Society of African Missions
Societas Missionum ad Afros
Melchior de Marion Brésillac, Founder of the Society of African Missions
|Formation||8 Dec 1856|
|Founder||Melchior de Marion Brésillac|
|Type||Catholic Missionary Society of Apostolic Life|
The Society of African Missions (or S.M.A. Fathers) is a Roman Catholic missionary organization. Its members come from around the world with a commitment to serve the people of Africa and those of African descent. Fr. Antonio Porcellato is the General Superior of the Society of African Missions.
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 2017, there are:
- 5 Provinces: Britain, Ireland, Italy, Lyon, and the United States.
- 4 Districts: Canada, the Netherlands, Spain and Strasbourg
- 8 Districts in Formation: Benin, Central African Republic, Nigeria; Great Lakes (Angola, DR Congo, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia); Gulf of Guinea (Burkina Faso, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Togo); India; Philippines and Poland. The Society counts 865 members.
Superior Generals of the Society of African Missions
- 1859-1907 : Fr. Augustin Planque
- 1907-1914 : Mgr. Paul Pellet
- 1914-1919 : Mgr. Auguste Duret
- 1919-1933 : Fr. Jean-Marie Chabert
- 1933-1937 : Fr. Auguste Bruhat
- 1937-1947 : Fr. Maurice Slattery
- 1947-1958 : Fr. Stephen Harrington
- 1958-1973 : Fr. Henri Monde
- 1973-1983 : Fr. Joseph Hardy
- 1983-1995 : Fr. Joseph Patrick Harrington
- 1995-2001 : Fr. Daniel Cardot
- 2001-2010 : Fr. Kieran O'Reilly
- 2010-2013 : Fr. Jean-Marie Guillaume
- 2013-2019 : Fr. Fachtna O'Driscoll
- Since May 2019 : Fr. Antonio Porcellato
Society of African Missions (Irish Province)
The Irish Province of the SMA was founded in 1912 as aeparate province. It has houses in Dublin, Cork, Newry (Dromantine House) and Galway. Four members of the Irish province have served as superior general of the Society of African Missions including Bishop Kieran O'Reilly SMA and Bishop Patrick Harrington SMA. Currently there are about 200 members of the Irish province. Cois Tine (which means fireside in Irish) is an initiative by the SMA in Ireland helping immigrants from Africa. The SMA administers two churches in Cork: St Joseph's Church, Blackrock Road, and St Joseph's Church, Wilton. The society also has a plot in St Joseph's Cemetery, Cork.
Provincials of the Irish Province
- Stephen Kyne (1912-1913)
- Maurice Slattery (1913-1918, 1925-1931)
- William Butler (1918-1925)
- Stephen Harrington (1931-1946)
- Patrick Kelly (1946-1952)
- John Creaven BA MA PhD(1952-1968)
- Laurence Carr BCL DCL (1968-1976)
- Joseph Donnelly BA BSc HDipEd (1976-1978)
- Cornelius Murphy BA HDipEd (1978-1989)
- John Quinlan STL LSS MA (1989-2001)
- Fachtna O'Driscoll BA BD (2001-2013)
- Michael McCabe BA DD (2013-2019)
- Malachy Flanagan (2019-)
History of the Irish Province of the Society of African Missions
The presence of the SMA in Ireland began in 1876 with Fr James O’Haire volunteered his services to the SMA to go to Ireland to recruit english speaking priests for the missions, and he set up an apostolic school in cork in 1877, 'Lough View', on the Old Youghal Road, later that year it moved to 'Elm Grove', Mayfield, in 1878 Fr Francis Devoucoux SMA came to Mayfield, Cork to take charge of the Apostolic school. Following studies in Cork, students would go to Lyon, France to study Theology and Philosophy, before ordination. In 1919 the first ordinations occurred in Cork for the SMA by Bishop Broderick.
The Irish province was officially founded on the 15th May 1912 by Bishop Paul Pellet, SMA Superior General, and is based in Cork. In cork there was the Juniorate/Classical school (St. Joseph's) in Wilton, and the Theological Seminary, Blackrock Road. From 1914 to 1924 a novitiate for brothers was housed in Westport. In 1916, the SMA was left Cloughballymore House in Galway in the will of its owner Llewellyn Blake, setting it up as a seminary, St Columba’s Scholasticate in Cloughballymore, Galway, with students studying Philosophy and taking a degree at University College Galway. The SMA Juniorate at Sacred Heart College, Ballinafad, Co Mayo, which was founded in 1908, by Fr. Joseph Zimmerman, it prepared students for the Intermediate Certificate with students then transferring to Cork to complete the Leaving Certificate, it closed in 1970. Cloughballymore operated until the 1950s when it was sold by the society. In 1926, Provincial of the SMA Maurice Slattery bought Domantine House and estate in Co. Down, which served as the SMA Theologate, taking over from Cork as the major seminary for the society. Dromantine served as a seminary up until 1972, training over 600 priests in that time, From 1972 SMA students were trained at the National Seminary, Maynooth College. In 1996 Dromantine House was developed into a retreat and conference centre.
Society of African Missions (US Province)
The US Province of the SMA was established in 1941 with the French born Fr. Ignatius Lissner SMA as its first Provincial Superior. The Provinces headquarters is in New Jersey, currently the US branch has 20 priests, as well as Lay missionaries, the Provincial Superior is Fr. Michael Moran. Members of the Society have served in Africa and in the US.
Notable Members of the Society of African Missions
- Bishop Thomas Broderick SMA, Irish born, educated in Cork and Lyon, served as Vicars Apostolic of Western Nigeria (Roman rite)
- Bishop Timothy Carroll, titular bishop of Tipasa in Mauretania and Apostolic Vicar of Kontagor
- Rev. Dr. Patrick Devine SMA, founder of the Shalom Centre for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation in Kenya
- Bishop Patrick Kelly SMA, Bishop of Benin City
- Bishop WIlliam Mahony SMA, Bishop of Roman Catholic Diocese of Ilorin,
- Bishop John Moore SMA, Bishop of Bauchi
- Bishop Kieran O'Reilly SMA, Archbishop of Monrovia, Liberia and Bishop of Killaloe, Ireland
- Bishop Leo Hale Taylor SMA, American born, educated in Cork, served as Vicars Apostolic of Western Nigeria (Roman rite)
- IN A WORD A MONTHLY PUBLICATION FOR AND ABOUT AFRICAN AMERICAN CATHOLICS Archived 2008-10-07 at the Wayback Machine
- US Province: Our History
- Darley Dale, Francesca Maria Steele (1903). Monasteries and Religious Houses of Great Britain and Ireland. Original from the New York Public Library: Benziger bros. pp. Page 209.
- Society of African Missions, Irish Province
- Cois Tine - Official Website
- Tales from 1919: The Society of African Missions by Kieran McCarthy, Cork Independent, February 14, 2019.
- History Blake Manor
- History Dromantine Conference Centre.
- SMA US Province
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