By Nelson Manneh and Louis Jobe
Rev. Fr. Dr. Gabriel Mendy C.S.S.P, on Saturday took his oath to occupy the highest office of the Catholic Diocese of Banjul.
This historical event took place on Saturday, 3rd February 2018, at the Independence Stadium in Bakau, witnessed by the thousands of both Gambians and non-Gambians, Christians and non-Christians, government officials, friends, members of the Muslim community and well-wishers.
Fr. Bruno Toupan the parish priest of the Holy Spirit Church in Banjul said Bishop Mendy was the fourth Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Banjul; that what makes his ordination a special historic event, was because it was the first time the son of the soil is occupying the office of Bishop in the Gambia.
“More than sixty years ago, the Catholic Diocese of Banjul was reigned by foreign Bishops. Today the son of this land will be ordained as the new Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese in the country. History has revealed itself but in a different manner, “he said.
Fr. Bruno Toupan who was ordained as priest in the same year, month and day with the new Bishop said, what makes him so happy is that one of his mate in the priesthood, is now the successor of outgoing Bishop P. Ellison C.S.S.P. He said the Diocese of Banjul today is under the guardianship of the son of the soil.
By His Grace, Archbishop Edward Tamba Charles, Bishop of Freetown Sierra Leone who animated the mass, said Bishops are elected by God. He said the Pope is directed by God to select a Bishop.
“The Pope just put it into prayers and God will direct him to the right person. That is why a Bishop should be venerated and have the right to exercise his duty as a Bishop, “he said.
The Bishop of Freetown Sierra Leone said in Canal Law, a Bishop can be ordained and laid hands on by three other Bishops or more and that in their midst, there were more than three Bishops.
“Today Bishop Mendy is called to serve beyond the Catholic Diocese of Banjul. He is called to be the servant of all people irrespective of race, tribe, religion or nationality, “he said.
In his vote of thanks, the newly Ordained Bishop of Banjul, the Rev. Fr. Dr. Gabriel Mendy, said he is the Bishop of all people and is ready to serve everyone; that with the help of other priests, they will endeavor to make sure the good news has reached everyone.
“I am called to be the Shepard of the flock of Christ. I am ordained to care for the poor, the needy and to take up my responsibility of being a Bishop. I am here for those who are educated, not educated and the less privilege. I am here for the parishes and the outstations, “he said.
Bishop Mendy said he is called to be the chief Shepard of the people of God and will endeavor to reach everyone and his office is open to all people.
He said to occupy the office of Bishop is not an easy mission but with the help of God and the priests, they will be able to achieve together.
The newly Ordain Bishop thanked Government for their tireless support in order to make the day a success.
“You the Spiritan priests, work in frustrating conditions. We thank you for your commitment to the work of God,” he noted. Bishop Mendy continue to acknowledge the participation of every individual, Companies, organizations and volunteers, for their support and commitment.
Bishop Mendy was born on April 9th 1967, in Lamin village of the West Coast Region of the Gambia. He made his perpetual vow in the Congregation of the Holy Spirit on the 31st August 1996 and was ordained on the 15thNovember 1997. He studied at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, obtaining a degree in Theology in 1998 and a Ph.D. in Systematic Theology in 2009.
Prior to his appointment, Fr. Mendy served as a professor at the Spiritan International School of Theology in Enugu, Nigeria, since 2010, also serving as its vice rector since 2011.
According to the Holy See Press Office, Bishop Mendy also held the following roles: pastoral service at Saint Peter’s parish and Saint Theresa’s parish (1997-1998); collaborator in the Saint Martin of Porres parish in Freetown, Sierra Leone (1997-1998); teacher at the major pre-seminary of Saint Kizito in Kenema, Sierra Leone and pastor in the Holy Trinity parish in Kenema (1999-2002); pastor in the parish of Santa Maria in Pendembu, Sierra Leone (2002-2004); student at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, U.S.A. (2004-2009); parish vicar in Our Lady of the Sea parish in New York, USA (2009-2010), where from 2006 to 2016 he also served as a summer co-worker.
On Sunday the 4th of February 2018, the new Bishop animated his first mass as Bishop in the Cathedral Church in Banjul. The event was graced by hundreds of people both Gambians and non-Gambians.
On the 11th of February 2018, Bishop Mendy will celebrate his thanksgiving mass at his home village in Lamin, in the West Coast Region of the Gambia.