A Brief History of the Missionary Society of St. Paul in Nigeria and Ireland

As a Society of Apostolic life we were established on Mission Sunday 23rd October 1977 in Nigeria. We were founded by Late Dominic Cardinal Ekandem and established by the Catholic Bishop Conference of Nigeria. We have 283 msp priests working in 19 countries across the world and about 100 Seminarians in formation in our seminary in Nigeria. We often refer to the St Patrick’s Missionary Society as our Midwives ancestors in faith. The Kiltegan Fathers and The Missionary Society of St. Paul have some special relationship. Most of them worked in Nigeria and some of them helped out in the initial formation and growth of our Society especially Fr Jim Sheerin of blessed memory. In the past some msp priests came to study in Ireland under the scholarship of the Kiltegan Fathers and went back to Nigeria. Later, Bishop Hyacinth Egbebo msp made his first contact with ministry in Armagh Archdiocese in St Patrick’s Dundalk through his friendship with Fr Michael Murtagh during their studies in Dublin in (1992-95). Fr Antony Anike was the first msp to live and minister in Ardee while studying in Dublin (1998-99) when Canon Jimmy Clyne was Ardee parish priest. Since then msp priests have been ministering in Ardee-Collon parish till today. In 2006 Sean Cardinal Brady was invited to Nigeria to ordained 10 of our men priests. Bishop Leo O’Reilly of Kilmore diocese was also invited to ordain our priests in 1999 and also conferred ministries on our seminarians in Nigeria. In fact Bishop Leo is no stranger to msp. He taught many of us in our seminary in Nigeria and we know him well. Few msp priests also spent their sabbatical in Ireland including our present Superior General Very Rev. Fr Victor Onwukeme who served (2011-2012) in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh. Some msp priests usually come to Ireland for summer supply in some parishes in Ireland.

Fr Anselm Emechebe who came to Ardee in 2009 is the longest serving msp priest in Ireland where Canon Peter Murphy is the Parish Priest. Fr Magnus Ogbonna came to Dundalk in 2010. Fr Uduak Abara came from UK Region to Middle Killeavy (Newry) in 2013 in Armagh archdiocese. Recently, in 2015 four msp priests came to work in other dioceses at the invitation of the Diocesan Bishops. Frs. Peter Okpetu came to Cavan and Addison came to Shercock, both working in Kilmore diocese. Fr Lawrence Ebuk came to Kilbegnet working in Elphin diocese while Fr Joseph Okere came to Longford working in Ardagh and Clonmacnoise diocese. Fr Victor Samugana arrived in June 2017 to work in Elphin diocese and Fr Callistus Isara will be on sabbatical in Kilmore diocese from September 2017. At the moment we have eight msp priests working in four dioceses and one will be on sabbatical. Call it a reversed mission or a continuation of the mission, maybe! But I know the Holy Spirit is always at work in his Church. We are happy to reciprocate and continue to learn from the Irish Church. In line with the universal mission of the Church we are indeed a missionary society, for the missions and we go wherever we are needed. We thank God for the mutual partnership, acceptance and cooperation in ministry between the Missionary Society of St. Paul and our host dioceses and the local parishes where we work and witness as Ambassadors for Christ!

Fr Anselm Emechebe, msp

Mission Superior

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