The Institute of Social Ministry was founded in May 1994 by Fr. Francesco Pierli, a Comboni Missionary. The inspiration of the Institute was the need for transformation in Africa. The 1990s 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, ISMM started its programmes concurrently with the first democratic elections that were held in South Africa and the celebration of the first African Synod. Among the greater challenges of the synod 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, between faith and social responsibility, promoting human rights, justice and peace, the common good, equality and inclusion. Though ISMM is guided by the Catholic tradition, students from different faiths and denominations are encouraged and accompanied to personalize their studies by elaborating on the social dimension of their own faith tradition.


The Institute is a centre of excellence and innovation for transformative ministerial learning and social transformation. ISMM educates and trains agents of social transformation to discover their personal and communitarian calling. They contribute with passion, creativity, initiative, integrity, and professional competence to a society where human dignity is cherished and development is understood as a process to realize the full potential of human life and social justice.


The mission of ISMM is to offer high standards of education that unlock the potential of every learner to become a life changing agent in the society. ISMM programmes offer learners opportunities for growth and spiritual guidance that contribute towards their welfare, acquiring knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary for social transformation in the community. Programmes focus on human dignity, social justice, advocacy, research and development, providing the learners with the methodology, competences, and operational tools for facilitating them.

Philosophy of the ISM

Inspired by the Christian faith, ISMM trusts in the potential of human beings to transform the world to achieve dignified conditions of life with respect of the common good through scientific competence, spirituality, ethics, environmental conservation, collaboration and networking.