, 11 December, 2019 / 12:26 AM
As missionaries belonging to the Society of African Missions (SMA) in Ghana launched, Sunday, December 8, their yearlong celebration to mark 140 years since the arrival of their first members in the West African nation and the official unveiling of the new SMA-Ghana Province, previously a Regional circumscription, leaders in the Society of Apostolic Life have expressed their joy and termed it a moment for the members of the congregation to reflect on their missionary work.
“We think that celebrating this elevation and at the same time launching 140th anniversary of SMA presence in Ghana is going to motivate us and therefore put us ahead that we have reached a point of maturity,” the immediate former Regional Superior of SMA in Ghana Fr. James Yeboah told ACI Africa in an interview.
“It is an opportune time to honor the past, celebrate the present and plan for the future,” Fr Yeboah added in reference to the December 8 event, which coincided with the celebration of the founding of the Society of Apostolic Life by Bishop Melchior Marion de Brésillac in 1856.
“It is also the time to appreciate our forefathers for the wonderful work then we take up from them the commitment, the sacrifice that they made and we emulate such then forge ahead,” Fr Yeboah said.
Acknowledging that realities have changed since May 18, 1880 when SMA Priests, Auguste Moreau and Eugene Morat arrived in Gold Coast, as Ghana was previously known, Fr. Yeboah said the jubilee celebration “is also a time to look into our state of evangelization, most especially approach to evangelization in our new world of the 21st century.”
“We live in the 21st century and realities are different so our mission today as we are launching the 140 years’ celebration means that there will be a new era of evangelization in Ghana,” he said.
At the Sunday celebration presided over by the Archbishop Emeritus of Kumasi, Peter Akwasi Sarpong, the new SMA-Ghana Province, elevated from a Regional circumscription in May 2019, was officially unveiled.
“The SMA-Ghana Province today, rededicates itself to a new missionary outreach. We aim to become the missionaries’ swords of the Church in Ghana and contribute in shaping a new Ghanaian society,” the Provincial Superior of SMA–Ghana Province, Fr. Paul Ennin told the congregation of clergy, religious, and laity during the Sunday Holy Mass.
“By sharing our charism and expression of our founder we will contribute to making the Church in Ghana an outgoing Church,” Fr. Ennin added.
In an interview with the SMA Vocation’s Director in Ghana, Fr. Mark Gebe expressed joy over the elevation saying, “Being in the status of a province is a joy for us. So, it means the seed that was sown by the two first missionaries is actually bearing the positive fruit.”
However, he expressed his awareness of the challenges that come with such elevation saying, “To whom much is given, much is expected of that person,” and therefore, “being a province means we have a lot to do.”
Speaking to the desire to foster the mission of their Society established to evangelize countries in Africa by penetrating into the places on the continent where there is no missionary presence, Fr Gebe said, “We want a lot of people to join the SMA so that together we can respond favorably to the charism of the Society, which is proclaiming the good news in Africa, forming of the local churches and so on.”
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa