fbpx

Who We Are

Sharing Jesus’ vagabond heart for the lost, we at Vagabond Missions build friendships with and serve teens in urban and inner-city communities to bring them the Good News.

Our Story

“A week after finishing college and getting married, my wife and I were hired as youth ministers at a small urban church in New York. We had no clue what we were doing, and neither did anybody else at the church for that matter, but for some reason, kids were showing up in droves. ‘Youth group’ involved a lot of fights and police visits but little by little we realized we were falling in love with these teens. We also fell in love with watching God transform lives as many kids came into the Catholic Church. Jesus was doing something miraculous in the inner city.

“We felt like the man in the gospels who found the pearl of great price and sold everything to buy it. God was present so richly in these young people that we knew this was what we wanted our lives to count for. We wanted to be missionaries with Jesus’ vagabond heart for the lost. So we invited a couple of people with similar hearts to join us in mission. Vagabond Missions was born.”

BOB LESNEFSKY

Founder

What We Do

As Jesus was a vagabond during his earthly ministry, wandering to the margins of society to bring home the wanderers, our missionaries follow his example and bring the Good News to those the world ignores. Vagabond missionaries build friendships with and serve teens in urban and inner-city communities through weekly programs, outreach, and personal mentorship.

OPEN UNDERGROUND

Open Underground is a vibrant and informal after-school program that opens the doors of our youth centers (Undergrounds) to offer teens a place to unwind, connect with friends, and build a sense of community. To foster a sense of belonging, this program offers a laid-back atmosphere where teens can simply hang out, enjoy snacks, play board games, or just chat with friends.

BREAKOUT

Breakout is an exciting and inclusive weekly program designed for teenagers in the local community. This engaging night offers a fun-filled experience with plenty of games and delicious food for everyone to enjoy. Regardless of background or interests, all teenagers are warmly welcomed to participate in the fun. In addition to the lively activities, Breakout provides an opportunity for attendees to gather and listen to a brief, inspiring talk centered around timeless messages from the Gospels. It’s a night of camaraderie, entertainment, and spiritual reflection, making it the best night of the week for all who join.

BIBLE STUDY & WORSHIP

Bible Study & Worship is a weekly program tailored to teenagers in the community who are eager to explore and strengthen their faith through the study of Sacred Scripture. This program offers a deep dive into the teachings of the Bible, providing a space for them to ask questions, seek understanding, and engage in meaningful discussions about their faith journeys. Depending on the mission site, this program also includes a time of praise and worship, creating moments of spiritual reflection through uplifting music, heartfelt prayers, and communal worship.

JESUS CLASS

Jesus Class is a weekly program designed for teenagers who are earnestly interested and committed to embracing Catholicism. Guided by Vagabond missionaries and the local faith community, teens explore the foundational principles of Catholicism in order to deepen their understanding of Scripture, theology, and the Church’s teachings. This class offers space for discussion, sharing personal insights, stories of the saints, and tools to nurture a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

DISCIPLESHIP GROUPS

Discipleship Groups are small groups for teens led by a dedicated Vagabond missionary that offer practical guidance on how to apply the teachings of Jesus in everyday life. Teens learn to integrate faith into their actions, decisions, and relationships, laying the foundation for a genuine and profound connection with Christ. The group setting provides a place for teens to share their struggles and victories and receive support and encouragement from the other members of the group.

Our Missionaries

Each of our mission teams is made up of an Area Director, a Team Lead, and several missionaries who undertake various programming, team, and spiritual commitments. By allowing Jesus and their teammates to meet them and love them in their own poverty, Vagabond missionaries pour themselves out for the most forgotten and neglected young people in our society.

MISSIONARY

Missionaries establish and nurture relationships with the teens in their community and provide spiritual guidance and mentorship to them. They assist in the development and implementation of programs that teach the Gospel to teens and address the unique needs of the neighborhood and collaborate with team members and volunteers to create a supportive environment that fosters personal and spiritual growth. They provide regular reports on program activities, progress, and challenges to the Team Lead and Area Director.

TEAM LEAD

The Team Lead empowers a team of missionaries to effectively carry out the mission, provides spiritual formation for them, and organizes regular time for them to pray together. With the Area Director, they design and implement programs that teach the Gospel to teens and address the unique needs of the neighborhood. They provide mentorship and support for the teens of the community, recruit and train volunteers, and continually evaluate the effectiveness of their outreach initiatives with the Area Director.

AREA DIRECTOR

The Area Director mentors and provides pastoral care to a team of missionaries and with them designs and implements programs that teach the Gospel to teens and address the unique needs of the neighborhood, continually evaluating the programs for their effectiveness. They also engage with the greater community to develop a supportive network, recruit and train volunteers, and collaborate with the development team to raise funds to sustain the site’s operations.

Our Impact

9

Cities

5000+

Teens Served

200+

Teens Became Catholic

We currently serve in 13 missions across nine cities: Baton Rouge, LA; Greenville, NC; Mobile, AL; Indianapolis, IN; Oklahoma City, OK; Philadelphia, PA; four sites in Pittsburgh, PA; Steubenville, OH; and two sites in Wichita, KS.

Our Core Values

St. Teresa of Calcutta

Deep Prayer Life

Deep Prayer Life

Everything we do flows from our relationship with Christ. We do ministry out of a desire to quench Jesus’ thirst for souls from the cross, but we always start from his thirst for us. We desire to embrace the active contemplative spirituality that St. Teresa of Calcutta so beautifully espoused, answering Christ’s cry of thirst for us.
St. Isaac Jogues

Driven to Mission

Driven to Mission

We are driven to serve the forgotten in the inner city because of Christ’s invitation in the Gospel to “go … and make disciples of all nations” (Mt. 28:19). We seek to courageously proclaim to all the truth of Christ, regardless of the cost to ourselves, following St. Isaac Jogues’ example: “I do not fear death or torture. I do not know why you would kill me. I come here to confirm the peace and show you the way to heaven.”
St. Jose Sanchez del Rio

Selfless & Serving Heart

Selfless & Serving Heart

We change the world by simple, selfless acts of love and service. Christ emptied himself and came into the world in humble poverty. Like Jesus, we choose to embrace our poverty in life. St. José Sánchez del Rio is an example of the selfless heart of the Vagabond missionary. In humility, we accept the daily challenges to love and serve others.
St. Josephine Bakhita

Builders of Community

Builders of Community

We create community with teens, missionaries, and mission partners. Through our positive language, we seek to build each other up and cultivate the Body of Christ, as St. Josephine Bakhita modeled for us: “The Lord has loved me so much: we must love everyone… we must be compassionate!”
St. John Paul II

Self-starters

Self-starters

We move because Jesus moves within us. We don’t simply dream big; we take initiative like St. John Paul II, who exemplifies the Catholic innovator. As he once said to the youth of the Church, “It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be ground down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal.”
Sr. Thea Bowman

Fun

Fun

Sr. Thea Bowman was a great example of the joy and fun that we seek to embrace as missionaries. Her joy, founded in Christ, brought about positive change in her life and in those around her. We also focus on expressing our joy through positive and caring language. Our fun flourishes in our pursuit of temperance and chastity, especially under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We believe no saint, and no Vagabond missionary, is boring!

Join the Mission

“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks with compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world.” -St. Teresa of Avila

When you partner with us by serving as a missionary or through your financial support, you act as the hands and feet of Christ and bring his love to those who may otherwise never know him. Become part of the Vagabond Missions family today and share the love of Jesus Christ with people who are longing to meet him.