Our History

1856: The SMA was founded by Bishop Melchior de Marion Brésillac on 8 December 1856.

1858: Less than two years later, on 4 November 1858 the first SMA missionaries embarked in Marseille for Gorée and later Freetown in the Vicariate of Sierra Leone, the territory entrusted to the SMA. They were Fr Louis Reymond, Fr Jean-Baptiste Bresson and Brother Eugene.

1859: On 14 May, the Founder himself arrived accompanied by Louis Riocreux and Brother Gratien. Yellow fever, a deadly tropical disease, had broken out.

1859: June: On 2 June Fr Riocreux died aged 27. On 5 June Fr Bresson died aged 47. On 13 June Br Gratien died aged 29. On 25 June Bishop de Brésillac himself died aged 46. To complete the sacrifice, on 28 June Fr Reymond died aged 36. The ill Br Eugene was taken back to France by ship.

Back in France the devastating news reached the small group of SMA members led by Father Augustin Planque who succeeded de Brésillac as co-Founder and First Superior General.

Between 1859 – 1907, during his term as Superior General he opened Mission territories in Dahomey (modern-day Benin Republic, 1861), Nigeria (1863), Algeria (1865), Gold Coast (now Ghana, 1879), Egypt (1874), South Africa (1874), Liberia (1906), Ivory Coast (1895).

He founded the Missionary Sisters of our Lady of Apostles, OLA, in 1876.

1876: Fr Francois Devoucoux came to Ireland in 1876 and established the SMA in Ireland in 1878.

1882:Fr Joseph Zimmermann succeeded him as Superior of the SMA development in Ireland.

1912: The Irish Province was founded in 1912. There have been 11 Provincial Superiors leading the Province.

4 Members of the Irish Province of the SMA have been Superiors General of the Society.

21 Members of the Irish Province have been called to serve the Church in Africa as Bishops, Vicars Apostolic and Prefects Apostolic. 1 member has been called to serve the Church in Ireland as Bishop of Killaloe and subsequently as Archbishop of Cashel.

Currently there are 206 members of the Irish Province.

The Father Kevin Carroll Collection of African Photographs is an important record of the life of the people and the work of the SMA in Nigeria. For more information about access to the Collection … see here.

“Sons of Mgr.de Bresillac, go forward! Africa has great need of you”.
John Paul II, 1983.