As a Columban priest

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, familiarizing 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,
Knowle,
Solihull,
West Midlands,
B93 9AB

01564 772096 –


Ask about joining the Columbans

See above for a list of basic requirements

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Meet the Columbans

2 priests with 2 indigenous Filipinos

Columban missionaries work in cross-cultural mission in 15 countries, particularly in Asia and Latin America.