Society of African Missions

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Melchior de Marion Brésillac, Founder of the Society of African Missions
The HQ of the Society, Lyonsdown, East Barnet

The Society of African Missions (or S.M.A. Fathers) is a Roman Catholic missionary organization.[1] Its members come from around the world with a commitment to serve the people of Africa and those of African descent.


The Society was founded in 1856 by Bishop Melchior de Marion Brésillac with the blessing of Pope Pius IX.[2][3] The initials refer to the name in Latin: Societas Missionum ad Afros.[4]


The Society is not a religious institute, but rather is a society of apostolic life, as its members take only a promise of obedience to their religious Superior (required of all men being ordained in the Catholic Church) and not the religious vows of the evangelical counsels required of consecrated life. Consequently, the priests of the Society are secular clergy.


All the members of the Society of African Missions – both priests and laybrothers, as well as the lay missionaries who work with them - strive to be living witnesses to the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the sixteen countries in Africa where they are present and among people of African heritage wherever they live.

In keeping with their founder's goal of preserving the culture of the African peoples, the United States Province of the Society maintains the African Art Museum in its regional headquarters in Tenafly, New Jersey, one of five maintained worldwide by the Society.

For most of its history, the majority of the Society's members came from Europe or North America. African men who were interested in ministry were discouraged from joining the Society and directed towards their own dioceses. This approach changed in the 1980s, and since that time the vast majority of vocations have come from Africa and Asia.


The international administrative headquarters is in Rome.

As of 2011, there were:

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