Comboni Missionaries

For more than 150 years, the Comboni Missionaries have traveled to nearly every corner of the world, sharing the Good News of Christ and working to protect the dignity of all people.

Founded in 1867 by St. Daniel Comboni, the Comboni Missionaries are an international Catholic organization dedicated to ministering to the world’s poorest and most abandoned people, often working in unstable political climates, in the midst of extreme poverty.  

In the winter of 1939, Comboni Missionaries Father Edward Mason (eventually Bishop Mason) arrived at the port of New York to establish the North American Province of the Comboni Missionaries. He later traveled to Cincinnati at the invitation of Archbishop John Timothy McNicholas and spent several decades serving the African-American Catholic communities in Cincinnati’s West End and Lower Price Hill.

Today, the Comboni Missionaries’ commitment is the same as in 1939: to serve the forgotten and often overlooked communities wherever their missions are located. Their focus in the North American Province is pastoral work among marginalized communities, often among minority groups, adapting their ministries to the needs of the times. Currently, they have communities in Cincinnati, home to the provincial headquarters; Los Angeles, California; Newark, New Jersey; La Grange Park, Illinois; and Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.

Since the 1940s, the Comboni Missionaries’ provincial house and mission promotion center have been located in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. The old Sacred Heart Seminary in Anderson Township now houses the Development, Finance, Mission, and Communications offices for the province. This central hub coordinates communication between all their locations on the continent and keeps in touch directly with their missions overseas.

In each place where they serve, the Comboni Missionaries are active in the local community, celebrating Mass, administering the sacraments and hosting events. Much of their ministry is focused on serving Hispanic and African communities.

For many years, the Comboni Missionaries pastored San Carlos Borromeo Church, serving the Hispanic community in Cincinnati. In 1997, they founded Su Casa Hispanic Center, the primary provider of social, educational, language, employment and health care services to the Hispanic/Latino community in Greater Cincinnati. Its mission is to help develop self-sufficiency for the poor and vulnerable of the immigrant community. Today, Catholic Charities of Southwestern Ohio is responsible for this ministry.In the 41 countries where they serve, the Comboni Missionaries strive to bring people closer to God by meeting people where they are. They live among the people to share in their trials and joys. Their work includes:

  • Running local parishes
  • Establishing and running feeding programs
  • Building and operating schools at all levels 
  • Building and operating hospitals, medical clinics and dispensaries 
  • Providing work programs and job training 
  • Clean water project

They also work for justice and peace for every human person through collaboration with other congregations, local governments, non-governmental organizations and organizations such as the United Nations, VIVAT International and the Africa Faith and Justice Network (AFJN). Most recently, they expanded their work to include helping migrants at the US border.

A large part of Comboni Missionaries’ mission in Africa is education. From the beginning, St. Daniel Comboni recognized that education was key to implementing his plan for the regeneration of Africa.

St. Daniel’s mission to “save Africa with Africa started with education. Whenever a mission was built, a school was opened, too. Comboni schools have become well-known for providing an excellent education and future African leaders. Through the special charism of St. Daniel, the Comboni Missionaries continue to make education an important element of their mission, because education offers children a ladder out of poverty and a path to a promising future.

The Comboni Missionaries believe God’s call to mission is as strong today as it was 2,000 years ago when Jesus told His apostles, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation” (Mark 16:15). Jesus advocated for the poor, blessed them, listened to them, and loved them “even unto death.” Comboni Missionaries strive to do the same.

The Comboni family includes the Comboni Missionaries, Together with the Comboni Missionary Sisters, the Comboni Lay Missionaries, staff, supporters and collaborators, they form the Comboni family. Their gifts and talents — and limitations — vary greatly, but they remain united in the common goal to bring compassion and love to God’s people.