|The Society of the Sacred
Mission is an
community working in England, Japan, Australia, South Africa and
The Society began in London in 1883, the brainchild of
Herbert Hamilton Kelly. It's initial purpose was to train men for the
Korean mission, as it was then known. But its real mission turned out to
be the training of men for the priesthood in England and overseas who
would not otherwise have been accepted.
Within a few years, the Society and its college had
grown and moved to Kelham Hall [top] where by 1960 it had about 80
students. The College's chapel at Kelham was famous for two things : the
UK's largest concrete dome of the time (1928) and the Jagger Rood
[left]. Falling numbers closed the Kelham College in 1973. By then it
had produced about 3 500 men to serve.
In time, the Society's training work extended to the
the founding of a large theological college in Adelaide, Australia,
which has also since closed. Today some ten members still serve in two priories of the Society
in Australia - one in Melbourne and one in Adelaide. A single brother lives
and works in Japan, the priory there having closed some years ago.
Meanwhile the Society had expanded its work to South
Africa and Lesotho, where its members developed Christian centres,
schools and a teacher training college. Much of its schooling work there
ceased with the introduction in 1954 of the Bantu Education Act by the
then National Party government.
Today there is a small but thriving priory in Maseru
[left], the capital of the independent country of Lesotho. Its young
members engage in education, service of a small leper community and
ministries to street children and HIV/AIDS victims. Some of its number
are training for the priesthood.
In South Africa, Michael Lapsley [left] heads the
unique Institute for the Healing of
Memories. Michael was himself badly
wounded by a letter bomb during his time as a chaplain to the African
National Congress. His work now focuses on helping those scarred by the
struggle in South Africa during the Apartheid days before 1994.
But he has also conducted workshops in other areas recovering from
strife, such as East Timor and Rwanda.
In 1998 the Society started a new project at its
priory in Durham, England. Situated in the poorer north-east of the
country, the Ecumenical Spirituality Project at St Antony's Priory is
intended to help meet a need amongst people of all faiths and
persuasions for prayer, meditation and spiritual growth in general.
A large part of the Priory's ministry involves
hospitality at quiet days and other functions [left]. The Project is
funded in part by the Society (a registered charity) and partly by
Members of the Society also work in Oxford and Milton Keynes.
at Willen is a project of the Society and the Willen Priory nearby
[left] houses members of the Society.
The three provinces of the Society - Europe, Australia and Southern
Africa - are autonomous but closely linked.