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Institute of Social Ministry in Mission (ISMM)


In May 1994, the Institute of Social Ministry was founded by Fr. Francesco Pierli, a Comboni Missionary who has worked in Africa as a Missionary for many years. The Comboni Missionaries are still fully involved in its running and growth. The inspiration of such an Institute was embedded in the following socio-cultural realities of Africa:
The time of transformation of Africa: The nineties marked the slow process of democratization of many African nations. This meant that grassroots people started owning their continent and facing the challenges of contributing to the global world. Symbolically, in 1994 ISMM started its programs, concurrently with the first democratic elections that were held in South Africa and the beginning of the African Renaissance.
The African Synod: In 1994 this synod took place in the wake of the tragic Rwandan genocide. Among the great challenges of the synod there was the appeal and resolution for a transformed society by the local Churches and the civil society, envisioning integral human development, justice and peace. 
The Jubilee 2000:  It expressed the link between faith and love of neighbour. Besides the traditional pilgrimage to the holy places and sacramental practices, the late Pope John Paul II encouraged all the faithful to obtain a plenary indulgence by making a ‘pilgrimage’ to the poor and the suffering. This meant visiting Christ in the poor, underscoring the link between faith and social responsibility. Moreover, the thrust for mission is not only concerned with the proclamation of the Gospel, but also with a movement toward the social dimension of evangelization. This has a focus on human rights, justice and peace, realities of social and structural sin and the development of the social teaching of the Church in dialogue of prayer and action with people of all faiths. 
The challenge and vision that comes out of this long history and within which ISMM is founded, is:

  • The regeneration (Renaissance) of Africa centered on its human, cultural, material and    generally local resources and its openness to the whole world.
  • The stress on the link between faith and social responsibility, and
  • The task of animating the Christian communities to play their role in the social mission of the African Church.

ISMM acknowledges the call for dialogue with the civil society, the state, regional and international bodies, and all faiths through ministerial commitment. Moreover, ISMM has been inspired by the option for the poor, a fundamental feature of the dynamics within the history of salvation. ISMM is guided by the Catholic tradition but all students are encouraged and accompanied to personalize their studies by elaborating on the social dimension of their own faith tradition. Students belonging to any religious Congregations, as well, are encouraged to elaborate on the social potential of their own charism.

ISMM trains Social Ministers, people who believe that God’s redeeming initiative invites human participation and commitment, who are called to side with the poor and marginalized in the promotion of human dignity, social justice and the common good, for which they are trained as catalysts and facilitators of awakening people’s and social conscience, community building, and structural transformation of the society and whose action is generated by an incarnated spirituality.