By: Irish Community News | Published Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 10:18 AM | Updated Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 10:18 AM
In 1943, the SMA Fathers were welcomed into the Archdiocese of Boston. The Latin initials: “SMA”- Societas Missionum ad Afros, is our official name but over these fifty something years, we fondly became known in Boston as the “SMA Fathers” or the “African Missions.”
The SMA beginning in 1856 was a rough one marked with tragedy and uncertainty. These men were enthusiastic priests who pioneered the West African territory not knowing what they would encounter; whether a hostile or welcoming people, perhaps the shock of a terrain they knew not and the limitations of a language barrier. Despite the difficult beginnings, the SMA survived and flourished. Today, the SMA Fathers have locations around the world with a little fewer than 1000 priests, along with some laypeople also serving on our missions in Africa.
For 157 years, the SMA Fathers have been providing both spiritual and practical care for those we serve, particularly the people who are most forgotten or abandoned. As Catholics, we proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of Africa. We bring the sacraments and the service of the Catholic Church to them. A major source of our work is to help establish and support local churches, local clergy, and local lay leadership at the mission. We support the African people and the Church in Africa as they struggle with political, economic, and spiritual challenges, but we also bear witness to what is good and beautiful in Africa.
The SMA Fathers serve as priests, who are multi-talented. We have been able to build churches and develop parishes. We have been building health care facilities, schools and providing training for various vocational skills including professional skills for women and the training of local religious leaders.
The SMA Fathers have been generously serving in many parishes in this diocese, as well as remaining a constant and tireless service to the growing church in Africa. Most of our work here is mission awareness and support seeking. I am sure many in the Boston area will recall the famous field days hosted by the SMA Fathers as fund raisers to help the missions promoted by legendary priests such as Frs. Hynes and Hill. These days, we host a spring Benefit Dance in the Irish Social Club in West Roxbury.
It has been through the overwhelming generosity of the Boston people that the SMA missions in Africa have developed so beautifully. It is through the prayers and financial support from the people of Boston that the lives of many Africans have been improved, and education has borne fruit with local teachers, doctors, priests and sisters. The SMA Fathers have 200 African priests today. It is through the generosity of the people of Boston that the SMA Fathers have been able to remain the success we are. We thank you for your continued support and generosity.