight different backgrounds serving in twelve of the countries where Columbans work. They are engaged in pastoral and outreach work with local communities, often focusing on social justice work and interfaith dialogue.

The development of Columban Lay Mission in Britain, began in the mid-80’s when three women from the Philippines came to England. In 1994 the first group of British lay missionaries were trained and sent abroad. They departed in January 1995 to Peru. So far there have been 20 British lay missionaries sent on mission to Pakistan, Peru, Chile and the Philippines. One British lay missionary has served in Lima, Peru since 2003.

Britain, since the mid-90’s, has received eight groups of missionaries from overseas (the Philippines and Chile). Currently, there are six lay missionaries based in Birmingham. They engage in various local projects aimed at promoting good relations among people of different faiths and cultures.

Do you fulfill the basic requirements?

  • Are you a British National / resident
  • Are you a committed Christian of the Catholic Tradition.
  • Able to relate one’s faith to all aspects of life.
  • Do you have some experience of pastoral work i.e. in one’s parish, one’s occupation or through voluntary activities.
  • Are you aged between 23 and 40 years of age.
  • Are you able to make a three year overseas commitment.
  • Are you able to participate in a nine month course in the UK to prepare for overseas assignment.
  • Are single or a married couple with dependent children of pre-school age.
  • Are in good physical and psychological health.
  • Are willing to learn a new language and cross barriers of culture and belief.
  • Identify with the Columban response to the Gospel invitation to mission.

Invitation to Mission

The Columban ‘Invitation to Mission Programme’ is now into its 5th year.

So far, 32 people have taken part in this learning experience, growing in faith and understanding through preparation in the UK, a 10-day visit overseas and follow up on return. We have also received in Britain a visiting group of 10 people from the USA.

[Coming soon – blogs written by participants in the Invitation to Mission programme 2015-2018]

Missionary Sisters of St. Columban

Founded by Bishop Edward Galvin in 1925, the Missionary Sisters of St. Columban (Columban Sisters) are an independent religious congregation with strong affiliation to the Columban Missionaries and are present today in many of the same countries. Visit their website for more information.