Meeting of SMAs of 20 to 40 years of Missionary priesthood


Our first meeting began with the lighting of the Pascal Candle by Father Antonio Porcellato on 3rd July on the Feast of Saint Thomas the Apostle. He welcomed each and every one of us.  Father Pierre Richaud, the house superior of 150 cours Gambetta gave us the history and the tradition of the Mother House in Lyon.

Antonio explained us the purpose of our coming together from different parts of the world and purpose of the sessions. Tom McNamara explained us the theme “Bridges and Confluence - Rivers of life. Our lives are like rivers beginning in the dark corner of our mothers’ womb. But the river has its own flow nourishing the lives of many. In the middle of the hall the painting of Mgr. Bresillac, the Pascal candle, the Word of God, the flower pot and a mirror are placed. They are surrounded by the rivers le Rhone and la Saone. As these rivers are male and female in each and every one of us there are masculine as well as feminine qualities are present.

The evening mass was presided by Father Antonio. Father Paul Quillet one of the organizers was the translator of the day. He reminded us the famous theological phrase of Ireneus that “the Glory of God is man fully alive”.

Click here for the photo album

4th July 2017.

Morning prayer was conducted by Tom. He made each participant to be aware of one’s own body including the breathing.

Sister Marie-Hélène Robert, NDA spoke on “the culture, an obstacle or chance for entering into relationship”.  Her input made us to realize that one is direct or indirect in his communication. Though each one is part and parcel of one’s culture he may have cultural shocks but he can ascend beyond one’s culture to see the goodness and beauty in others. There are symptoms of choc, causes and consequences but always there is remedy. Today we are living especially in our society with people of multicultural context.

Towards the end the participants went over into three groups to do the brain storming exercises.     

In the afternoon there was personal sharing of 6 members. Their life stories as well their mission stories were sacred and unique.

Walter Maccalli from Italian province worked in Ivory Coast for 13 years and afterwards in Angola for 13 years. The mission area where he works is big and to some of his mission stations he goes on foot for there are no roads. He finds joy working in a place of primary evangelization.

Gerard Timmermans was the manager of a super market before he joined the SMA. He was missionary in Zambia and now he is the Chaplin in Schipol Amsterdam Airport. Every day he comes across people of different religions and different languages. There are times he has to manage with sign languages to comfort the passengers who are anxious of their air travel and other disturbances. There are people who are destabilized when they lose contact with the mother earth. As a missionary he cares at the crossroads as Airport Chaplain in the Netherlands.

Giampiero Conti has sweet memories of his stay and learning English in Ireland. His missionary work in Lagos and Ivory Coast and mission animation in Italy give him joy and fulfillment in his life.

Wojciech Lula who worked in Belemboke, berberati diocesen has passionate love for the pigmies. 10 years of missionary work as formator, superior of PDF and missionary apostolate in Monasao made him to realize that there are not enough missionaries to serve the pigmies.


Malachi Flanagan coming from the farming background was responsible of the machineries of the farm. His mission in Nigeria and now his ministry as the provincial bursar explain that he is the missionary with all his heart.

Waclaw Crzempeck ordained in 1996 has served as missionary to pigmies, vocation animator, PDF superior, coordinator of African Mission centre in Poland. From 2015 onwards he works as seconded member to the British Prtovince.

Evening mass was presided by Father Paul Quillet. He shared his reflections by saying that God helps and gives us blessings to move on though we have difficulties and sometimes stuck up. While moving on we realize that we are greater than our problems. While sticking to our past we lose our future.

In the evening we went by Lyon City Boat and we admired the Rhone and Saone Rivers, and the city while enjoying delicious meal.

5th July 2017.

During the morning prayer Father Antonio Porcellato guided us to reflect over few passages of the Constitutions and Laws which speak of the charism of SMA and working for the most abandoned. Then there was personal sharing of 6 participants. Pascal shared his experiences in Bailleal. Lourdusamy Kanagarajan shared his mission in Chamugasa parish, diocese of Shinyanga and his experience in USA as fund raiser. Carlos from Argentina shared his commitment to the mission in Niger. Tom shared his experience as the General Secretary in Rome and now as the Archives in Cork. Francis Kalan felt pride in being the founder of the parish of Malya in the Archdiocese of Mwanza. Now he is the superior of the house in Strasbourg and chaplin of the Tamil community. Frank Wright left his marks in Jericho parish then as the Superior of the American province and now with the deaf people.

People have lived with people of different cultures, languages and confreres of different units of the Society. They shared that this experience is very enriching. There is caring and support of the older provinces. The sacrifice of those who lived and went before us is tremendous. In the sharing of everyone there was pride and joy being members of the Society of African Missions.

In the afternoon father George Fonteneau spoke of the life story of Brésillac.  He spoke of 923 letters that he wrote. In his sharing he made us to understand Brésillac life and his family which was loyal to the church and to the State. Affected by Revolution the family kept up the faith.

We went into three groups to discuss the 3 letters of Bresillac.

  1. The letter he wrote in May 1841 to his father Gaston:  Bresillac his fully aware of his obedience to his father and yet obeying God and fulfilling the will of God is to be given priority.
  2. The letter he wrote in April 1845.
  3. The letter he wrote in March 1857 to His Eminence Cardinal Barnabo. As a bishop without a diocese, as a pastor without the sheep he writes to Cardinal Barnabo. He was abandoned by the Missions Etrangers de Paris which was dear to him and yet he was not depressed, he was not discouraged instead he trusts in the loving providence of God. He was simple and determined to go over to Dahomey as the messenger of Good news. In this letter we see that he is Savvy.

The evening mass was presided by Father Carlos who celebrates his 25 years of missionary priesthood. Father Pascal who celebrates his Silver Jubilee of the priesthood this year led us in liturgical singing. During the homily Carlos stressed God’s fidelity in the past 25 years than his own fidelity as priest.

6th July 2017.

We went over to Fourvière and wondered at the Christian roots the city of Lyon has. We had our Holy Eucharistic celebrations where mgr. Bresillac consecrated his new born society under the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The mass was presided by Father Daniel Cardot the former Superior General of the Society of African missions. In his homily he explained us that he always had burning love for missions. After the mass we visited Loreto House which inspires. The house of Pauline -Marie Jaricot and the propagation of faith started by her motivate the visitors to participate in the missionary activity of the Church.

In the afternoon father François du PENHOAT spoke on the life and contribution as cofounder and superior General to the Society of African Missions. According to mgr. Bresillac he was the providential man.

Our visit to the Museum, guided by Father Paul tells us how our ancestors of the Society of African Missions are committed to the mission and their desire to make Africa known to the rest of the world. The missionaries gave everything for the Gospel that they proclaimed and the people whom they served in the continent of Africa.

07 July 2017.

Morning prayer was conducted by Gerard Timmermans. Though we have prayed “Our Father …”many a times in our lives, he made us to pray in our mother tongue. 

Antonio spoke of his view of SMA in 2017 as someone looking at it from Rome. The SMA which was few years back is not the same as today.

Tom spoke on

  1. A society who is becoming a family.
  2. A family united by its missionary charism.
  3. A charism implanted through different forms of mission.
  4. Formation for mission.

He also spoke of Stages of Group development. They are Forming, Storming, Norming and Reforming.

After the break we went for group discussion. In the afternoon we had plenary session facilitated by Tom.

Evening mass was presided by Gerard who celebrates his 26 years of priesthood. On this very day he celebrated his first mass 26 years back.

Francis Kalan SMA