Mission Immersion Program for Pastors

Thanks to a $1 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.’s Sustaining Pastoral Excellence program, Catholic Extension is hosting a multi-year effort to invite pastors from urban/suburban dioceses to visit mission dioceses throughout the United States and its territories.

Our new Mission Immersion Program for Pastors invites pastors to experience firsthand the Church’s inspiring and diverse missionary work in poor or far-flung regions of this continent, while forming bonds with fellow priests and lay ministers both at home and in the mission communities they visit.

In our first several trips, we’ve seen the ways that immersion in a mission diocese can offer pastors an experience of renewal of their commitment to ministry, and a deeper commitment to the universal Church in its ministry to those living on the margins of society.

We seek to invite pastors with at least a few years of experience, and an openness to lifelong learning, to a three-day, all expenses paid, mission immersion trip.

Pastor Immersion Trip to Lopezville, Texas

The Immersion Experience

Watch the video below to see how several priests from the Archdiocese of Boston describe their experiences on the inaugural immersion trip with Catholic Extension.

These are some of the Catholic communities that you could visit through the mission immersion program:

  • Native American reservations in the West
  • African-American parishes in the Deep South
  • Migrant farm worker camps in farmlands
  • Shanty towns along the U.S. – Mexico Border
  • Remote missions in Appalachia
  • Caribbean islands of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands


From those who travel:

 “Visiting places like Eastern Kentucky and the Indian reservations where the Church is in the minority opened my eyes to the challenge of the Church and…also deepened my respect for the work it does.”

Pastor immersion trip

“The more we travel, the more open minded we get, when you see the south vs the north and the way the Church operates…It makes everyone aware of different situations. People in smaller areas know they are not alone, [the visit] helps them see…beyond their circumstance.”

 “This was great, there was a kindred vision of Church, we knew each other — [the trip] created social opportunities, and conversations”

From the host:

“Our experience has been that those [visitors] who have had a good relationship, maintain contact and it has affected them in some form.” – Visited Pastor

“For people that have been visited, there is a satisfaction of knowing that people are interested in what they’re doing…That in and of itself is very rewarding.” – Visited Pastor

Pastor immersion trip to El Paso, Texas

Trip Leadership

Natalie Donatello, Senior Manager of Parish Partnerships

Natalie Donatello