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About Us

“Motivated by the Gospel of Christ and faithful to the charism of our Founder in the mission entrusted to us, we give prophetic witness to the compassionate love of God for the world (cf. John 3:16). Attentive to the ever-changing signs of the times, and in a spirit of openness and dialogue, we cooperate with local churches, and with all who share our objectives. We work, chiefly among Africans and peoples of African origin and engage in a ministry of service and empowerment.” - SMA Constitutions & Laws, part. 2.

The SMA Irish Province is part of an International Missionary Society founded in 1856 in Lyons, France.  In 1922, an autonomous Irish Province was established – the first of many Provinces and units that would later be established around the world.

In all over 700 Irishmen have become SMA Missionaries. They have, for more than 100 years served as Priests, Brothers and Bishops in Benin, Egypt, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, Tanzania, South Africa and Zambia as well as in other parts of the world. They engaged in pastoral, educational and social development projects, helping to build up the society, community and Church wherever they worked and lived. They, along with SMA’s from other Provinces (Americans, British, Dutch, French and Italian) played a very significant part in the expansion of the SMA in the 1980’s through the inclusion of Africans and Asians as members of the Society.  As a result, there are now hundreds of African and Asian-born SMA priests and hundreds African / Asian students training to become SMA Missionaries.  They will continue the work begun by others many decades ago.

There are now 126 members of the SMA Irish Province, many of whom are retired in Ireland. They live and work in five SMA Houses – two in Cork, and 3 others in Claregalway, Dublin and Dromantine, Newry, County Down. The Society has responsibility for two Parishes in Cork City and 15 SMA priests are serving in different dioceses in Ireland.

The Irish Province continues to make a valuable missionary contribution by supporting work and activities in Africa. In addition to missionaries on the ground the Irish Province also provides considerable financial support through donations received from its supporters and sponsors in Ireland.  This helps to maintain our Seminaries and Formation Houses as well as providing for the upkeep of our missionaries and parishes. The Irish Province provides annual grants to support pastoral, social development and care for creation projects in Africa.

Here in Ireland, our commitment to Africa is also evident though pastoral support for Africans living in Ireland and cooperation with organisations working with and seeking the integration of Africans.  The SMA seeks to include Africans living in Ireland in its life and work. The SMA Justice Office raises awareness of injustice in Africa and against Africans and engages in advocacy to address these issues.



Our Founder

The Society of African Missions has traditionally been referred to as the SMA dating back to the Latin title: i.e. Societas Missionum ad Afros, when the SMA was founded at Lyons (France) in 1856 by the Venerable Bishop Melchior de Marion Brésillac.

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Our History

Founded in 1856 in France, nearly all of those who went to Sierra Leone, including the Founder died of Yellow Fever in 1859. Despite this setback and through the commitment and determination of Fr Augustine Planque the mission in Africa continued. The Irish Province was established 20 years later and now the SMA has a global membership that spans Europe, America, Asia and Africa.


Our Houses

In Ireland, the SMA has four houses – two in Cork, one in Dublin and one in Claregalway, along with two-based parishes. In Northern Ireland there is a house and conference centre for events and retreats.