By the end of the month, 54 young people between 20 and 30 years of age will have set out for missions around the world.
The new lay missionaries, 28 men and 26 women, who this year come from Germany, Austria and Switzerland, are “temporary,” opting to share the life of Divine Word missionary priests and the local people for one or two years.
Before their departure, the young missionaries complete a nine-month preparation course. The course begins with an orientation seminar, to help them reach a decision.
The seminar is usually followed by three study weekends devoted to various subjects (God, mankind and self) and a week in a monastery or convent.
The formation period ends with a two-week seminar in Steyl and a final Mass during which the missionaries receive their missionary cross and mandate. While on the mission, the “temporaries” keep in contact with the Steyl center by letter, phone and e-mail.
The idea of temporary missionaries first surfaced during the annual Catholic Day in Germany held in Berlin in 1980, when a group of young people asked the Divine Word congregation about short-term missionary commitment.
Since then, 660 temporary missionaries, 374 women and 286 men, have served in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Ghana, India, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Moldavia, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Philippines, Russia, Zambia, South Africa, Tanzania and Byelorussia.