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Blessed Sacrament Church shows the way

Feb 10, 2010, 2:02 PM | Article By: Augustine Kanjia

The Blessed Sacrament Church headed by Rev. Fr. Peter Stephen Lopez has recently become a Parish on its own after breaking from the St. Therese's Parish.

During a brief ceremony of the induction of the first parish priest, Rev. Fr. Peter Stephen Lopez, and the elevation of the Church to Canonical status of a parish, a lot was seen at play as parishioners showed true ownership of their well-deserved Church.

The young and energetic priest, who has shown signs of responsibility in all his activities, talks of the history of the Church in his own words and their plans as a parish.

He has these to say:

"The idea of building a church at the Kanifing Housing Estate came when the Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation under the then Director Mr. Geoffery Renner allocated a piece of land for a Mosque and Church in the area. 

However, at this stage it was not decided, which denomination was going to build the Church. The then Vicar General, Very Reverend Father Peter Gomez, who was also Parish Priest of Saint Theresa's Parish knew about the piece of land in 2001 and worked towards getting it for the Catholic Church.

In 2002, Fr. Peter suggested to the Bishop of Banjul, His Lordship Michael Joseph Cleary (Emeritus) to erect a church on this piece of land because of the density of Catholics within the catchment area and the increasing population in St Theresa's Church. The Bishop lobbied for some sponsors to compliment the limited funds available in the Diocese.  Funds were made available through Reverend Father Joseph Gough and the Pontifical Mission Society (PMS).  His Lordship Michael Joseph Cleary laid the foundation stone of the Church. After that, the building of the Church started. It was noted that the funds available would not be enough to complete the building and furnish the Church.  Fr. Peter involved a few Catholics around the area to mobilise their colleagues and see how best they could support the Church project.  The people who were first contacted included: Mr. Simon Cole the current Chairman of the Central Committee and Mrs. Sarah Goddard Joof of Kanifing Estate respectively.  The Church community was quick in responding and supported the project to the completion of the building, furnishing and decorating the interior and exterior of the Church. 

Bishop Emeritus, Michael Cleary formally opened "Blessed Sacrament" on the 5th of November 2005. Since then the community has been committed to the development and up-keep of the Church.  In order to effectively sustain this commitment, various committees were formed (Central Committee in place of a Parish Council, Liturgy Committee, Lectors, Eucharistic Ministers, Youth group, Social, Development and Finance Committees) to coordinate the day-to-day running of the Church.  There are also small associations within the Church, such as the Neighborhood Brothers and Engagement Vous, who have contributed immensely to the upkeep of the Church.

On the 3rd November 2009 the Church community officially wrote a letter to Bishop Robert Ellison, applying to become a parish. This application was given a full approval to establish this Church community with the status of a Canonical Parish in the Diocese of Banjul.

The Church community recently witnessed the induction ceremony of their first Parish Priest and the elevation of the Church to the status of a Canonical Parish in the Diocese of Banjul. It was a day of joy and thanksgiving for all the members of the community. The Bishop reminded the community of their obligation to take care of their parish and to see to its spiritual growth.

Bishop Robert P. Ellison then replied saying: "I have noted the background to the history and growth of this Catholic community and especially the way it has matured and developed so rapidly. It is indeed a community strong in the faith and in it commitment to the Gospel message of Christ. With this letter I therefore wish to give my full approval to establish this Church community with the status of a Canonical Parish in the Diocese of Banjul.

"Your parish community is also a member of the wider community of the Diocese of Banjul, which represents the body in their spiritual and material needs. May God who has begun this good work in you bring it to completion and may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all."