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Gambia Hosts West African Catholic Clergy

Aug 4, 2009, 6:08 AM | Article By: Augustine Kanjia

The Roman Catholic Church of The Gambia is currently hosting several West African Archbishops, Bishops, priests, and representatives of priests and religious denominations from English-speaking West African countries, who would address youths on illegal migration.

The Catholic Church, headed by His Lordship Bishop Robert Patrick Ellison CSSp will from today Tuesday 4th August to Saturday 8th August 2009, hold a high-profile Episcopal Conference of the Association of Episcopal Conferences of Anglophone West Africa (AECAWA), that takes place every three years in different member countries.

The conference, according to officials, will focus on three key areas, among them 'youth and migration in West Africa'.

In a brief interview with this paper, Bishop Ellison expressed delight at the programme and welcomed his comrades to this special session.

According to him, this is the last AECAWA meeting, as the English-speaking Episcopal Conferences will now amalgamate with the French Episcopal Conferences. The last one, he stated, was held in 2007, in Sierra Leone.

"We cut it short before the third year because of the merging to take place between the French and English Catholics of West Africa", he stated.

Bishop Ellison further said, "We have three main areas to discuss: it will be a pastoral visit to The Gambia, as the cardinals and bishops are coming to meet us and pray and leave their blessings on our Church and our country".

"Secondly, we are going to hold a seminar or workshop on a very crucial contemporary theme, 'Youth and Migration in West Africa.' They will thirdly attend to the ordinary administrative needs of the AECAWA as the pastors of our sub-region, in a spirit of communion and collegiality," he stated.

The visitors, according to Bishop Ellison, will visit different parishes of the diocese and pray with them. "This is a true sign of religious tolerance in The Gambia," said Ya Nancy.

The conference, which will take place at the Kairaba Beach Hotel in Kololi, is expected to be opened by the Vice-President, Dr. Aja Isatou Njie-Saidy.

There will be an open air Mass at the Independence Stadium in Bakau on Wednesday, at 6pm.