As the numbers of SMAs in Europe decline we are blessed with the growth of SMA vocations in Africa, India and Philippines.
This year we ordained 19 priests, most from different African countries.
On this 163rd anniversary, let us remember these new priests
and all our missionaries in Africa.
May they continue to do great things for God.
On 8 December we celebrate the 163rd anniversary of the foundation of the Society of African Missions by Bishop Melchior de Marion Brésillac, a French-born missionary priest in India for 12 years [1842 – 1854]. He returned to Europe in 1854 determined to establish a missionary Society to preach the Gospel to the most abandoned [for dee Brésillac this meant the west coast of Africa].
In February 1854 he was given permission by Rome to found the SMA. And so on 8 December of that year, in the Basilica of Our Lady of Fourvière, Lyon, France, he dedicated the Society to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. The six others with him made a solemn resolution to be missionaries for life. Three of them set off for Sierra Leone in November 1858. The Founder followed in May 1859. Six weeks after his arrival in Freetown [where Yellow Fever was raging], he died. He was buried by a Protestant missionary.
Today, the SMA has more than 800 brothers, priests and bishops working in 16 African countries and elsewhere in the world. With 150 members, the Irish Province has priests working in Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and Zambia. Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly of Cashel and Emly is a member of the SMA – before becoming a bishop he was the SMA Superior General based in Rome.
As the numbers of SMAs in Europe decline we are blessed with the growth of SMA vocations in Africa, India and Philippines. This year we ordained 19 priests, most from different African countries. On this 163rd anniversary, let us remember these new priests and all our missionaries in Africa. May they continue to do great things for God.
In recent years the Society has been receiving many requests to send priests to Europe and North America, due to the increasing shortage of clergy there. Though our primary commitment is to the people of Africa some African / Indian SMAs are ministering in these places.
In 2016, Fr Alphonse Sekongo – an SMA from Cote d’Ivoire, west Africa – and Fr Ignatius Malwa SMA, from Zambia, came to work in our Irish Province. Fr Alphonse is the Parish Priest of St Joseph’s SMA parish, Blackrock Road, Cork. He is the first African Parish Priest in the diocese of Cork and Ross. Fr Ignatius has just completed three years as the Director of our FVC – Family Vocations Community – which supports the training of our 300+ seminarians in Africa for missionary priesthood.
In November 2019, Fr Ignatius was appointed as the Superior of the SMA team in Zambia, which includes 6 Irish SMA priests. These young men are a sign of the new face of the SMA. Like their predecessors from Europe over the last 163 years they will continue to respond to the various challenges of mission wherever they are.
May God bless all our missionaries in their work.
For information on the status of the Cause of our Founder please click here.