Sr. Jecinter Antoinette Okoth, FSSA
As Quebec Foreign Mission Society (SME) marks its centennial year, members and associates of the Society have expressed gratitude to God for the years of service and growth which dates back to February 2, 1921 when the seed of the Society was planted.
The SME is an international missionary Society comprising of priests and lay associates founded in Canada and has spread to nine countries across the globe including Kenya.
Speaking to AMECEA online in an interview Thursday, February 4, Fr. Paul Too a formator based in Kenya said, “We have marked our foundation day and this is a great achievement for us. We thank God for the Society’s history, we thank God for the 100 years of service and for enabling us to be part of that history.”
“Indeed we thank God for those who established the Society and now we are part of it. Through them we can trace our history as we mark these many years of service,” the cleric who hails from Kenya’s Kericho Diocese recounts during the Thursday interview.
According to Fr. Too, even though SME community in Kenya marked its founding day on Tuesday, February 2, the main celebration of the centenary has been rescheduled to April, a decision influenced by Covid-19 situation in the country.
Fr. Too appreciated the presence of the Lay Missionaries in the Society whose services are quite significant in helping the priests realize their mission in the Church.
“When Vatican 11 opened the door for lay Christians to participate in evangelization and missionary work, our Society took that advantage and welcomed families and even couples into our community,” the cleric said and continued, “These lay associates were then incorporated in the Society so they could go to places where the priests themselves are not able to reach. At the same time, some Christians interact better with lay people than with the ordained priests.”
The year-long centenary celebration of SME has been themed, “To run the risk of the encounter at the service of the Gospel 1921-2021.”
Sharing with AMECEA online the role of lay associates in the Society, the Assistant local Superior Ms. Fany Soveida Moradel Zapata who is one of the lay associates disclosed that “Lay missionaries share leadership with the priests and help promote the mission of the society.”
The Kenya-based Honduran who is part of the formation team in Kenya narrates further that the lay associates who are full time with the priests liaise also with the friends of Quebec to continue supporting the mission work of the Society as they evangelize to the marginalized and accompany the people of God in all corners of the world.
Currently SME has approximately 100 friends of Quebec and 27 lay missionaries in the Society with none from Africa.
According to Fr. Bernard Mukeku Mutisya a member of the Society, the year-long celebration will be marked with various activities where “Every Quebec Missionary community will organize an event of awareness creation about the Society with the Local Churches where we serve.”
Besides, “We will have an activity with the friends of Quebec and each country will have its own day of celebration,” the cleric who has been serving in Namanga in Kenya’s Ngong diocese and is to move to Cambodia told AMECEA Online.
Fr. Mukeku who has served as a priest for nearly two years appreciated the achievements of the Society especially since the establishment of the community in Kenya 20 years ago that was aimed to be formation house for students.
“We have been empowering the local Church in leadership and transformation so the people can act responsibly. We worked in Ngong diocese for eight years before we closed the place last year and education was our priority,” he underscored and continued, “At the same time our students also work with the youths in parishes and in the slums.”
Addressing members of the Society in the Institution’s website published on the occasion of the centenary, the Superior General Fr. Roland Laneuville noted, “To be a hundred years old for a person is a real event. Reaching a first centennial for a missionary society, it is short, but it deserves to be highlighted as a humble contribution to the spreading of the Gospel in the world.”
He added, “Determined to remain witnesses and living presences of the Gospel, today and tomorrow, we remain available to the Spirit who inspires our missionary impetus and directs us towards more tele- mission.”