Bishop Emeritus of Gambia’s Banjul Diocese Eulogized for “gentle way of doing things”

Late Bishop Robert Patrick Ellison. Credit: Gambia Pastoral Institute

Tributes are pouring in for Bishop Robert Patrick Ellison, the Irish-born Bishop Emeritus of Gambia’s Banjul Diocese, who passed on at 82, with some remembering him for his “gentle way of doing things”.

In a message that the Gambia Pastoral Institute published, Bishop Ellison who died in “the early hours” of Thursday, February 22, on the Feast Day of the Chair of St. Peter, is remembered for his unwavering love for the Gambians.

“Bishop Emeritus Ellison will be remembered for his love of the people of the Gambia and his simple but gentle way of doing things,” reads the message that was published on the same day of his death.

The late Bishop was born in Dublin, Ireland, in February 1942. He was ordained a Priest of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit ((Spiritans/Holy Ghost Fathers/CSSp.) in 1969 after completing his studies in theology at the Gregorian University of Rome.

The late first arrived in Banjul, Gambia in October 1970 and stayed for two years before leaving for Rome where he studied theology, law, and the history of Islam at the Pontifical Institute for Islamic & Arabic Studies.


He returned to the Gambia in 1981 and served in various capacities including the Administrator of the Cathedral of Banjul, and Vicar-General before taking charge of building and administration at the Junior Seminary, Lamin.

In 1999, the late Bishop Emeritus went back to Rome as Secretary-General of the Spiritans before being appointed as the Bishop of Banjul Diocese by Pope Benedict XVI in 2006, succeeding Bishop Michael Cleary who had been at the helm of the diocese since 1981.

He is said to have hosted the final meeting of the Association of Episcopal Conferences of Anglophone West Africa from 4-8 August 2006.  The meeting was attended by about 120 West African English-speaking cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops, Priests, and religious and lay people.

As the Bishop, the late is said to have exemplified the kind of leadership that enabled the diocese to be “increasingly dynamic” and self-supporting.

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.