The Comboni Lay Missionary Program in the United States began in 1994. The Comboni Mission Center where we hold our formation program is located in La Grange Park, Illinois, outside of Chicago. Since the beginning, more than 55 lay people have served overseas as Comboni Lay Missionaries. In the early years, the lay missionaries served mainly in Uganda. Since that time, lay missionaries from North America have served in 11 countries, and we receive new requests each year.
More than 4,000 priests, brothers, sisters, and lay people form the Comboni Missionaries, a group of men and women dedicated to announcing the Gospel, serving the poor, and working for the Reign of God.
The Comboni Missionaries were founded in 1867, by the missionary priest, Daniel Comboni (1831-1881), who was born in the small town of Limone sul Garda (Brescia, Italy). He struggled against the slave trade in Central Africa, set up centers for the education and training of Africans, and became the first bishop of Khartoum (Sudan).
St. Daniel Comboni’s greatest achievement was to make the needs of Africa known in his own day and especially in Sudan. He wanted the voice of those held in slavery to be heard by the church and by the whole world. If he were alive today, he would have just as much to say about the crisis in Darfur, Sudan.
Comboni Missionary Values
For St. Daniel Comboni, the key elements of a missionary method include the following:
- Respect the culture and natural religious expression of the people to whom we go to serve.
- Make common cause with the people: Live a simple lifestyle, show generosity and solidarity with the least of all, be a prophetic voice for those who have no voice.
- Evangelize as community: Live like a community of apostles, united by prayer and work; search together for ways to serve our brothers and sisters more effectively.
Today, the Comboni Missionaries are present in 41 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and North America. They minister to the poor and powerless, helping them to improve their quality of life and grow in Christian faith.
From the beginning, Bishop Comboni enlisted the aid of lay people who were committed to his ideal of preparing Africans to carry on the church’s work among their own people. The Comboni Lay Missionary Program is one way for today’s laity to continue that commitment and to participate in Comboni’s plan to share their lives and faith with the poor throughout the world.
Director: Paul Wheeler
Chaplain: Fr. Angelo Biancalana, MCCJ