Vatican City (Fides Service) - The Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI on 25 February accepted the renunciation of the pastoral government of the diocese of Banjul (Gambia) presented by Bishop Michael J. Cleary in conformity with Canon Law, canon 401 § 1. The Holy Father appointed new Bishop of Banjul (Gambia) Rev. Fr. Robert Patrick Ellison, C.S.Sp., Secretary General of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit.
The new Bishop Robert Patrick Ellison C.S.Sp., was born on 12 February 1942 in Dublin, Ireland. After secondary school he entered the Novitiate of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit. He studied philosophy in Ireland and theology in Rome at the Gregorian University obtaining a Licentiate in dogmatic theology. He also engaged in Islamic studies while in Rome. He made his perpetual profession in 1968 and was ordained a priest on 6 July 1969. Since then he has ministered as follows: 1970-74: missionary in Gambia, educational and parish pastoral; 1972-73: studies at the Pontifical Institute for Arab and Islamic Studies in Rome PISAI; 1974-80: director of Philosophy Formation House, in Ireland; 1981-84: missionary in Gambia pastoral work for formation, inter-religious dialogue and ecumenism; 1985-91: superior of the Spiritan District of the Gambia; 1991-93: teacher at St. Anselm College in Kent, England; 1993-99: director of The Gambia Pastoral Institute in Banju. Since 1999 secretary general of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit.
Banjul diocese created in 1974 is directly under the Holy See. It has an area of 10,403 sq. km, a population of 1,639.500 including 34,000 Catholics, gathered in 16 parishes assisted by 26 priests (15 diocesan and 11 religious), with 42 women religious and there are 4 seminarians. (S.L.) (Agenzia Fides 27/2/2006; Righe 20; Parole 272)