In 1969 Pope Paul VI called on Africans to be missionaries to themselves, “The Church of Christ is well and truly planted in this blessed soil … you Africans must now continue, upon this Continent, the building up of the Church.” In response, the SMA decided – at its 1983 General Assembly – to admit Africans and others to the Society. An international formation programme was set up and formation houses were built in both French and English-speaking countries in Africa to cater for the Preparatory, Philosophy, Spiritual Year and Theology studies of our seminarians. Since 1991, over 350 SMA priests have been trained and ordained for the Society. Today, we have more than 400 students in formation.
Setting up and maintaining this vast programme of training required a huge investment of time, personnel and financial resources.
The Irish Province is heavily involved and committed to supporting the training of African SMAs. Irish members were part of the staff in these formation houses. Irish supporters funded the building of our formation houses and for the on-going upkeep of staff and students. These funds have come from donations and though the ongoing support given by members of the SMA’s Family Vocations Community (FVC) – groups of volunteers who give a set donation for a period of eight years, i.e. the time it takes to train an SMA priest.
The video below is narrated by students and staff in the SMA House of Formation in Kabwe, Zambia. Here students participate in a one year Preparatory Programme followed by a two year Philosophy Programme. When their time in Kabwe ends, they move on to a Spiritual Year and later Theology studies in other SMA Houses.
Funds from the Irish SMA have supported this project.