Society of African Missions, S.M.A

Is anyone familiar with the Society of African Missions, S.M.A.? I was unfamiliar with the S.M.A. until I was contacted by their Vocations Director a couple of days ago. I’ve done some preliminary research, and I am interested. I do not know anyone who has any experience or knowledge about them. I was wondering if anyone has any impressions or experiences with them that they would be willing to share. Given the obvious risks of potentially spending several years in Africa, I’d like to know more about them and the work that they do. Any additional information that could inform me about my potential fit with fellow S.M.A.s would be appreciated.

Hi, I’m sorry I don’t know much about them. I know they are also known as the " White Fathers" because of the color of their habit. They came to our parish more than once selling beautiful woodcarvings done by the natives.

They have a website with a list of the USA houses and vocation directors should you want to visit or get more information. All in all, I believe they are a devout group that follows all the Church rules.

Many years ago, I hear one of these Fathers speak during the Homily at Mass, as he was doing a fund-raising appeal. He was an incredibly inspiring man, not least because he’d achieved so much, but was so humble and unassuming with it.

He stressed the importance of living ‘for others’ and as his sermon went on, it became clear he and his fellow missionaries were so incredibly brave and selfless!

Life as a White Father sounded tough, but amazing, with the opportunity to make a big difference to people’s lives. I’ve heard hundreds of sermons and I think that was the most inspiring by far.

I do regular mission work in Tanzania. I just got back from a 3 week trip a few days ago.

I have had LOTS of interaction with SMA priests. A good friend of mine is an Irish SMA priest. He was recently transferred back to Ireland, as he is 79 and life in rural Tanzania is a bit harsh. Even so, he will be doing mission preaching in Europe now as his regular assignment, so he is not retired

Last week I had got to meet a French Canadian SMA priest. Great guy, he didn’t laugh too much at my very poor French. He has been working in Tanzania\Kenya for the last 20 years.

Yes there are risks in Africa, but it is most certainly do-able. I spend several weeks a year in rural Tanzania, and love every minute. Yes, it is hot there, with no air conditioning. Yes, you miss out on fast food and take-out Chinese. The food gets monotonous. (rice, beans, mango, bananas, greens, little meat)

But the people make up for it, I love them all to bits!!

The poverty in too many locations is simply crippling. The area where I go has a average family annual income of about $600.

So a lot of the work an SMA priest would do will be physical as well as spiritual. Helping to dig wells, so an outstation ( village too small to have a parish) has clean water year round. You will farm some of your own food, so you do not have spend limited parish funds on food. Your rectory will most likely have a single LED bulb, powered by a solar panel and car battery. It would very much be a life of service to the very poor. But it will be spiritually rich.

An SMA priest from Kenya is recently arrived in residence at my parish. I have not yet gotten to know him well – For instance, this morning was the first time I have seen him outside of vested for Mass.

He was wearing the most beautiful, colorful clerical shirt I have ever seen – It was batik, adire, or similar print in bright colors. I have not seen a patterned clerical shirt before – Absolutely not traditional western style, but undeniably intriguing!


Thank you for the Great Information. I appreciate it. If anyone else has experiences or information that they would like to share I would welcome it.

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