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 Fachtna O’Driscoll 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:
The Irish Province of the SMA was founded in 1912. 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.
The Irish province was founded on the 15th May 1912 by Bishop Paul Pellet, SMA Superior General, and is based in Cork. 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. 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.
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.
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