Early days of the SMA presence in the Philippines
The Society of African Missions, at the invitation of the late Cardinal Jaime Sin, arrived in the Philippines in 1985 and established the Good Shepherd parish (GSP) in the Manuela Subdivision of Las Piñas City, one of nine cities which make up Metro Manila. The parish can trace its origin to St Joseph’s parish, Bamboo Organ which was under the pastoral care of the CICM (Scheut) missionaries.
The two SMA priests appointed to lead this first incursion into the Asian continent were Frs John McCormack (from Mayo) and Pat Kelly (Belfast). Both had been missionaries for many years in Liberia, west Africa. Fr Pat had also served for several years as Vocations Director in Ireland. These two men were ideally suited for the task in hand – to develop a new parish in a bustling part of Metro Manila, bring an awareness of Africa to the people of the Philippines and to invite young Filipino men to consider being ‘African missionary priests’ and go to Africa to preach the Good News.
In time, other Irish and Dutch SMAs would serve in the country, as part of the team training our seminarians (from the Philippines and India) as well as working in the parish. Today the SMA team in the Philippines draws on five nationalities: Filipino, Indian, Irish, Nigerian and Benin Republic.
SMA Philippines today
The Philippines District-in-formation (PhDF) has 10 priests, three of whom are serving in Ghana and Tanzania, as well as 6 seminarians at different stages of their formation. The development of this branch of the Society is slow and steady. Now that Filipino SMAs are responsible for their own development it is hoped to see this progress continue and, please God, see an increase in young men seeking to join the Society and go as missionaries to Africa.