Lay Missionaries

How would you define a Lay Missionary?

Would you define a Lay Missionary as a person who spends 1 month in a third world country, helping in some form of ministry? What possibilities are their for a young adult wanting to do so?

Dear Andrew,

While it would certainly be the case that you could say it was lay missionary work, you might not actually be termed a lay missionary after so short a time

Most missionary groups ask for a longer period of time in order to really make a contribution in the receiving community. Most missionaries would agree it takes six months or more to feel comfortable to a new culture, mastering issues of language, diet, culture, homesickness and other issues. They would say that it is only after that time that they are able to make any worthwhile contribution to a community. Of course, all missionaries must allow opportunity for themselves to be formed and learn from the places and peoples to whom they were sent.

Lay missionary groups most frequently ask for a commitment of no less than 12 months, two years being more common. This lets you get the feel of the culture and have a chance to make a contribution. A stay of just a month will really just give you a taste of what missioanry life is like but it would be nearly impossible to really dig in and get to work. Most regular jobs here in Australia work the same way - after a month you have barely started

If you are interested in work as a lay missionary, in Australia it is probably a good idea to get in touch with PALMS. You can find out about them at

What opportunities are there available for lay missionaries from Australia?

Dear Rachel,

Thanks for your email. There are lots of opportunities for volunteer work within Australia that would be real missionary work, e.g. joining an organisation or group that works with

- the detainees in our detention centres
- rural or urban Aboriginal people
- poor and homeless in the cities
- drug rehabilitation and injecting rooms
- volunteer work in the area of mental health
- volunteers in nursing homes and for the dying.

You might like to check out some of the home pages of the religious orders in Australia. A number of them specialise in these areas. There is also an orgainsation called PALMS - they have opportunities for serving both within and beyond Australia. Their website can be accessed through the OzVocations website Click on Lay Missionary on the homepage, and go from there.
I hope that this reply has helped you. Please feel very welcome to make further contact if you have any further questions.

God Bless
Sister Mary

What third orders can I join as a married person?

Thank you, Kevin, for your question.

There are a number of Third Orders that are very active in the Church. The ones that come to mind immediately are connected with the Fransiscans, Dominicans, Carmelites, and Marist Fathers. If interested in investigating further, you would need to contact each of these Orders individually on how to go about joining - you could find the contact people by accessing their respective pages on the CVMA website

Another possibility you may not have considered is investigating some of the New Ecclesial Movements that exist. Groups such as The Focalare Movement are very active and have a large membership.

All the best,
Br Rod Thomson fms 


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