Historical page


It is believed that the first Christians to settle along the River Gambia, which was around the fifteen century where the Portuguese navigators. The first recorded Christian ceremony being the burial according to the rite of the Catholic Church of a sailor was in May 1456.

Christianity came to stay in The Gambia with the establishment of a British garrison and settlement in the island of Banjul in 1816. Different church societies were invited to provide the spiritual needs of this growing settlement.

Hagan Street 1900

Anne Marie Javouhey (1779 - 1851), foundress of the sister of St Joseph of Cluny, was the first Catholic Missionary to come in modern time to the Gambia - she came with two sisters with a laywoman in 1821 and worked and lived in the hospital. She however could not stay long in the country. Only the Methodist Church was active in the Gambia during those first years.

It was after the establishment of the church in Senegal that an uninterrupted presence of Catholicism in the Gambia could also be seen. The migration of the people to the settlement since 1816 include Catholics and others open to becoming Catholic. Two Priests took residence in Banjul by 1849 to serve this population and Church began its slow but steady growth. The Banjul mission was under the Apostolic Vicarate of Dakar. It was concentrated in Banjul but around 1876 it began looking beyond to the Kombos and provinces

By 1905, Fr. John Meehan took up his appointment in the Gambia. It was his destiny to maintain and give quiet growth to the church. In 1931, the Holy See declared the Gambia “Sui Juris” and Fr. Meehan as ecclesiastical superior. Under him , the church was to develop towards an independent mission and diocese. In 1951, Fr. Michael Maloney was named Prefect Apostolic and consecrated first Bishop of the diocese of Banjul on 6 May 1958.

The new diocese continued to receive personnel from Ireland for its evangelization work. Many schools where opened during this period and more work undertaken in the Kombos.

The second Vatican Council was an important event in the live of the church in the Gambia as it presented a new vision of church, apart from a purely hierarchical and institutional one. Bishop Maloney was to preside over this renewal for next fourteen years.

Cathedral, Our Lady of The Assumption

On 25 March 1981, Bishop Michael J. Clearly was consecrated Bishop of Banjul in succession to Bishop Maloney who had retired. The new Bishop continued the solitude of his predecessor for personnel to care for the spiritual growth of the people of God. While being close to missionary assistance from abroad, the growth of a local clergy received active encouragement and support.

On the 14 th May 2006, Bishop Robert Patrick Ellison was consecrated Bishop of Banjul to succeed Bishop Cleary who had retired. Bishop Ellison is the present bishop of the diocese of Banjul.