LAUNCH OF SMA JUBILEE YEAR
The Society of African Missions in Ireland officially began celebrations to mark the 150th anniversary of its foundation on 19 March 2006. A special Mass at St Joseph’s SMA Parish Church, Wilton, Cork was celebrated to mark the launch of the Jubilee. The Lord Mayor of Cork, Councillor Deirdre Clune, and the Minister of Enterprise, Employment and Trade, MÃcheÃ¡l Martin, were among the attendance.
Archbishop SeÃ¡n Brady, Primate of All Ireland, was the principal celebrant and the concelebrants included the Apostolic Nuncio, Most Rev Dr Giuseppe Lazzarotto; Most Rev Lewis Ziegler, Bishop of Gbarnga, Liberia; Most Rev John Magee, Bishop of Cloyne;Father Kieran O’Reilly SMA, Superior General of the Society; and the Provincial Superior, Father Fachtna O’Driscoll SMA. Most Rev John Buckley, Bishop of Cork & Ross, presided at the Mass.
The homily was preached by Fr O’Reilly who spoke about the marvellous history of the growth and development of the Irish Province of SMA and its contribution to the wider Society and its mission to Africa. He said “there are many challenges that face missionaries today, especially in a rapidly changing Africa, challenges to live out and give witness to Christ’s call to peace and loveâ€¦ the challenge of the Founder’s vision of living in solidarity with the most abandoned people of Africaâ€¦ of being promoters of justice and peace and the integrity of creation which is at the centre of the mission agenda today”. He called on young people to rise to meet this challenge and to be open to the call of the Lord in the service of the mission of the church in our time. The full text of the homily here.
mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmAt the reception that followed the Mass, the Lord Mayor of Cork, Councillor Clune, spoke of the special place the SMA has in the history of the city where it established its first roots in Ireland. From Cork many missionaries began their missionary journeys and to Cork they returned for rest or retirement when their tasks were done.
Archbishop Brady spoke of the powerful contribution of the Ireland to the mission of the church and great service Irish missionaries had provided in the areas of evangelisation, education and medicine in Africa and elsewhere. Full text of speech here.
The Papal Nuncio spoke of the importance of missionary work for the advancement of the Christian message throughout the world and paid tribute to the work of the SMA and all Irish missionaries who give their lives in the service of the people of God everywhere.
Speaking on behalf of the churches in Africa, Bishop Zeigler of Liberia, thanked the SMA for introducing the church to his own country and to so many other parts of Africa. He thanked the people of Ireland who had sent the priests and brothers and sisters to bring a new hope to their peoples.
A souvenir album about the life and mission of SMA called “SMA â€“ Celebrating 150 Years” was published and presented to the attendance.
A series of other events are planned to mark the Jubilee. Among them:
A conference will be held at UCC on 30-31 March dealing with various aspects of Development, including the role of Missionaries, the impact of HIV-AIDS and Human Rights.
The SMA National Pilgrimage to Knock will be on 27 May.
There will be an International Flower Show at SMA House Dromantine, Newry, Co Down from 1-4 June.