The Society of St. Sulpice was founded in 1641 in Paris, France by Fr. Jean – Jacques Olier. This was during the period of serious reform and intense renewal for the Catholic Church in France. Olier believed that the reform and renewal of the Church in France would not be successful unless the priesthood was reformed and renewed. Near the end of 1641, he gathered a group of like-minded diocesan priests and established a seminary adjacent to the church of Saint -Sulpice and this group became known as the Society of the Priests of Saint Sulpice.
The Sulpicians are found in five continents and divided in three provinces: French province, Canadian province, and American province. The Zambian region falls under the American province and has presence in all Zambian diocesan seminaries beginning 1989, St. Anthony major seminary – Kachebere Malawi – 2018 and also, runs the formation house for students studying at St. Bonaventure college in Makeni – Lusaka from Gaborone diocese – Botswana since 2020 August.
Fr. Olier’s fundamental vision for formation is that the seminary community is to share one rule of life. The seminary is to be a single community of formators and seminarians in which the seminarians are invited into the life of the priests, to live with them and to live like them. What matters most in the Sulpician seminary is communicated in the formative relationship of life lived in common. Therefore, Sulpician life is dedicated to serving the renewal of the Church by promoting excellence in the formation of diocesan priests.
Honoring this long-standing missionary tradition, the American province of the Sulpicians came to Zambia under the guidance of Cardinal Josef Tomko, prefect of the Congregation for the Propagation of Faith then (1988), to beef up stability in the Zambian diocesan seminaries. Bishop Telesphore Mpundu, bishop director of seminaries by then facilitated the arrival of the Sulpicians in Zambia.