DECEMBER 2020 - JANUARY 2021 Newsletter

Remarkable Gambian Priest Ordained in 1924

Joseph Charles Mendy was a Gambian Roman Catholic priest who served the Gambian Roman Catholic Church for eight years
(1924-1932) only; his career was cut short when he unexpectedly died during an operation, and was widely considered a saint by his contemporaries. However, there seem to be a universal opinion that, probably no priest in his country has set a finer example of personal holiness and selfless service than Fr. Joseph Charles Mendy, who was ordained ninety-six years ago in Bathurst, in what is now the Cathedral of our Lady of the Assumption...

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Profession of Sister Marianna Ndecky of the Parish of St. Josephine Bakihita Hann Marist, on 17 th October, 2020.
Final/Perpetual Vow of Sr. Marie Ellen Mendy of St. Joseph of Cluny Sisters held at the Blessed Sacrament Parish, Kanifing Estate on Saturday, 14 th November 2020 with the Bishop as the chief celebrant.

Sr. Harriet Mendy of the Presentation of Mary Sisters takes her Perpetual Vow. Religious life is a pure gift from God, and a grace that God has given to Sr. Harriet...

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The Catholic Relief Service (CRS) Gambia recently sponsored the manu- facturing of COVID-19 hand-washing equipment by the Gambia Technical Training Institute. The innovative product was launched on 16 October 2020. Catholic Relief Service have been working in the Gambia since 1964. They engage in different sectors in the country, such...

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OCTOBER-NOVEMBER 2020 Newsletter


Is President Barrow trying to marginalise Gambian Christians? This issue was clearly settled by
Christians when the nation was declared an Islamic State by the erstwhile leader. As it has come up again; this despicable act of marginalising christians will never be accepted in The Gambia! As Christians, we must continue to defend the democracy and human rights of all citizens of The Gambia irrespective of their religious or political affiliations. And, any government that tries to ...

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Death of Michael Joseph (Miko) Cleary C.S.Sp.
We regret to announce the death of Bishop Michael Cleary.
He died peacefully yesterday (Thursday, 3/09/2020) in Nazareth House, having celebrated his 95th birthday earlier this week. Born on 1st September 1925, Michael was the youngest of four children of Mary (née Flanagan) and John Cleary of Tulrahan, Ballyhaunis, Co. Mayo. His mother died days later and his father in 1929. Michael was raised in Castlebar by his maternal grandmother and his uncle and aunt. After attending St. Jarlath’s College in Tuam, Michael entered...

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Each of us is probably yearning for certain things from our pre-pandemic life, but there is one thing that just about everyone in the Catholic Church has in common; we miss going to Mass, either daily or Sunday Masses! Moreover, we are all concerned about helping our churches survive and even thrive during this critical time. Difficult times such as they are today, can have a major impact on church finances. It is a time that both our faith...

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Februray March 2020 Newsletter

The New Year Message of the Bishop of Banjul

'LENT' is a short word for the second-longest season in the Church’s calendar (the longest being Easter Time).
Beginning on February 26th, Lent lies before us once again, with all its challenges and opportunities. The prime challenge is to take our Christian faith more seriously. The prime opportunity is to celebrate Easter with greater joy than ever. During the roughly forty days of Lent, we are asked to fast (but only on two days). We are also asked to abstain from certain pleasures or foods, or to engage in good works and works of ...

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Lent: challenges and opportunities

'LENT' is a short word for the second-longest season in the Church’s calendar (the longest being Easter Time).
Beginning on February 26th, Lent lies before us once again, with all its challenges and opportunities. The prime challenge is to take our Christian faith more seriously. The prime opportunity is to celebrate Easter with greater joy than ever. During the roughly forty days of Lent, we are asked to fast (but only on two days). We are also asked to abstain from certain pleasures or foods, or to engage in good works and works of ...

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Pilgrimage of peace

ON Saturday 7th December great crowds of Gambian Catholics and many others gathered from across the country and beyond to Kunkujang Mariama in the Western Region. It was the 33rd national pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady Queen of Peace, the first having been held in 1987. The annual pilgrimage is held on the Saturday nearest to 8th December - the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. Origins At Pentecost every year since 1888 a ...

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December 2019 - January 2020 Newsletter


After the first pilgrimage, it was realised that extended facilities were needed. Bishop Cleary provided a D50,000 loan (a large sum in those days). Fr Sharpe designed seating around the altar, and local labour made lots of slabs. After three years or so, the Presentation Sisters identified a new site for the grotto. Youth groups used to arrive the evening before the pilgrimage. But their vigil

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Exhortation on the National Day of Prayer for Peace and Unity – 23rd November, 2019

Praying, Promoting, and Preserving Peace in The GambiaIN the third verse of the hymn God Gives His People Strength, we sing
God gives his people peace when sorrow fills us to brim and courage grows dim. He lays to rest our restlessness in him. God gives his people peace. God gives his people peace because our God is a God of peace and not a God of hatred, violence and war. He is the origin and source of the peace and order that exists

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Christmas Time

The colour for Christmastide is white or gold For the Feast of the Nativity, the Church provides four Masses: * Evening Mass of the Vigil (Christmas Eve, Tuesday, 24th December)
* Mass of Midnight
* Mass of the Dawn (early Christmas morning)
* Mass of the Day

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October - November 2019 Newsletter

Francis visits Mozambique, Madagascar and Mauritius

HUGE crowds welcomed Pope Francis to Mozambique on Wednesday 4th September as he began a six-day tour of three African countries. He was the first Pope to visit Mozambique since St John Paul II in 1988. After being greeted by President Filipe Nyusi, Pope Francis was whisked away in his popemobile as crowds waved placards reading

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Gambian Christian anniversaries October and November

ON 14th October 1934, Fr Thomas Gregory Jobe celebrated his first Mass in The Gambia. At the
Mass, Fr Jobe addressed the people in the vernacular. One of his colleagues, the English priest Fr Harold Whiteside, told the congregation: ‘Receive him with joy into your midst. He is of your soil, of your race, he understands your mentality, your language, your customs, better than any European priest can ever

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Rejoicing in the saints

ON All Saints Day, Catholics celebrate all the saints, known and unknown. Some saints have a particular feast day in the calendar - usually, the date of their death. But saints who have not been canonised - those who are in heaven, but whose sainthood is known only to God - have no particular feast day. In a special way, All Saints Day is their feast. All Saints Day arose out of the tradition of

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August - September 2019 Newsletter

Bishop Mendy ordains two deacons

THE MOST Revd Gabriel Mendy on Friday 19th July conducted his first ordinations as Bishop of Banjul when he admitted two young
Gambians, the Revd Etienne Colley and Richard René Mansal to the Order of Deacons. The Mass also marked the end of the Pastoral Year in the Diocese of Banjul. Etienne and Richard studied French in Zinguichor from 2014 to 2015, and pursued their priestly formation at the François Libermann Seminary, Dakar, from 2015 to 2019.

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Francis 'draws strength' from Benedict XVI

Pope Francis has said that his relationship with Benedict XVI gives him strength and reminds him of the living tradition of the Church. Speaking
on 2nd June on the papal flight from Romania, Francis said that each time he visits Pope Emeritus Benedict, he feels more ‘like family’. ‘Every time I go to visit him I feel like that; I take his hand and get him to talk. He speaks little, slowly, but with the same depth, as always - because Benedict's problem is his knees, not his head; he has a great lucidity, as...

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9th-grade schoolgirl wins national and international competition

A 9th-Grade pupil at St Peter’s Technical Junior Secondary School Lamin, 16-year-old Mama Ansel Sanyang, has won a national and international essay competition sponsored by the International Alliance of Catholic Knights. In a ceremony at the end of Mass at Holy Cross Church Brusubi on 9th June...

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June - July 2019 Newsletter

A great day for Jews - and for our beloved Church

PENTECOST – in Greek, Penticosti - 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. ...

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Benedict XVI: ‘The example of the Lord'

SOME years ago, at a question-and-answer session with Pope Benedict XVI, a priest asked: ‘More and more, the young
people who receive these sacraments (First Communion and Confirmation) prepare themselves well during catechetical sessions, but then don’t come to Sunday Mass.... Sometimes there’s a desire to say, “Just stay at home.” Instead, however, we go on as always and accept them, thinking that...

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The Shrine at Popenguine is 131 years old

TENS of thousands of Catholics and others, including a large contingent of Gambians, will converge on Monday10th June at the Shrine of our Lady at Popenguine, on Senegal’s Petite Côte, for the 131st annual pilgrimage. The pilgrims, many of them in organised groups of young people, will travel to...

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APRIL - MAY 2019 Newsletter

Weekend with St John Bosco

FRIDAY 31st January was the Feast of St John Bosco (pictured right), and the Salesian Fathers of Don Bosco based at Kunkujang led
a 'Weekend with St John Bosco' at St Augustine’s Senior Secondary School, Banjul, from Friday 1st to Sunday 3rd February. Around 200 young people gathered on Friday evening to register, and on Saturday took part in a varied programme of talks, discussions, games and a candle-light procession and rosary. After Mass at 6.30am on Saturday, Fr Peter Wojnarowsk SDB, leader of the...

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Blessed John Henry Newman

to be canonised POPE Francis has confirmed the authen-tication of a miracle attributed to Blessed John Henry Newman, a
19th-century English theologian and priest. The miracle which Pope Francis has authenticated occured when a pregnant woman suffering a haemorrhage asked Newman to pray for her; and the haemorrhage ceased immediately. The date for John Henry Newman’s canonisation - being listed as a Catholic saint - is yet to be announced. Newman was born in London in 1801....

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Palm Sunday Humility, love and redemption WE interpret the Old Testament by what has been revealed in the New Testament. Thus, today’s First Reading from Isaiah, applied to Christ, depicts him as a willing sufferer: ‘I did not hide my face from insult and spitting.’ Whenever Jesus spoke to his disciples about his forthcoming death they didn’t want to hear about it. We too,...

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FEBRUARY - MARCH 2019 Newsletter

Bishop Mendy’s First Anniversary

ON SUNDAY 3rd February Bishop Gabriel Mendy CSSp celebrates the first anniversary of his episcopal ordination. The news that the
Diocese of Banjul was to be led by its first Gambian Bishop had come from Rome on 30th November 2017 - St Andrew’s Day. Before a great congregation at the Independence Stadium Bakau on 3rd February last year, Dr Mendy became the Fourth Bishop of Banjul and the first Gambian to lead the Catholic Church in The Gambia. In a four-hour ceremony,...

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Pilgrims flock to Kunkujang Mariama

THOUSANDS of Catholics from all over The Gambia and beyond, together with other Christians, as well as many Muslims, converged on Kunkujang Mariama on Saturday 8th December for the annual national pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady Queen of Peace. It was the 32nd such pilgrimage, and the first to be led by Bishop Gabriel Mendy...

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presentation Sisters celebrate 50 years in The Gambia

THE PRESENTATION of Mary Sisters closed their Golden Jubilee celebrations on Saturday 28th December with a Vigil at St Therese’s Church Kanifing, and the following day with a Mass of Thanksgiving at which Bishop Mendy presided. The vigil included the recitation of the Rosary and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament...

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DECEMBER 2018 - JANUARY 2019 Newsletter

New Nuncio visits the Gambia

A DINNER in honour of Archbishop Dagoberto Campos- Salas, Papal Nuncio to The Gambia, was hosted by
Bishop Gabriel Mendy at GPI on Monday 19th November. The Nuncio comes from Costa Rica, and has served in Sudan, Chile, Sweden, Turkey and Mexico. He is also Nuncio to Liberia, to which he was assigned in July. Since 1537 Popes have sent nuncios to reside in the countries to which they are accredited. A nuncio represents the Catholic Church in the country or countries to which he is...

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Bishop Mendy’s warm welcome in Basse

BISHOP Gabriel Mendy was warmly received by elated crowds of Christians and Muslims on Friday 9th November when he arrived to pay his first visit as Bishop to Basse. That evening he attended a fund-raising concert in the Parish Hall, presented by the choir of St Joseph’s Church. The following morning Bishop Mendy met St Joseph’s Parish

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New impetus at Kunkujang Mariama

A NEW chapter in the ongoing story of the Shrine of Our Lady Queen of Peace at Kunkujang Mariama opened in October when three priests of the Order of Salesians of Don Bosco arrived to take charge of programmes at the shrine, particularly among young people. On Sunday 4th October, Fr Peter Wojnarowski, Fr Carlos Valdiviezo and ...

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OCTOBER - NOVEMBER 2018 Newsletter

Achieving holiness

DOES the Church still teach the doctrine of purgatory? This is a question often asked, because in homilies Catholics may seldom hear any mention of the
topic. Yes - purgatory is very much part of the Faith. Yet the doctrine may be considerably misunderstood by Protestants, and even by some Catholics. The Catechism of the Catholic Church has only three, but very important, paragraphs on purgatory. The first paragraph reads: 'All who die in God's...

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The Gambia and the First World War

ONE hundred years ago, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the Great War ended. Germany, beref of manpower and supplies
and faced with imminent invasion, signed an armistice with the Allies in a railway carriage outside Compiegne, in France. The First World War left nine million soldiers dead and 21 million wounded, with Germany, Russia, Austria-Hungary, France and Britain each losing nearly a million or more lives. In addition, at least...

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Do we really want to become saints?

1WHEN we do something wrong, or offend someone, we may say, ‘I know I’m no saint.’ This is probably all too true. But do we actually want to become a saint? Who, indeed, are the saints, so honoured by the Church? THE SAINTS are those throughout history and throughout the world who have striven to discern and...

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AUGUST - SEPTEMBER 2018 Newsletter

Presentation Girls Vocational School salutes departing students

ON Friday 6th July the Presentation Girl's Vocational School in Banjul held its 13th annual ceremony to mark the completion by 56 students of three
years’ training in the school’s departments of home management, commerce and hair-dressing. The ceremony, which included the award of certificates and prizes to outstanding students and teachers, was attended by the Deputy Mayor of Banjul, parents and relatives ...

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Local and worldwide rejoicing

SOME might say that in The Gambia we don't need to be reminded about Sang Marie. Banjul used to be known as St Mary's Island, and the title Kombo
St Mary is still in use. Moreover, our Cathedral and the Diocese of Banjul are dedicated to Mary, under her title, Our Lady of the Assumption. The Anglican Cathedral is also dedicated to Mary. Sang Marie became a public holiday in The Gambia in 1958. It was dropped as a holiday in 1976, but reinstated the following year. Referring to the ...

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Could church ruins in Albreda become a tourist attraction?
By George Gomez

Peter Lopez, Anthony Njie, Philip Saine, Dominic Mendy, Lamin Cham (Editor of the Standard newspaper) and myself visited Juffereh to talk to the elders in the neighbouring villages. We crossed in two vehicles on the 10.30 am ferry, and after a brief stop in Essau to present ...

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JUNE - JULY 2018 Newsletter

Jeun Esperance

TWENTY-SIX years ago, in February 1992, Pope St John Paul II visited Senegal and The Gambia. The founder of JeunEspérance,
Emilie Faye, afterwards joined a Catholic charismatic renewal group. On 12th February 1994 she held ‘A small meal for Jesus’, at which 100 young people met for a Bible quiz, praise and teaching, and to hear a call for conversion. They were reminded of the importance of confession, attendance at Sunday Mass (and weekday Mass, too), adoration of the...

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CRS Gambia Peace Building Training of Trainers

Introduction: Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Gambia completed a week-long training on the themes of peacebuilding and social cohesion. The need for such a training has risen out of the fact that Gambia is at a political crossroads. Over the past 22 years, Gambia has been under an authoritarian government,...

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Gambian Christian Anniversaries
June & July

TEN YEARS AGO. At the invitation of Bishop Robert Ellison, the Cardinal Archbishop of Dakar, the Most Revd Théodore-Adrian Sarr, visited the Diocese of Banjul from Thursday 5th to Sunday 8th June 2008. Great roadside crowds, Christian and Muslim, waved an...

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APRIL - MAY 2018 Newsletter

Farewell to Bishop Emeritus Robert Ellison

A MASS of thanksgiving for the episcopate of Bishop Emeritus Robert Patrick Ellison CSSp was celebrated at the Cathedral of the
Assumption Banjul on Saturday 10th March. In an address at the end of the Mass, the Vice Chairperson of the Cathedral Parish Council, Albino Jatta, said: ‘It is good to give thanks and praise to God ... and today we have just done that in appreciation to God for the life, health and strength of Bishop Ellison:..

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President Barrow's message

PRESIDENT Adama Barrow has expressed the prayer that the ordination of Bishop Mendy will further strengthen relations amongst Gambians
of all denominations and religions. In a statement, the President urged the bishop to promote peaceful co-existence amongst Gambians, and wished him success in his new task. He said, ‘The ordination of Bishop Mendy is a solemn occasion for all Gambians, the first time a citizen among the Gambian community is called to that position.’ At the Episcopal...

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Easter Sunday

'We are witnesses!' 'WE are witnesses!' cried St Peter, when he and his fellow apostles proclaimed the Good News of the Resurrection to everyone who would listen. As today's reading from Acts relates, the Resurrection and the descent of the Holy Spirit made the little band of apostles new men: eager, articulate, fearless. As St Paul declares in the...

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FEBRUARY- MARCH 2018 Newsletter

Welcoming our new Bishop

FATHER Gabriel Mendy CSSp was born in Lamin, and is a Catholic priest of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans).
He holds a BA in philosophy, a BA in religion, an MA in theology, and a PhD in systematic theology. Since his ordination by Bishop Cleary in 1997, Fr Mendy has worked in Sierra Leone, and in 2004 he began doctorate studies in Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, USA. After graduation in 2009 he became a Parochial Vicar at Our Lady Star of....

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Who are the Spiritans?

OUR Bishop-elect is a Spiritan, and so were the three Bishops of Banjul who preceded him. Throughout the 20th century, it was Spiritan priests from
Ireland who ministered to and built up the Catholic Mission in The Gambia. In modern times, it was only in the 1980s thar the first Gambian priests were ordained, to the joy of Bishop Michael Cleary, who in company with his Irish confreres had worked and prayed for Gambian vocations, so that the Church in The Gambia could truly become the...

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Is today's Church too easy-going about Lent?

LOOKING at what the Church asks of us this Lent, some might say ‘not very much’. In earlier times, it was different: Give up this. Don’t do that.
Yet today the Church doesn’t ask us for much actual fasting, and rather little self-denying abstinence. But think again. Perhaps the Church asks more of us than before. Rather than simply following pious rules, we are each asked, as mature Christians, to consider carefully in what ways we may make good use of...

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DECEMBER 2017 - JANUARY 2018 Newsletter

Sister Dawida celebrates her silver jubilee

ON Saturday 7th October the School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND) joined sisters from other congregations, priests and
lay people at the GPI Chapel to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of the religious profession of Sr Dawida Krzempek. She has spent seventeen of her twenty-five years as a sister in The Gambia. Sr Dawida is working as a teacher in the Parish of Mary Mother of God at Soma. The celebrant at the Mass of...

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The real Christmas

CHRISTMAS is a time of rejoicing. Parties, family get- togethers, gifts, reunions, good food and drink: all these mark the Christmas and New Year celebrations that many millions enjoy, throughout the world. It’s a time, too, when differences are put aside, peace is emphasised, and good resolutions made. Yet for the majority, all this rejoicing at...

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Since 1987
Gambia's National Pilgrimage to Kunkujang Mariama

ON SATURDAY 9th December great crowds of Catholics and others will gather from across the country and beyond at Kunkujang Mariama. It will be the thirty-first pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady Queen of Peace, the first pilgrimage having taken place ten...

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OCTOBER - NOVEMBER 2017 Newsletter

New facilities at Kunkujang

SPEAKING at the blessing of a 30-bed hostel and cafeteria at Mariama Kunkujang in June, Bishop Robert Ellison said,
‘Silence is no longer part of today’s vocabulary. Perhaps we should encourage more members of our community to help them discover the peace and joy of spending a few days or nights in this holy place.’ The bishop revealed: ‘Soon after my ordination as Bishop of Banjul, I paid a visit to the National Shrine of Our Lady of

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Sang Marie 2017

15th AUGUST was, as usual in The Gambia, a public holiday to celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption, known in this country and in Senegal as Sang Marie. In Banjul, the celebrations took the usual form of morning Mass in the Cathedral and an afternoon procession from the Church of the Holy Ghost, Campama. Taking part in the

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Seminary fire

FIRE in the Junior Seminary at Lamin in the morning of Wednesday 30th August caused considerable damage. The fire has been attributed to an electrical fault. The sole seminarian resident on 30th August raised an alert, and the fire brigade was called. The fire damaged the multi-purpose hall and items kept there, including personal effects of Fr

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AUGUST - SEPTEMBER 2017 Newsletter

Celebrating malaria reduction

THE AMERICAN Ambassador, C. Patricia Alsup (right), spoke at a recent reception to honour
achievements in malaria reduction in The Gambia. An addresss by President Adama Barrow was read on his behalf by the Minister of Health & Social Welfare, Saffie Lowe Ceesay. The reception, at the Coral Beach Hotel on Tuesday 11th July, was hosted by the Ministry of Health, the US Embassy and Catholic Relief Services (CRS).

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Sang Marie in The Gambia

IN The Gambia and Senegal, the solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is simply known as Sang Marie. In some other countries, too, the solemnity has a simple name: 'Lady Day', for example; and in Spain and Latin America, the Immacoloda. Sang Marie, like All Saints' Day, has long been a public

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At the Reformation, atrocities on both sides

IT has been 500 years since what is seen as the beginning of the Reformation, when the German monk Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of a church in Wittenberg, challenging practices in the late mediæval Catholic Church and ushering in a schism that led to the rise of...

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JUNE - JULY 2017 Newsletter

Remembering Fr Joseph Gough

A REQUIEM for Fr Joseph Gough CSSp was held at St Therese’s Kanifing on Monday 27th March.
Present were Bishop Robert Ellison, nineteen other clergy, and a large congregation. The principal celebrant was the District Superior of the Spiritans in The Gambia, Fr Michael Gomez CSSp. Three of the clergy present at the

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Great day for Jews and Christians

'PENTECOST' means 'fiftieth day'. It refers to the fiftieth day after the great Jewish feast of the Passover - the feast of the redemption
of the Jews from slavery in Egypt.
Passover for Christians is the great Paschal Feast when we celebrate the redemption of all mankind from the slavery of sin. At the Christian Passover - Easter, or Pasch - we celebrate the

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Gambian Christians give thanks

‘O GIVE thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his loving kindness is everlasting.’ This verse from the First Book of Chronicles provided the theme for the National Day of Prayer and Thanksgiving at the Independence

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APRIL - MAY 2017 Newsletter

A 'bitter Lent' in Syria

The Lent Message of the Marionite Archbishop of Damascus, SAMIR NASSER
An apocalyptic scene

IN six years of war the face of Syria has changed quite a lot. It is a huge disaster zone of debris, carbonised buildings, burnt-down houses, ghost neighbourhoods and towns destroyed to the ground. More than twelve millions Syrians -50 per cent of the population...

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Sister Mary’s silver jubilee

AT a joyful Mass in Star of the Sea Church, Bakau on Monday 27th February, Sister Mary Potin gave thanks for 25 years as a Sister of the
Presentation of Mary.
The principal celebrant was Fr Benedict Mba. Bishop Ellison was among those who attended the reception that followed at Shalom Retreat Centre Fajara. ‘All for God, all through his holy love!’ The Presentation Sisters began their work of

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Forthcoming Christian thanksgiving at the stadium

all denominations are to be held at the Independence Stadium Bakau on Saturday 25th March, from 4 to 7 pm. For Catholics and Anglicans, the day is the feast of the Annunciation. The event is a follow-up to prayers at the stadium on Saturday

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FEBRUARY - MARCH 2017 Newsletter

Our diocese approaches its 60th anniversary

ON Saturday 24th June 2017, our Diocese of Banjul will become 60 years old. It was on 24th June 1957 that Pope Pius XII raised the Prefecture
Apostolic to the status of a diocese, with the title ‘The Diocese of Bathurst in The Gambia’. But it wasn’t until 5th January 1958 that Monsignor Michael Moloney, who had been Prefect Apostolic, was named as the first Bishop...

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'Crowded' pilgrimage

THE ANNUAL December pilgrimage to Kunkujang Mariama was held on 10th December, the Saturday nearest to the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Pilgrims came from throughout the country and beyond, and it was remarked that participation was even...

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Ash Wednesday

Ashes. prayer and supplication
OUR use of ashes on Ash Wednesday derives from ancient tradition among the Hebrews and others. Smearing oneself or one’s clothing with ashes is a sign of mourning or repentance. In Jonah 42:6, for instance, the King of Nineveh seeks..

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DECEMBER 2016 - JANUARY 2017 Newsletter

Death of leading educationalist

HE DEATH occurred on Sunday 20th November of a leading educationalist THE DEATH occurred on Sunday 20th November of a
leading educationalist, Delphine Carrol. Delphine Eileen Sarah Carrol was born in Freetown, the eldest daughter of Oliver and Marie Macaulay, in November 1932. After primary and secondary education in Freetown, she obtained a BSc at....

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St Augustine’s School: Its History and Accomplishments By George F. Gomez

‘LONG overdue’, writes Fr Joseph Gough, past Principal of St Augustine’s Senior Secondary School, in a foreword to George F.
Gomez’ newly-published history of the school. He is echoed by Abdou Amadou Samba, former Secretary- General, who describes the book as ‘very timely’. St Augustine’s past pupils and many others

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Pope closes Holy Door at St Peter’s

ON Sunday 20th November, Feast of Christ the King, Pope Francis closed the Holy Door at St Peter’s Basilica, formally ending the Holy Year of Mercy he had declared to stress the need for greater reconciliation and forgiveness in the...

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OCTOBER-NOVEMBER 2016 Newsletter

Devoted reverend sister and educationalist

SISTER Calixte Thomas, who served in The Gambia from 1998 to 1012, died at Bangalore, in her native India, on Sunday 18th
September, at the age of 69. Sr Catherine Jarra has recently written of Sr Calixte that she showed love and compassion to many of God’s people. ‘She carried out her duties with great competency, simplicity, humility and dedication, despite her ill-health......

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The message of Bishop ROBERT EllisON Cssp for Mission sunday, 16th October 2016

EVERY year when I return from my holiday, many people ask me about retired Irish missionaries from The Gambia. The number is
rising steadily: Bishop Emeritus Cleary, Fr Gillooly, Fr Fagan, Fr Fleming, Fr Grimes, Fr Gough, Fr Casey, Fr Hagan. There are only three of us left here! Eventually, we too shall join ‘Dad’s Army’

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The homily of POPE Francis at the closing Mass of world Youth Day, Krakow July 2016

“children of God... that is what we are” (1 John 3:1). We have been created in God’s own image; Jesus has taken upon himself our
humanity and his heart will never be separated from us; the Holy Spirit wants to dwell within us. That is our real ‘stature’, our spiritual identity: we are God’s beloved children, always. So you can see that not to accept ourselves, to

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AUGUST-SEPTEMBER 2016 Newsletter

Sang Marie Universal feast with a local flavour

THE SOLEMNITY of the Assumption of our Lady is celebrated throughout the universal Church. It is a Holy Day of Obligation, when no Catholic should willfully miss taking part in the Mass. But this doesn’t need to be underlined in The Gambia, where our Cathedral is..

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Lagos shuts churches and mosques

THE AUTHORITIES in Nigeria's commercial hub of Lagos have shut down dozens of churches, mosques and hotels in a bid to cut noise
pollution. The sprawling city of 20 million people is notorious for heavy traffic jams and the deafening noise of churches and mosques that use loudspeakers to spread their message. ‘Seventy churches, 20 mosques and 11 hotels, club houses and beer parlours have..

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Cardinal Robert Sarah: West African ‘key player in Rome’

IT is often said that once a new Pope has emerged, the cardinals’ thoughts turn almost immediately to the question of his successor.
Pope Francis, although about to turn 80 at the end of this year, does not seem to be running out of steam. Despite having part of a lung missing, Pope Francis seems undiminished by a daunting schedule. This, along with his obvious pleasure in his role, means that it is..

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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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UK Bishops urge Indian government to release Fr Swamy

The President of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, joins calls for the government of India to release Fr Stan Swamy, the 83-year-old Indian Jesuit priest and social activist who has been imprisoned for over 100 days on unfounded charges of sedition and terrorism.
Wed, 27 Jan 2021 18:11:25 +0100

Care of creation: Liège, a diocese in transition

Since September 2020, the Belgian diocese of Liège has established a contact person for integral ecology, inspired by the environmental and social reflections contained in Pope Francis' encyclical Laudato si'. Presently, the diocese is planning projects and initiatives to promote solidarity and safeguard creation.
Wed, 27 Jan 2021 17:57:00 +0100

Yemen marks grim anniversary of uprising

Yemen on Wednesday marks the 10th anniversary of an uprising that called for change but has resulted in the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
Wed, 27 Jan 2021 16:16:12 +0100

Philippine Bishops urge Catholics to be charitable despite pandemic

The Bishops of the Philippines conclude their plenary Assembly with a call for Catholics to let their faith shine through acts of charity and mercy, as Pope Francis invites the local Church to be "a home with open doors."
Wed, 27 Jan 2021 16:12:04 +0100

Abp Martin asks forgiveness of survivors following NI Mother and Baby report

The Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, Eamon Martin, expresses his sorrow and asks the forgiveness of survivors following the publication of a Research Report on Mother and Baby Homes and Magdalene Laundries in Northern Ireland.
Wed, 27 Jan 2021 14:29:45 +0100

UK Bishops express sadness at death of Polish comatose patient

The Bishops of the United Kingdom express their sorrow at the death of a Polish man who was taken off life support after being in a coma for over a week.
Wed, 27 Jan 2021 13:37:59 +0100

Official theme song for World Youth Day 2023 released

“Há Pressa no Ar” - the theme song for World Youth Day 2023, recalls Mary’s rush to meet her cousin Elizabeth and her “yes” to the Angel Gabriel during the annunciation of the birth of Our Lord.
Wed, 27 Jan 2021 12:40:01 +0100

On Holocaust Remembrance Day, Pope says remembering is an expression of humanity

At his General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day, observed on the anniversary of the liberation of Nazi concentration and extermination camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Wed, 27 Jan 2021 12:19:00 +0100

Pope at Audience: The Bible, the place where God meets man

Continuing his catechesis on prayer at the Wednesday General Audience, Pope Francis reflects on the importance of the Sacred Scriptures in the life of prayer, saying it was written for each one of us.
Wed, 27 Jan 2021 10:57:58 +0100

Pope Francis attends funeral of his personal doctor

Pope Francis attends the funeral of Fabrizio Soccorsi, his personal doctor who died on 9 January. The funeral Mass was celebrated by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.
Tue, 26 Jan 2021 20:38:12 +0100