Foundation of the SMA

church_19181856: The SMA was founded by Bishop Melchior de Marion Bresillac on 8 December 1856.
1858: Less than two years later, on 4 November 1858 the first SMA missionaries embarked in Marseille for Gorée and later Freetown in the Vicariate of Sierra Leone, the territory entrusted to the SMA. They were Louis Reymond, Jean-Baptiste Bresson and Brother Eugene. 1859: On 14 May, the Founder himself arrived accompanied by Louis Riocreux and Brother Gratien. Yellow fever, a deadly tropical disease, had broken out.

debresillac1859: June: On 2 June Fr Riocreux died aged 27. On 5 June Fr Bresson died aged 47. On 13 June Br Gratien died aged 29. On 25 June Bishop de Bressilac himself died aged 46. To complete the sacrifice, on 28 June Fr Reymond died aged 36. The ill Br Eugene was taken back to France by ship.
Back in France the devastating news reached the small group of SMA members led by Father Augustine Planque who succeeded de Bresillac as co-Founder and First Superior General.
During his years as Superior General (1859-1907) Mission territories were opened in Benin (1861), Nigeria (1863), Algeria (1865), Ghana (1879), Egypt (1874), South Africa (1874), Liberia (1906), Ivory Coast (1895).
He founded the Missionary Sisters of our Lady of Apostles, OLA, in 1876.
1877: Fr Francois Devoucoux came to Ireland in 1877 and established the SMA in 1878.1882:Fr Joseph Zimmermann succeeded him as Superior of the SMA development in Ireland.
1912: The Irish Province was founded in 1912. There have been 11 Provincial Superiors leading the Province.
4 Members of the Irish Province of the SMA have been Superiors General of the Society.
The fourth Irish Superior General, Fr Kieran O’Reilly SMA, was ordained Bishop of Killaloe, Ireland in August 2010. He is the first Irish SMA to serve as a Bishop outside of Africa. Read more here.
20 Members of the Irish Province have been called to serve the Church in Africa as Bishops, Vicars Apostolic and Prefects Apostolic.
Currently there are 201 members of the Irish Province (4 bishops, 194 priests and 3 brothers).
The Father Kevin Carroll Collection of African Photographs is an important record of the life of the people and the work of the SMA in Nigeria … see here.

“Sons of Bresillac, go forward! Africa has great need of you”.
John Paul II, 1983.

We sit on the shoulders of giants

8 December last was the 160th anniversary of the foundation of the Society of African Missions by Bishop Marion deBrésillac at the Basilica dedicated to Our Lady of Fourvière in Lyons, France. Each year, we SMAs remember this event with Thanksgiving Masses in our different communities throughout the world. Emeritus Bishop Tim Carroll SMA, first...


St Joseph’s Cemetery, Cork

St Joseph’s Cemetery The Capuchins acquired the cemetery from the City Corporation to use it as a burial ground for those who died from cholera in the 1850’s. The Society purchased it from the Capuchins with money given by Mr Hinsworth. It is on Tory Top Road, Ballyphehane, Cork. The Cemetery Chapel, built during Fr...


Early years of the SMA in Ireland

Early years of the SMA in Ireland 1912  –  15 May  – 2012Centenary of the Foundation of the Irish Province of the Society of African Missions The Society of African Missions (SMA) was founded on 8 December 1856 in France by Bishop Melchior de Marion Brésillac. From then until 1912 the SMA, with members from several...


150 years in MidWest Nigeria

SMA 150th Anniversary Mass in Benin City On Saturday, 17 March, 2012, the Feast of St. Patrick (Secondary Patron of Nigeria) a special Anniversary Mass was celebrated at St. Andrew’s Church, Ugbighoko, Benin City. It was to recall and celebrate 150 years of SMA missionary endeavour in this part of the Lord’s vineyard. Our picture...


SMA History Extra

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 (1952-1968) Laurence Carr (1968-1976) Joseph Donnelly (1976-1978) Cornelius Murphy (1978-1989) John Quinlan (1989-2001) Fachtna O’Driscoll (2001- ) SUPERIORS GENERAL OF THE SMA FROM THE IRISH PROVINCE Maurice Slattery (1937-1947) Stephen Harrington (1947-1958)...

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