Thanks to a $1 million grant from the Lilly Foundation’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.
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.”
“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
Timothy P. Muldoon, Ph.D., Director of Mission Education
Tim is a theologian, professor, and author/editor of 12 books on Ignatian spirituality, the theology of the laity, and marriage and family spirituality. He was the inaugural director of the Church in the 21st Century Center at Boston College, and later served for 10 years in the University’s Office of Mission and Ministry. He served on Catholic Extension’s mission committee for five years before joining the organization full time in 2017. Tim, his wife, and three teen children are parishioners at Good Shepherd Parish in Wayland, MA.