In the past, missionaries were sent out from “Home Provinces” (Europe, Canada, USA) to work in Africa. Now, with the increase in numbers of African missionaries, the provinces in Africa have become “Home Provinces”. Different countries were linked together to form these provinces and all the provinces are on an equal footing although each has its own character. A Missionary of Africa can be sent to work in any province and whilst working there, belongs to that province.
The Generalate in Rome
When the Missionaries of Africa were founded in 1868 the Generalate (also known as Mother House) was in Algeria. After Algerian Independence the Generalate (together with the body of Cardinal Lavigerie) was moved to Rome.
The Generalate is the centre of the Society in many ways. It is the largest community with 30 confreres or more at any given time and the confreres there have various activities.
First there is the General Council, composed of the Superior General (Fr. Stanislas Lubungo from Zambia), and his 4 councillors ( Fr Francis Barnes from UK, Fr. Didier Sawadogo from Burkina Faso, Fr. Martin Grenier from Canada and Fr. Ignatius Anipu from Ghana)
The Superior General is in overall charge of the Society. He and his 4 Assistants are elected for 6 years. The Assistants have specific areas of responsibility in the Society and travel around visiting confreres in the various Provinces, before coming back to Rome to share their experiences and news as a team.
Then there are the confreres who look after the necessary administrative functions (Secretariat, Translations, Archives, Media, Maintenance, etc.).
There are the confreres in Rome for further studies. Many are preparing for responsibilities in the Formation of future missionaries, but others are preparing for specialised ministries, e.g. Justice and Peace, Islamic Dialogue.
The community of PISAI (Pontifical Institute of Arabic and Islam) is also in Rome (in a separate house) and is dependant on the Generalate. Originally founded by the Missionaries of Africa, PISAI is a college dedicated to the study and teaching of Arabic and Dialogue with Muslims. Founded in Algeria (Manouba) it was brought to Rome when the Generalate moved there.