Who we are
St Patricks’s Missionary Society – perhaps better known as the Kiltegan Fathers – celebrates its 75th anniversary, 17th March 2007. As it celebrates, the Society can look back on three quarters of a century of remarkable and varied missionary experience. From 1930 onwards, it assumed a pioneering role in Eastern Nigeria and twenty years later took on a similar role in the Highlands of Kenya. Later, the Society spread further within these two countries, and also reached out in an auxiliary role to Brazil, Malawi, Grenada, Zambia, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, South Africa and Rwanda. In these countries it augmented the work of other missionary groups and local clergies.
The Society consists of 312 priests who are predominantly Irish and about 70 students who are almost exclusively from Africa. At its highpoint, the Society had just under 400 members. However, its missionary strength was rendered considerably more effective by the presence of volunteer priests from Irish, English and Scottish dioceses who worked with the Society for short periods. Over the 75 years of its history the Society has facilitated 260 volunteer priests to do missionary work. This aspect of its missionary service continues today and benefits from a number of volunteers from African Dioceses.
In 1993, the Society decided to internationalise. It had not sought local vocations up to then, as it was keen to establish a strong diocesan clergy first. Now a new phase has come when the Society offers local churches the opportunity to become missionary. The first four African members were ordained in 2007. It is a fitting marker for the 75th celebrations.