This article explores ways in which faith-based education in Ireland, both in the home and in schools, contributed to religious and lay mission and volunteer vocations across much of the twentieth century. Drawing on oral history interviews of 28 Irish women (14 missionary nuns and 14 lay volunteers) and archival sources, we show how both formal and informal faith-based education taught Irish schoolgirls and young women about different forms of overseas service and fostered the impulse to become a part of a humanitarian movement. Religious devotion in the home, together with faith-based primary and secondary schooling, promoted a strong ‘missionary message’, and influenced the decisions of many young women to become missionaries and international volunteers.

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