Columban Mission

Columban Missionaries are called to heal, reconcile, build bridges and create mutual understanding through dialogue which is expressed through our solidarity with marginalized people and the exploited Earth. Columbans are internationally recognized for their work addressing the ongoing threat of climate change, defending the rights of migrants, promoting sustainable economic justice, and engaging in interreligious dialogue.

St. Columban

“A life unlike your own can be your teacher” – St. Columban

The Society takes its name from St. Columban, Ireland's missionary to Europe in the 6th century. St. Columban greatly cared for creation and spent a lot of time in nature. Amid hardship and persecution, St Columban travelled around Europe as a migrant helping to set up monasteries in France, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. He founded his last monastery at Bobbio in Italy where he died on November 23, 615 C.E.  

Columban History

Irish Fathers Edward Galvin and John Blowick formally launched the Missionary Society of St. Columban in 1918. The first Columbans went to China in 1920 to share the suffering of its poor. That same year, the Columbans opened the U.S. Regional headquarters outside of Omaha, Nebraska. Within a couple of years, the Columbans had spread to England, Australia, and New Zealand.

Gradually the vision widened to the Philippines [1929], Korea [1933], Burma [1936], and Japan [1948]. When mainland China was closed to missionaries in the 1950's, the Society responded to the urgent call of Latin America [1951] and Columbans went to the poor in the new urban settlements in Peru and Chile. The Society also responded to the missionary needs of the Church in Fiji, Pakistan, and Taiwan.

Columbans Today

The initial vision has widened in numerous ways. The Columbans, who originally drew their members from the English-speaking world, now invite young people to participate in mission from all the countries within which they work. There are presently 60 Columban Lay Missionaries in twelve countries.

The original vision has not only expanded, but has deepened. The Church, particularly in poor countries, is challenging the structural poverty and the spiraling violence with more emphatic insistence on the basic implications of the Gospel. Columbans see this concern for justice and peace as central to their mission.

There are presently 495 Columban missionaries of ten nationalities ministering in 15 countries.

Source: Adapted from  


Columbans Around the World