“I see the dawning of a new missionary age, which will become a radiant day bearing an abundant harvest.”
Pope St. John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, #92

“Evangelizing spouses is what our parishes need, especially in urban areas where the pastor and his priest collaborators will never have time and energy to reach all the faithful.”
Pope Francis, January 25, 2020

The Missionaries to the Family initiative consists of three stages: Discernment, Formation and Service. The Discernment stage explores a person’s calling, desire and fit for becoming a Missionary to the Family. The Formation stage provides professional training to the missionaries to help them fulfill their calling. The Service stage follows Formation and empowers the missionary in their mission work within or around the parish.

Most often, couples or individuals receive an invitation to serve as a missionary to the family. Whether from a priest, parish staff member, family member or friend, this invitation begins the discernment process. Those discerning will receive information about the initiative, take time to discuss their fit for the role and enter into prayer for God’s guidance in making the decision. Should they decide to become a missionary, a conversation with their pastor and Paradisus Dei will take place, and a formal application will be completed. Missionaries will be informed of their acceptance into the next stage, Formation.

Interested in exploring the path of becoming a Missionary to the Family? Participate in one of our upcoming virtual Information Session.

This stage consists of three types of formation over one year’s time:

  • Theological
  • Spiritual
  • Practical

Theological formation is provided by the McGrath Institute for Church Life (MICL) at the University of Notre Dame and consists of four online courses. Spiritual and Practical formation is provided by Paradisus Dei through a combination of in person retreats and online coursework. Missionaries should expect to spend approximately two hours per week on the online courses. The Formation year begins with a retreat at Notre Dame in August. The second retreat’s location varies by class year, and the final Commissioning retreat weekend is hosted at the University of Notre Dame. Here is the quarterly schedule:


Quarter Formation Given by Season
1 Retreat Paradisus Dei at Notre Dame Fall
Theology MICL, Notre Dame Fall
Spiritual/Practical Paradisus Dei Fall
2 Theology MICL, Notre Dame Winter
Spiritual/Practical Paradisus Dei Winter
3 Retreat Paradisus Dei (location varies by class year) Spring
Theology MICL, Notre Dame Spring
Spiritual/Practical Paradisus Dei Spring
4 Theology MICL, Notre Dame Summer
Spiritual/Pratical Paradisus Dei Summer
Commissioning Paradisus Dei at Notre Dame Summer

After the year of Formation, missionaries are ready to go out and serve their community and parish. Paradisus Dei will help facilitate a conversation with their parish about their special focus area, either serving families within the existing parish structure or serving families on the periphery of the parish. Missionaries can do a variety of work with couples and families in their area. Some couples help in marriage prep or as sponsor couples for engaged couples in their parish. Missionaries can also use Paradisus Dei content like The Choice Wine to host small groups in their homes and create friendships with other couples. Missionaries will be commissioned to begin their service to families in the parish at the end of Formation. The Commissioning Retreat is held in the Summer after the completion of the Formation year.

The investment per missionary couple is $2,500 (total cost is $5,000 and $2,500 is covered by Paradisus Dei). This fee includes online formation and onsite retreat and commissioning expenses. It does not include travel to and from the retreats and commissioning.

Cost may be covered by the couple themselves or sponsored by the parish, the diocese, or other couples at the parish. It is recommended that the diocese and/or parish identify a shared investment model with the missionaries. For example, one partner diocese chose to have the diocese/parish pay half the cost per couple and asked the couple to pay the remaining costs. Need based scholarships are also available. Please contact Paradisus Dei to apply.

To learn more about the Missionaries to the Family initiative,
please contact our missionary team at: [email protected]

Missionaries to the Family Class of 2020