Spiritans have worked in Africa for over 150 years and have a notable reputation for their work.
As the Spiritans had inaugurated the modern missionary outreach to West Africa in the 1840s, so too they were the first Catholic mission in East Africa beginning in the 1860s in Zanzibar and then on the mainland, starting from Bagamoyo on the coast of the Indian Ocean. The Congregation of the Holy Spirit began with ransomed slaves, setting up trade schools and Christian villages. The Spiritans moved inland to evangelize the indigenous tribes, in what is now Tanzania and southern and coastal Kenya. Most of the original missionaries were Alsatians, from France and Germany. They spread out through German East Africa, until the First World War, when this area was transferred for administration to the British. This new colonial power wanted English-speaking missionaries, and so American Spiritans began going to East Africa in the 1920s. Again, First Evangelization melded into parochial ministry as people became Catholic Christians.
The Spiritans have been ministering in Tanzania since 1868 when the first missionaries started the mission in Bagamoyo which involved the creation a free colony to provide education and training for recently freed slave.
Spiritans first set foot on South African soil in 1878. As late as the 1940s, priests and brothers were held in prison camps in Pretoria. It was 1945 before the authorities lifted restrictions on helping the black population.
Dutch and American Spiritans came to Ethiopia in 1972 as a response to their call as a congregation of missionaries. Ethiopia had many separate tribes that had not yet been evangelized or heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Over the last few years, the Spiritans with in Kenya have launched into several new works: first evangelisation amongst the Pokot people, the re-opening of missions in the very difficult Garissa region, and pastoral work in the poor quarters of Nairobi.
In Uganda, the Spiritans are engaged in HIV/AIDS ministry, educating school drop out girls, educating deaf children and ministering the sick especially at Mulago Hospital. The experience we have acquired in ministering these marginalized people will be of great value wherever we will be called upon to do ministry.
The first Spiritans arrived in Eastern Nigeria in 1885 from the French Province. They were followed later in this region by the Irish confreres. The foundation of what is now the Province of Nigeria was laid in 1952 with the establishment of Holy Ghost Juniorate Ihiala in 1952.
The District of Ghana was started in 1971 by a group of Irish Spiritans who left Nigeria after the civil war. The District celebrated the silver jubilee of its presence in Ghana in 1996