Saint Patrick’s Society for the Foreign Missions

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St. Patrick's Society for the Foreign Missions (Latin Societas Sancti Patritii pro Missionibus ad Exteros) is an Irish Roman Catholic society of apostolic life composed of missionary priests, sometimes known as the Kiltegan Fathers from its headquarters at Kiltegan, County Wicklow. Its members use the postnominal initials of S.P.S. The Latin motto of the Society is Caritas Christi Urget Nos (2 Corinthians 5:14) or, in English, Christ's love compels us.


The Kiltegan Fathers origins stem from an appeal by Bishop Joseph (Ignatius) Shanahan of the Holy Ghost Order, in 1920 to seminary students in Maynooth College for missionaries to Nigeria, Africa where he was Bishop, later that year Fr. Whitney accompanied Bishop Shanahan to Africa.

The Society was founded officially on St Patrick's Day, 17 March 1932 by Monsignor Patrick Whitney (1894 - 1942) at Kiltegan, County Wicklow, Ireland. Its original aim was the Christian evangelization of Nigeria. In 1951, the society expanded its missionary activities outside of Nigeria.[1]

In the 1950s they society expanded, building a new college in Kiltegan, and opening a House of Studies in Sutton House, Rochestown, Douglas in Cork, with seminarians attending lectures in University College Cork.

As of 2008, the society has 307 priests on four continents including the countries of Nigeria, Cameroon, Kenya, Malawi, South Sudan, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Uganda, Grenada, Brazil, the United States, Italy, England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

St. Patricks - High Park, Kiltegan[edit]

The Society moved to High Park, about 2km from Kiltegan Co. Wicklow the former home of the Westby family, and named it St. Patrick's. It had been donated by a catholic businessman John Hughes to Fr. Pat Whitney in 1929. Fr. Whitney took over the building in 1930. The High Park residence had been rebuilt after it had been damaged in the 1798 rebellion.


  • 1920 - Appeal by Bishop Joseph (Ignatius) Shanahan
  • 1929 - Donation of High Park, Kiltegan to Fr Whitney
  • 1932 - Formal Foundation
  • 1934 - Kiltegans take charge of Calibar when the Diocese was divided
  • 1951 - First Mission outside Nigeria was to Kenya
  • 1956 - Kiltegan Fathers took over Kitui, Kenya from the Holy Ghost Fathers
  • 1961 - First mission to Brazil
  • 1967 - Outbreak of the Nigerian Civil War
  • 1970 - Kiltegan Fathers went to West Indies
  • 1970 - Kiltegan Fathers went to Malawi
  • 1983 - Mission in South Sudan
  • 1989 - Seen Missions to Cameroon, South African and Zimbabwe
  • 1993 - Society first sought members from outside Ireland[2]
  • 1997 - Society opened houses of formation in East, West and Central Africa
  • 2015 - Headquarters moved to Nairobi, Kenya[3]

Abuse cases[edit]

In May 2011 allegations of sexual abuse by a member of the society in Africa were made on the RTÉ programme Prime Time Investigates.[4][5]

Jeremiah McGrath of the Kiltegan Fathers was convicted in Liverpool, England in May 2007 for facilitating abuse by a paedophile named Billy Adams. McGrath had given Adams £20,000 in 2005 and Adams had used the money to impress a 12-year-old girl whom he then raped over a six-month period. McGrath denied knowing about the abuse but admitted having a brief sexual relationship with Adams. His appeal in January 2008 was dismissed.[6]

In 2003 the society paid €325,000 for abuse committed by Fr. Peter Kennedy of the Kiltegan Fathers in 1982.[7]

Notable Members of the Society[edit]

Current Organisation[edit]

In 2014 St Patrick’s Missionary Society held a General Chapter meeting which elected a new leadership team In 2015 the society commenced moving its headquarters from Kiltegan in Ireland to Narobi in Kenya.[3] The Society produces the Africa - St. Patrick's Mission magazine.[9]


  1. ^ "History". St. Patrick's Missionary Society. Retrieved 2012-03-28. 
  2. ^ About Kiltegan Fathers UK
  3. ^ a b Kiltegans relocate to Africa due to lack of vocations by Cathal Barry, Irish Catholic, October 1st, 2015.
  4. ^ RTÉ News Archived from the original on May 27, 2011.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ "Morning Ireland: Regina Doherty discusses latest hearing into Portlaoise baby deaths". Morning Ireland. RTÉ News. Retrieved 2015-05-20. 
  6. ^ "Priest who helped groom child for sex loses appeal". Irish Independent. 2008-01-24. Retrieved 2009-04-08. 
  7. ^ Anita Guidera (3 September 2003). "Bishop is urged to tell all he knew of abuse case". Irish Independent. Retrieved 2015-05-20. 
  8. ^ Kiltegan Priest appointed Bishop in Brazil
  9. ^ Africa Magazine Facebook page

External links[edit]