In the footsteps of Brésillac and Planque – SMA-OLA Seminar, Rome

The following article is courtesy of William Brown, OLA Communications Officer 

Looking at the past to help inform the present: Joint SMA-OLA commission holds three day seminar in Rome with focus on common spiritual heritage from early years of both Institutes.

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Bishop de Brésillac (left) and Fr.Planque. Images courtesy of

A three day seminar commenced on Thursday, 17 November 2016, at the SMA Generalate in Rome. The purpose of the gathering is to reflect on how the SMA and OLA Institutes developed from their foundation to the year 1920, with a view to informing present day issues. The commission is made up of thirty six SMA Fathers and OLA Sisters from across the world, including Sr. Patricia Mc Menamin from the OLA Province of Ireland.

The commission held their inaugural meeting earlier this year at which five themes were identified. The themes include Mission Ad Extra – particularly in Africa, gift of self for mission, SMA-OLA one mission, family spirit and empowerment.

The commission are reviewing many early documents penned by Bishop de Brésillac and Fr. Planque.

A spokesperson for the commission remarked that the five chosen themes represent challenges faced by SMA and OLA missionaries in today’s world:

“These five aspects of our missionary life are challenging us today, in a context where the sociological and religious situation of Europe and Africa have reversed compared to the nineteenth century which saw the foundations of our Institutes.”

The spokesperson continued:

“Both Institutes have already produced publications and studies on their history and missionary charism, but the novelty of this initiative is that the seminar is being held together.

The SMA was founded by Bishop de Brésillac in December 1856. Less than three years later he died of Yellow Fever while on mission in Sierra Leone. Fr. Planque succeeded him as co-founder and first Superior General. Fr. Planque founded the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Apostles (OLA) in 1876. 

Commission proceedings may be followed live (while in session) by clicking here. A recording of yesterday’s seminar is available here.

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