Our 14-week training programs are held from September-December each year. We usually refer to our training as a “formation program,” because it is a time of slowing down, deepening one’s spirituality, and preparing inwardly for the upcoming journey as a missionary.
Candidates stay at the Comboni Mission Center in La Grange Park, Illinois, for the duration of the 14 weeks. All meals and lodging are provided.
The objective of our training is to prepare people for beginning overseas mission life and work as a Comboni Lay Missionary. It also serves as the final phase of discernment on the part of the Comboni Lay Missionary Program and the candidates. The contract to begin serving as a lay missionary is signed at the end of training in December during a special Commissioning Ceremony.
Program staff and knowledgeable resource people give classes in Theology, Scripture, and workshops on Cross-Cultural Living, Communication Skills, Conflict Resolution, Mission Spirituality, the Comboni Charism, Relationships and Intimacy Overseas, Staying Healthy Overseas, Living Simply, etc. In most instances, the candidates will have regular discussions with faculty from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.
There are also regular weekly activities such as prayer, mass, and pastoral ministry at an outside agency. Candidates go to spiritual direction and have check-in meetings with the program director on a bi-weekly basis.
We also usually spend at least one week of collaborative formation on the east coast with other lay mission groups. This is a wonderful experience to have time to meet others going through the same process, and possibly to make some friends going to nearby mission sites.
At the close of the formation program, candidates attend a 4-5 day silent retreat, and prepare to commit themselves as Comboni Lay Missionaries at a commissioning ceremony in mid-December. The signing of the contract at the commissioning ceremony is the start of the 3-year contract.