The 2019 SMA Provincial Assembly begins on Monday, July 1, 2019 at the SMA Conference and Retreat Centre, Dromantine.
As well as General Assemblies, which mark an important transition between the leadership and policy decisions for the next 6 years in the global SMA family, so too the Provincial Assembly will reflect on the past and chart the course of the next six years for the Irish Province.
The current Provincial Leader, Fr. Michael McCabe SMA, who is going out of office, has asked his SMA confreres and the wider SMA family and our many supporters to join with us in prayer over the next three weeks as a new leadership team and new policy decisions are considered.
“These are challenging times,” Fr. McCabe told the SMA Communications Department. “We live in a rapidly changing world and in an Ireland that is very different from the one many of us left as young missionaries in our youth. Our age profile, coupled with the fact that we have not had Irish vocations for many years, means we need to reflect on our diminishing numbers and how this will impact the next two decades. Thankfully, the African Church has given us many new vocations and we are seeing the transition of the Society of African Missions from being primarily European to an indigenous African missionary society, something, I am certain, our Founder, Mgr Melchior Marion de Brésillac, would welcome.”
“Important decisions will be made in the coming weeks,” Fr. McCabe continued, “and I am asking my SMA confreres, the wider SMA family and our many supporters, to keep us in your constant prayers, invoking the Holy Spirit to guide us in our reflections and the decisions we must make for the next six years.”
Amongst the issues to be addressed at the Irish Provincial Assembly will be the following:
1. Support of the mission to Africa through financial assistance, ensuring transparency and accountability.
2. With fewer personnel now serving in Africa, how best to present a positive perception of Africa and the needs of the continent to the Irish public?
3. With an ageing membership profile and ageing supporters, how can we attract new energy through a lay commitment to a home-based mission within the SMA outreach tradition?
4. The Laity’s changing role in the SMA: How best can we continue with the policy of engagement with laity, based on a common baptism and a personal commitment to SMA in a mission primarily focused on Ireland? In addition, how can we advance lay management of our Houses seamlessly, and protect SMA hospitality and Society ethos?
5. Examining issues of Safeguarding, Data Protection, Integrity of Mission, Restructuring, Charity Law and Governance and Human Resources.
6. The renewal and re-energizing of the SMA Justice agenda, informed by Catholic Social Teaching as expressed in Welcoming the Stranger, combatting Climate Change (addressed by the SMA Thumbprint Campaign for climate justice, The Family Tree Programme, the Laudato Tree and Great Green Wall project), advocacy of African justice issues, Inter-Faith dialogue, and highlighting the widening gap between the rich and poor, between African and European nations.
7. How best can we advocate a renewed evangelisation of Ireland through Christian faith as we face the challenges of Health care, homelessness, integrity of leadership (Church and State), the economic and social gap and a genuine concern for the poor and marginalized?
8. How to engage SMA members and all SMA Ireland in a Communications strategy which better connects all within Ireland and promotes renewed commitment to faith expression and values in a growing secular and sometimes indifferent society?
9. The Election of a new Provincial administration, including a successor to Fr. Michael McCabe SMA, for the next six years.
The Assembly ends on July 21st. We will keep our readers informed of ongoing developments over the coming weeks.