Be a missionary in the inner city

The world needs people who will do something crazy for Jesus, who will boldly go to the margins and show the face of Christ to the ones society ignores. Will you say yes to the adventure?

Become a full-time Catholic missionary with Vagabond Missions. We’ve been waiting for you.

What does it mean to be a Vagabond missionary?

Vagabond missionaries are passionate Catholics who commit at least two years of their lives to bring the joy and love of Christ to the most forgotten and neglected young people in our society. As part of a mission team, which includes an Area Director, a Team Lead, and other missionaries, they build friendships with and serve teens in urban and inner-city communities through weekly programs, outreach, and personal mentorship.

If you feel that God might be calling you to be a Vagabond missionary but don’t know what to do next, we’re here to help — download our free guide, 5 Keys to Discernment, to learn how to hear God’s voice and follow his will for your life.


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.


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.


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.

What We Do

A Vagabond missionary is committed to service, community, and prayer. Therefore, the schedule of a Vagabond missionary is made up of programming, team, and spiritual commitments. Learn about a typical year in the life of a Vagabond missionary below.


  • 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.

Spiritual Commitments

  • All-Staff Holy Hour
  • Local Holy Hour (with your city or team)
  • Fasting Day

Team Commitments

  • House Meeting
  • Cleaning Time (with your house)

Spiritual Commitments

  • Mass
  • Personal Prayer Time
  • Communal Prayer Time (with your house or team)

Team Commitments

  • House Chores

Spiritual Commitments

  • Personal Retreat Day: The monthly personal retreat day serves as a vital pillar of support for our missionaries and staff, offering a crucial balance between service and self-care. This day is dedicated to uninterrupted time for us to encounter God through our unique and personal relationships with him.
  • Confession
  • Spiritual Direction

Team Commitments

  • All-Staff Meeting
  • Core Team/Wider Community Gathering

Spiritual Commitments

  • Desert Day: Desert Day is a quarterly team retreat day designed to provide missionaries and staff with a unique opportunity to pause, reflect, and rejuvenate as a mission site. We step away from our daily responsibilities to receive the spiritual nourishment and communal support necessary to continue meaningful and faith-filled work within the mission.

Team Commitments

  • All-Staff Gathering: At our annual All-Staff Gathering, we set aside a few days to rest and encounter the Lord with the entire staff and missionaries, team leads, and area directors from every mission site.
  • New Missionary Training
  • Team Lead & Area Director Training

Our Stories

In my teen years, I was into drugs, alcohol, and some gang-related activities. Cue Vagabond Missions. By the grace of God, I met the male missionary working in Wichita. He invited my cousins and me to hang out and eat food at the Underground. I started going to Mass and Bible studies. Even though I wasn’t totally invested, the consistency and the love that came from those events were starting to change something inside of me.

In the spring of 2018, I chose to get confirmed. I took the leap to follow Jesus and I have not looked back since. After high school, I decided that I wanted to give other teens the same chance that I got to get out of the cycle that we are in when we live in the inner city. I chose to dedicate my life radically to God by becoming a Vagabond missionary.


I chose Vagabond because it challenged me in every way possible. Initially, fear surrounded my decision; I questioned how I could relate to the teens, given my suburban California upbringing. However, I resolved that if I could help even one soul encounter Jesus, it would be worthwhile.

This desire was the driving force behind my involvement with Vagabond and it profoundly impacted my faith journey. I’ve come to understand that there are situations and experiences beyond my comprehension. I can’t necessarily change their circumstances, and many times, my prayers and presence are all I can offer. Despite my imperfect love, I can participate in this ministry and be part of these teens’ lives, for which I am eternally grateful.


I pride myself on being the very first Vagabond missionary. I said yes right away to joining the mission because I felt like the Lord had called me to do something radical with my life. I often say that I am the man I am today largely because of Vagabond. My faith life has been prioritized and nourished daily through our rule of life. I met my wife while on mission, and now I get the amazing opportunity to raise a family while on mission as well.

The thing I love most about Vagabond (outside of the incredible people I get to work with every day) is getting to wake up on a daily basis with a front-row seat to God working miracles in the lives of teens who live in the inner city and urban areas. It’s the Gospel being lived out in real and tangible ways.


I knew the Lord had put the desire in my heart to serve him, love him in the poor and in teenagers, and live in a community where I could continue to be formed and grow in my faith. I found all three in Vagabond Missions!

What I did not know was how much being a Vagabond missionary would completely transform my heart and relationship with Christ. I have been forced to rely entirely on the Lord – that he will provide words when I don’t know what to say, that he will provide hope amid the suffering our teens face when there is nothing we can do, and that he will reveal himself to these teens and draw them to himself in his timing, not mine. This continues to teach me what living out complete surrender to the Lord means: his will, not ours, be done.


Take the Next Step


Applications are open October 1, 2023-May 1, 2024.


A Zoom interview will be scheduled upon our reception of an application.


Offers are extended on a rolling basis.

Early Formation

Newly committed missionaries begin virtual formation with veteran staff. This year’s dates are April 29, May 13, and May 27, 2024.


Newly hired missionaries gather for three weeks of in-person training. This year’s training occurs on June 2-21, 2024.

Mission Partner Development (MPD)

Immediately following training are six weeks of full-time work to raise financial support for the mission year.


Once fully funded, missionaries begin their two-year mission commitment at their assigned locations in August.

Apply to be a Vagabond missionary today

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Frequently Asked Questions

When is the application deadline?

The application deadline is May 1, 2024.

What are the requirements to be a Vagabond missionary?

A Vagabond missionary must be:

  • A Catholic in good standing with the Catholic Church, who is passionate about their faith
  • At least one year out of high school
  • Driven to mission and community
  • Willing to make a minimum commitment of two years to the mission

How long is the commitment to serve?

The commitment to serve is two years.

How does Mission Partner Development (MPD) work?

Mission Partner Development (MPD) is how we fundraise to support ourselves and our work. Missionaries go through an extensive Support Raising Solutions Bootcamp that equips them with the tools to raise support for their mission year.

Do missionaries receive benefits?

Yes. Vagabond missionaries are offered healthcare benefits, monthly personal retreat days, staff retreats, and the opportunity to pursue a Master’s degree at Franciscan University of Steubenville at 50% tuition cost.

Does Vagabond Missions offer scholarships or financial aid to missionaries?

Vagabond Missions has scholarship opportunities for missionaries of color and for those from inner-city neighborhoods through the Sha Smith Fund. The purpose of the Sha Smith Fund is twofold. One, to raise up more leaders of color within Vagabond Missions, and two, to help missionaries who come from low-income neighborhoods in their support-raising efforts.

This scholarship fund is available to missionaries during their first three years of service with Vagabond Missions. During this time, missionaries will work closely with a support-raising coach to continue to grow and expand their mission partner team.

More questions?