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Rev. Fr. Tony Mbanefor MSP: The Priest to Count on

Nov 25, 2009, 11:48 AM | Article By: Augustine Kanjia

Reverend Father Tony Mbanefor MSP (Missionary of Saint Paul) served in The Gambia especially in the St. Michael's Parish at Njongon and the Resurrection Parish at Brikama. He proved to be a book pundit and followed St. Paul's footsteps by writing a lot to the newspapers on his religion and made friends with both the old and the young. As a missionary, Fr. Mbanefor learnt Wollof and French and spoke them fluently. After years of studies in America, this nice Priest maintained contact with all his friends and continued speaking Wollof, a language he gave his sermons in for the indigenes and Wollof speakers to understand. Fr. Tony Mbanefor visited all his friends on his visit recently and paid homage to newspapers he had written for. He was invited to come and witness the ordination of Fr. Yenes Manneh who had been his Mass Server.

Fr. Mbanefor MSP, said he came here precisely to attend the ordination of Yenes, his one time Mass Server. "He was a boy and I saw him grow. I saw him enter the seminary and was already in the Major Seminary. It is a sign of growth of The Church in The Gambia.

He is the first priest of Brikama of the Resurrection parish. Fr. Peter Jammeh CSSp, who was ordained earlier comes from the outskirts but belongs to the Holy Ghost Fathers Congregation. And for Rev. Yenes, he is from Brikama and he is a diocesan priest, which makes a great impact on the Church in The Gambia."

Father Mbanefor MSP, answering questions on whether Yenes Manneh was motivated by his examples, he said it is for Fr. Yenes Manneh to answer the question. He said: "But as a priest I did what I was supposed to do. Whether the small things had influenced him, I am conscious of the fact that God inspires people to be what they want to be."

Father Tony said he sees the Church in The Gambia as a growing Church, citing the ordination of Rev. Yenes Manneh and many others including professions of indigenes and more youths are coming up and are participating.

"We pray for many young to join religious life, priesthood and many others to join the proper Catholic marriage order of the Church," he said.

According to him, he has been an avid priest as a result has spent time in the United States studying tenaciously to help the Church in his ministry. He has been engaged in studying and now works in Pastoral Ministry in the diocese of Austin, Texas in USA. Fr. Mbanefor has shown that he believes in exploiting whatever situation he finds himself in life thus exploiting the world of knowledge.

"I have been studying Catholic Theology, it broadens my mind and enables me to reach out, it enables me to preach the word of God more efficiently. It is priority, it is when one knows it, then can live it. It enables me to preach to the people of every community and accept it in their lives," he said.

Looking at the young priest and leaving advise for him, Fr. Mbanefor said he had nothing so much to give other than the message given by the Church through the Bishop. "I implore him to give his whole life and energy to love the people and to strive to live the values of the Gospel."

To the parishioners and Catholics, Father advised them to love their priests and to support them. I want them to live together in love as they live in minority; as he quotes Jesus and added his voice and said, "These are my men by the way they live. That they live their Christian values so that others will know them by their living, by living a sacramental life." He urged them to attend confirmation and baptism classes, attending Mass, praying together in their families and practicing forgiveness so that there will be less problems in families with less or no divorce. The trend of things in society and how people do the wrong things in and outside of office, he warned those in public offices to be dedicated to duty by being trust worthy with proper accountability so that they will not be counted among those who are corrupt. "They can't only be good in Church but in the society too," he said.

Advising his fellow priests he encouraged them to work as a family by joining the Bishop to build the Church as it is coming of age. The success of the Church is a challenge. It is only with the love for one another that they will build the Church. They should work with passion to be able to build the Church and to encourage more young boys to join them to become holy priests for The Gambia and the world.