Society of African Missions

The Society of African Missions (Latin: Societas Missionum ad Afros) is a Roman Catholic society of apostolic life of Pontifical Right for men (missionaries)[9] Members add the nominal letters S.M.A after their names to indicate membership in the Congregation. They come from around the world with a commitment to serve the people of Africa and those of African descent. Fr. Antonio Porcellato is the current superior general. S.M.A.

Society of African Missions
Societas Missionum ad Afros (Latin)[1]
Melchior de Marion Brésillac.jpg
Melchior de Marion Brésillac, Founder of the Society of African Missions
AbbreviationS.M.A (post-nominal letters) [2]
Formation8 December 1856; 165 years ago (1856-12-08)[3]
FounderVenerable Bishop Melchior-Marie-Joseph Marion de Brésillac, S.M.A.[4]
Founded atLyons, France
TypeSociety of Apostolic Life of Pontifical Right (for Men)[5]
Via della Nocetta 111, 00164 [[Rome, Italy[6]]]
935 members (758 priests) as of 2018[7]
Superior General
Fr. Antonio Porcellato, SMA[8]
Missionary work
Parent organization
Roman Catholic Church


The Society was founded in 1856 by Bishop Melchior de Marion Brésillac with the blessing of Pope Pius IX.[10][11] The post-nominal initials S.M.A is the acronym of the Society's name in Latin: Societas Missionum ad Afros.[12]


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.[citation needed]


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:

Superior Generals of the Society of African MissionsEdit

  • 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)Edit

The Irish Province of the SMA was founded in 1912 as a separate 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.[13] 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 ProvinceEdit

  • 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 MissionsEdit

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.[14]

The Irish province was officially founded on 15 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.[15] 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,[16] 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)Edit

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.[17] Members of the Society have served in Africa and in the US.

Notable Members of the Society of African MissionsEdit

  • 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)

See alsoEdit

French missionary from the Society of African Missions in Dahomey (1930).


  1. ^ "Society of African Missions (S.M.A.)".
  2. ^ "Society of African Missions (S.M.A.)".
  3. ^ "Society of African Missions (S.M.A.)".
  4. ^ "Society of African Missions (S.M.A.)".
  5. ^ "Society of African Missions (S.M.A.)".
  6. ^ "Society of African Missions (S.M.A.)".
  7. ^ "Society of African Missions (S.M.A.)".
  8. ^ "Society of African Missions (S.M.A.)".
  10. ^ US Province: Our History
  11. ^ Darley Dale, Francesca Maria Steele (1903). Monasteries and Religious Houses of Great Britain and Ireland. Original from the New York Public Library: Benziger bros. p. 209.
  12. ^ Society of African Missions, Irish Province
  13. ^ Cois Tine - Official Website
  14. ^ Tales from 1919: The Society of African Missions by Kieran McCarthy, Cork Independent, February 14, 2019.
  15. ^ History Blake Manor
  16. ^ History Dromantine Conference Centre.
  17. ^ SMA US Province

External linksEdit