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JUNE - JULY 2016 Newsletter

30th anniversary

FATHER Edward Gomez and Fr David Jimoh Jarju have recently celebrated their thirtieth priestly anniversaries. Fr Edu, fellow-priests and many well-wishers came together on Sunday 17th April for a Mass of Thanksgiving at the Church of the Resurrection, Brikama. Fr Jarju similarly celebrated at St Martin’s Kartong on Saturday 30th April.

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Rejoicing at Bishop Ellison’s tenth anniversary

ON St Matthias’ Day ten years ago, Fr Robert Patrick Ellison CSSp was episcopally ordained at the Independence Stadium as Third
Bishop of Banjul. A week later, Bishop Ellison was solemnly enthroned in his Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, Banjul. The landmark tenth anniversary was celebrated at a Mass of Thanksgiving at Holy Family Church Fajara on Friday 20th May, followed by a reception at Shalom Retreat Centre....

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Papal Nuncio visits

THE PAPAL Nuncio, Archbishop Miroslaw Adamczyk, visited the Diocese of Banjul from Thursday 5th to Sunday 9th June. The archbishop
is based in Monrovia. He was appointed Nuncio to Liberia, Sierra Leone and The Gambia by Pope Benedict VI in February 2013, and episcopally ordained two months later. He presented his letters of credence to President Jammeh on Monday 4th November 2013.

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APRIL - MAY 2016 Newsletter

30 fruitful years in the Priesthood

TWO priests of the Diocese of Banjul are about to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their ordination. Fr Edward Gomez and Fr David Jimoh Jarju were ordained within a fortnight of each other in April 1986 by Bishop Michael Cleary: Fr Gomez at Banjul, and Fr Jarju at Kartong. The year before they had been

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National Day of Prayer at Bakau

AN ECUMENICAL National Day of Prayer called by the Gambia Christian Council took the form of a rally on Saturday 4th March at the handball court of the Independence Stadium, Bakau. Leading prayers and giving exhortations were the Bishop of the Methodist Church in The Gambia, the Rt Revd Hannah C.

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The Church's birthday

PENTECOST - Penticosti in Greek - means ‘fiftieth day’. The ancient Jewish festival of Pentecost was the ‘Feast of Weeks’ at the
end of grain harvest, 50 days after Passover. Exodus 34:22 says, ‘You shall observe the feast of weeks, the first fruits of the harvest.’ Over time, the Jews came to celebrate Pentecost not only to give thanks for the harvest but to commemorate the day when God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses. This day, the Jews assert, celebrates the

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FEBRUARY - MARCH 2016 Newsletter

Our Catechists: throughout the land, emissaries of the Gospel

THE CATECHISTS of the diocese from all parts of the country gathered at GPI on Sunday 10th January for their annual retreat and workshop. The Monday to Wednesday retreat was led by Fr Victor Ndecky. The workshop, on Thursday and Friday, was led by Fr Tanislas Ndecky

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Kunkujang pilgrimage initiates Holy Year of Mercy

Thousands of Catholics and other Christians and many Muslims journeyed to Kunkujang Mariama on Saturday 5th
December for the pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady Queen of Peace. In his homily, Bishop Robert Ellison pointed out that the pilgrimage to Kunkujang Mariama opened the Holy Year of Mercy three days ahead of the Pope. We were also celebrating the Immaculate Conception, reminding us that God has

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Francis tells Kenya’s priests: without prayer a person becomes a ‘dried fig’

DURING his visit to Kenya in late November, Pope Francis told an audience of priests, religious and seminarians that without prayer
a person becomes ‘as ugly as a dried fig’. The Pope was welcomed with cheers. He set aside his prepared text and instead reflected on the importance of priests and religious, stressing that the Lord had called them to serve, and that service is what their lives must be about.

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DECEMBER 2015 - JANUARY 2016 Newsletter

Presentation family welcomes new sisters

TWO young Gambians took their first vows as Novices of the Presentation of Mary Sisters at a joyful Mass celebrated by Fr Moses Drammeh on Saturday 21st October, Feast of the Presentation of Mary. The new Sisters are Marie Gibba and Marie Louise Moussa, both from the Parish of the Resurrection, Brikama.

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No Advent, no real Christmas!

why a truly happy Christmas depends on a thoughtful and fruitful Advent ADVENT (in Latin, adventus) refers to the
'coming' or 'arrival' of Christ in the flesh at Christmas, and his Second Coming on the Day of Judgment. Advent is a season rich in themes and symbols. We meditate on
• the Old Testament prophecies concerning the coming of Christ
• the need for repentance, as preached by Christ’s forerunner, John the Baptist

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The message of Bishop RoBERT P. EllisoN or the Pastoral Year 2015-2016

OUR new Pastoral Year begins in the shadow of Pope Francis’ visit to the USA. It was a very intense week; as he spoke in Washington
to the US Congress and then a day later to the UN, where some 127 leaders from the whole world attended. The topic of his talks: his profound concern for the future of the world in which we all live. We stand at a critical moment in the history of planet Earth when the...

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OCTOBER - NOVEMBER 2015 Newsletter

Pope and President at the Vatican in 2014

PRESIDENT Obama has the most Twitter followers, but Pope Francis’s @Pontifex is more influential: his average ‘retweet’ and ‘favourite’ rate is more than eight times higher than Mr Obama’s, according to the annual ‘Twiplomacy Study’ by the public relations firm, Burson Marsteller. The study says that @BarackObama tweets are on average only retweeted 1,210 times, adding that, by this standard, Pope Francis - @Pontifex - is by far the most influential tweeter with 9,929 retweets for every tweet he sends on his Spanish account and 7,527 retweets on average on his English account. Pope Francis was....

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‘synod will uphold Christ’s teaching’

THE VATICAN’S Secretary of State has assured the faithful that all the bishops attending the Synodon the Family are
agreed they proclaim the Christian doctrine of marriage, founded on the teaching of Jesus. Cardinal Pietro Parolin told the Belgian Christian weekly ‘Tertio’: ‘It is true that pastors can sometimes have differing opinions on single pastoral issues, but this really shows that the Church is a living institution.’ He added: ‘The presence of the Pope is a guarantee for all and the safeguard of the faith.’
Healing wounds
The Cardinal continued: ‘We are all agreed on the essential: that it is necessary, with courage, to proclaim the Christian doctrine of marriage, founded

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Bishop Cleary celebrateshis ninetieth birthday

ON Tuesday 1st September, Bishop Emeritus Michael Cleary celebrated his ninetieth birthday. It was as recently as
March this year that Bishop Cleary said a fond, final farewell to The Gambia, having spent sixty- two years here as teacher, Principal and Bishop. Before leaving, Bishop Cleary said, ‘As Bishop, I travelled throughout the country and got to know it well and love its people. Otherwise, I would not have stayed. I made many close friends here, both Muslim and Christian. I wish to sincerely thank you for the best years of my life....’ When young Fr Michael Cleary first arrived in 1953, the small Catholic Mission - not then a diocese - was run by Irish missionaries. Now, the much more numerous Gambian Catholic faithful are

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AUGUST - SEPTEMBER 2015 Newsletter

Protecting children

AT the invitation of Bishop Robert Ellison, priests, religious sisters and lay people gathered at GPI on Friday 26th June to mark the end of the Pastoral Year. After registration, the day began with Lectio Divina led by the Vicar-General, Fr Emile Sambou. This being the Year of Consecrated Life, Bishop Ellison spoke on ‘The Prophetic Role of Religious’. Yadi Eribo Njie (pictured above) led a discussion on the Child Protection Policy of Diocese of Banjul, and proceedings concluded with lunch. Lectio Divina (Latin for ‘Divine Reading’) is a traditional Benedictine practice of scriptural reading, meditation and prayer intended to promote communion with God.

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father Sean says farewell

FATHER Seán Devereux, until recently Parish Priest at Our Lady of Fatima Bwiam, left the diocese on Tuesday 9th June.
This month - August - he takes up a permanent media post for the Diocese of Ferns in his native Ireland. Fr Seán was ordained in 1987. With the agreement of his bishop he came to serve in The Gambia in October 1999, helping to update and extend the radio and television studio (the Communications Unit) at GPI. When Fr Peter Lopez, (now Director of GPI) returned following a three-year media course in Italy, Fr Seán became Parish Priest at St Kizito’s Bakoteh, where he led parishioners in extending the church building and attracted new members to the congregation as well as initiating various community and educational projects.

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Let us promote dialogue

Let us, on our part, promote a spirit of inter-faith dialogue and harmony with our Muslim brothers and sisters, as Mary
would wish us to do. Inter-religious dialogue is most effective when it springs from the experience of living with each other from day to day within the same community and culture. Christians and Muslims have lived side by side for centuries, and a rich dialogue of life has gone on unceasingly. Every individual and every family knows moments of harmony - and other moments when dialogue has broken down. The positive experiences must strengthen our communities in the hope of peace; and the negative experiences should not be allowed to undermine that hope. For all the times that Muslims and Christians have offended one another, we need to..

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JUNE / JULY 2015 Newsletter

FIRST Holy Communion

A great day for the family, to which they’ve looked eagerly forward for months. The young candidate has been carefully prepared by the Church so that he or she understands what receiving the Lord in Holy Communion means. As the day nears, other preparations include the making of beautiful white clothing and arrangements for a family celebration: festive food and drink and lots of party music. Yes, it’s a big day: what the French call a rite de passage, a day which the family wants recorded in photographs and on video. Almost everyone enjoys a party. Hardly any family needs advice on the party side of First Communion, just as no one needs

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bishop Emeritus Michael cleary bids farewell

BISHOP-Emeritus Michael Joseph Cleary quietly said goodbye to The Gambia when on Saturday 14th March he left for Ireland
having spent nearly sixty-two years here as teacher, Principal, Vicar- General, Education Secretary, and (from 1981 to 2006) Bishop of Banjul. In a brief statement, Bishop Cleary said, ‘...in my 90th year, I feel I should live nearer hospital and nursing care and not be a burden here. ‘So I wish to sincerely thank you for the best years of my life. I now ask the Almighty to guide and protect you and your friends and families. ‘You will always be in my thoughts and prayers. ‘God love and bless you all.’ Farewell Mass The evening before his departure, Bishop Cleary took part in a Mass with Bishop Ellison and the priests of the

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Fr Matthias Murphy Unforgettable priest and teacher

FIVE years ago, on Corpus Christi Sunday - 6th June 2010 - Father Matthias Murphy announced to his congregation at Holy
Spirit Banjul that after more than thirty years as their Parish Priest he was about to retire, just as three years earlier, he had retired from teaching at St Augustine’s School. ‘I can’t believe it,’ was the comment of one long-standing regular at Holy Spirit. ‘When I think of this church I think of Fr Murphy. He’s always been here.’ Not quite. The first Parish Priest at Holy Spirit when it was opened in 1968 was Fr John Hogan, who was succeeded by Fr Michael Murray and Fr Frank Leahy. It was in 1975 that Fr Murphy became Parish Priest. He was to serve the church and parish for almost

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APRIL / MAY 2015 Newsletter

Fr Anthony Gabisi and Fr Peter Gomez celebrate 30 years as priests

The Gambia’s largest parish, St Therese’s Kanifing). Under Bishop Cleary, Fr Gomez served as Vicar-General for the western section of the diocese, while Fr Gomez, based in Soma, was Vicar-General of the eastern section. Fr Gomez punctuated his ministry in The Gambia for a while to study Liturgy at St Patrick’s College Carlo, in Ireland, and returned for further studies in Ireland in 2008, when he found the country much changed. Fr Gabisi spent two years at Port Harcourt, Nigeria, studying for a master’s degree.

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bishop Ellison attends installation of new Archbishop

BISHOP Robert Ellison and the Vicar-General of the Diocese of Banjul, Fr Emile Sambou, were present on 22nd February,
the First Sunday of Lent, at the enthronement in the Cathedral of Notre Dame des Victoires, Dakar, of the newly-appointed Archbishop of Dakar, the Most Revd Benjamin Ndiaye (pictured left). Archbishop Ndiaye was born in 1947 and ordained priest in 1977. He studied in Jerusalem and Paris. He became Bishop of Kaolack in June 2003, having been Vicar-General of the Archdiocese of Dakar. Last October, he took part in the Synod on the Family in Rome. Archbishop Ndiaye takes over as Archbishop of Dakar from Cardinal Théodore Adrien Sarr, who stepped down in December last year after

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Francis bids us not to forget the poor

IN his Lent message, Pope Francis warned against indifference to the poor.‘Usually, when we are healthy and comfortable,
we forget about others (which God the Father never does): we are unconcerned with their problems, their sufferings and the injustices they endure... our heart grows cold,’ he said. ‘As long as I am relatively healthy and comfortable, I don’t think about those less well-off. Today, this selfish attitude of indifference has taken on global proportions, to the extent that we can speak of a globalisation of indifference. It is a problem which we, as Christians, need to confront.’ He continued: ‘Indifference to our neighbour and to God also represents a real temptation for us Christians. Each year during Lent we need to hear once more

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FEBRUARY / MARCH 2015 Newsletter

What does the Catholic community ask of us, this Lent?

FOR many people, the season of Lent is a time when they put away their bad habits - only to go back to them
after Easter. During Lent, attendance at weekday Mass goes up, prayer meetings are well-attended, and people generally are more willing to help others. But Lent can subtly tempt us to tell ourselves lies, so as to feel virtuous. Suppose I attend Mass every day from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday? If I stop arguing with a certain person during Lent, perhaps it won’t matter what I say to that person at other times. Yes, in many ways I can tell myself, ‘I’m doing the right things during Lent, so it doesn’t matter so much what I

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Rejoice! Two new priests for the diocese

REJOICING at Lamin and throughout the diocese marked the priestly ordination by Bishop Robert Ellison on Saturday
24th January of two young Gambian deacons, James Mendy and Tanislas Ndecky. The ordination, followed by the usual festivities, was held at St Peter’s Senior Technical Secondary School Lamin on the feast day of St Francis de Sales. The rite of ordination is what ‘makes’ a priest, having already been a deacon. The rite occurs within the Mass. After being called forward and presented to the assembly, the candidates, James Mendy and Tanlislas Ndecky, were questioned.

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Our nation’s fifty years of Independence

FIFTY years ago our country took its rightful place in the family of nations, and Wednesday 18th February is the Golden
Jubilee of Gambian Independence. In this country’s history as a sovereign state there have of course been ups and downs. But we can give hearty thanks that The Gambia has maintained its territorial integrity, social stability and its pride in nationhood. Gambians have a sense of ‘family’. This is something to which Catholics especially respond. We know that though we are important as individuals, we belong to the family of the nation, the Church and the world. In our country, Catholics are a minority, but we

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DECEMBER 2014 / JANUARY 2015 Newsletter

A beautiful time to rediscover God’s love

THIS YEAR, once again, I’ve had the opportunity of leading thirty-one Gambian pilgrims to the Holy Land
for our annual pilgrimage. We stayed in Bethlehem for seven days. For those making the pilgrimage for the first time, staying at the birthplace of Jesus was a dream come true. We celebrated one of our Sunday Masses at one of the oldest surviving churches in the world: the Church of the Nativity, near the place where it is believed that Mary gave birth to Jesus. Around 160 AD, Justin Martyr wrote that Jesus had been born in a cave in this part of Bethlehem. We used the Christmas Day readings and sang carols.

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Rejoicing as four young Gambians make their first profession

FOUR young Gambians made their first profession of vows as Sisters of the Presentation of Mary at a joyful Eucharist
for our annual pilgrimage. We stayed in Bethlehem for seven days. For those making the pilgrimage for the first time, staying at the birthplace of Jesus was a dream come true. We celebrated one of our Sunday Masses at one of the oldest surviving churches in the world: the Church of the Nativity, near the place where it is believed that Mary gave birth to Jesus. Around 160 AD, Justin Martyr wrote that Jesus had been born in a cave

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Well done!
A message from Bishop ROBERT ELLISON on the Centenary Celebrations

THE CELEBRATIONS for the Centenary of our Cathedral have come and gone. For many of you it involved a lot of hard work and commitment, especially as we faced the final great climax of Sang Marie 2014. A special word of gratitude is due to the members of the Centenary Committee for the way in which they kept the process and the implementation of the various events moving right up to the end. For all of us it was a most memorable occasion due to the meticulous preparations of the committee as well as the exceptional attendance of our Catholic community across the entire diocese, along with other friends and visitors - despite the heavy rain with its

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