The Society of African Missions popularly known as the SMA Fathers is a Society of Apostolic life founded on the 8th of December 1856 in Lyon, France and was entrusted with the new Apostolic Vicariate of Sierra Leone in 1858. It was there that two priests and a brother left from in November 1858. Accompanied by two other missionaries, Bishop de Bresillac joined them on May 14, 1859, at the time when a severe epidemic of Yellow Fever was raging in Freetown (and all his confreres) on June 25, 1859, six weeks after his arrival.
The SMA being a clerical Society of Apostolic Life of Pontifical Right placed under the Jurisdiction of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, has purpose of responding to the missionary mission of the Church, especially among Africans and peoples of African descent. The arrival of the SMA Fathers in Ghana is synonymous to the history of the Catholic Church in Ghana. On 18th May1880 Fathers Auguste MOREAU and Eugene MORAT arrived in Elmina.
FORMATION OF THE LOCAL CLERGY The SMA has a unique charism of establishing a “local clergy”. By this expression we mean forming a diocesan clergy capable of running the affairs of its own Church. We have done this by opening seminaries to train priests (diocesan) for dioceses in Africa in fulfillment of the intention of the founder “Bishop Marion de Bresillac”. This explains why the SMA did not accept Africans into the Society until 1983 when the General Assembly of the SMA decided to accept the vocation of Africans. The decision to accept Africans was based on the fact that many places that the SMA evangelized were now well established with strong local clergy. So, mission accomplished in some sense.
So, on 29th September 1992, in the presence of then Superior General, Bishop Patrick Harrington, Fr Michael Adrie, the first African was ordained a priest at the Sacred Heart Parish in Winneba by Bishop Francis Lodonu, then Bishop of Keta-Ho diocese.
Though the beginning of the recruitment of the African or Black into the SMA met a lot of difficulties and challenges, it is well understood as the popular saying goes “the beginning of everything is not easy”, today SMA is blessed with over 300 African or Black SMA Priests with over 500 Seminarians scattered all over Africa for their formations.
We therefore invite the youth especially those who wish to be missionaries to join us. I can assure you just as Angel Gabriel assured Joseph “Don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife…” (Mt 1, 20), I will also boldly tell you not to be afraid of joining the Missionary Family of the Society of African Missions (SMA). You will never be disappointed and you will never regret it. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also in the prophets, wrote - Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathanael said to him, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, “Come and see” (John 1:45, 46). “Come and see” was Philips' invitation, it is the Lord's invitation and it is also the invitation of the Society of African Missions known in short as the SMA, to all those who wish and feel call by God to be missionaries: “Come and See” reminding you and I of the expression “seeing is believing.”
God does not ask us to believe without evidence. If one will “come see” Jesus through the pages of divine revelation he will believe, like Nathanael that Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God, the King of Israel. The door of the Society of African Missions is widely opened for you who has the desire to be a missionary, come and see Jesus Christ in the life of the most abandoned in Africa and of the African Origin.
By: REV. FR. MARK GEBE, SMA VOCATION DIRECTOR, GHANA PROVINCE