At Vigil Mass, Late Sierra Leone’s First Native Bishop Eulogized as “a tireless advocate”

Archbishop Joseph Henry Ganda, Sierra Leone’s first native Catholic Bishop who died on August 9. Credit: Caritas Freetown

Archbishop Joseph Henry Ganda, Sierra Leone’s first native Catholic Bishop who died on August 9, has been eulogized as “a tireless advocate”, who championed many causes during his Priestly and Episcopal Ministry. 

In his homily during the Vigil Mass of the late Archbishop at St. Paul’s Cathedral of Freetown Archdiocese, the Executive Director of Caritas Freetown, also acknowledged Archbishop Ganda’s “deep faith” as well as his “unwavering dedication, and profound love for his flock.”

Fr. Peter Konteh celebrating Vigil Mass for the late Archbishop Ganda at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Freetown Archdiocese. Credit: Fr. Konteh.

“Archbishop Ganda's impact extended far beyond the boundaries of his diocese. He was a tireless advocate for justice and peace, tirelessly working to alleviate the suffering of the poor, the marginalized, and the oppressed,” Fr. Peter Konteh said in his Thursday, September 14 homily.

Credit: Caritas Freetown


Fr. Konteh added, “His prophetic voice spoke truth to power, challenging the structures of injustice and inequality, and calling for solidarity and compassion.”

The Caritas official who doubles as the Vice President of the Regional Priest Association of West Africa said that Archbishop Ganda focused on fostering unity and reconciliation within the church and the society in his Episcopal ministry.

“He sought to bridge divides, to heal wounds, and to promote dialogue and understanding. His vision was one of a Church that embraces diversity, that breaks down barriers, and that stands as a symbol of hope and unity in a fractured world,” Fr. Konteh said about the Sierra Leonean Archbishop, who died aged 91 after serving the Catholic Church in Sierra Leone for over six decades. 

Credit: Caritas Freetown

He said that the late Archbishop’s life that was manifested through virtues of compassion, humility, and generosity was a testament to the “transformative power of God's love and the call to serve others in imitation of Christ.”

More in Africa

“He believed that faith without action was incomplete, and he inspired countless individuals to work towards the transformation of society and the building of God's Kingdom on earth,” said the award-winning Catholic Priest who has identified himself as Archbishop Ganda’s “spiritual son”.

Born on 22 March 1932, Archbishop Ganda entered Bigard Memorial Seminary in Enugu Nigeria, and was ordained a Priest in April 1961, the same month Sierra Leone gained independence.

Credit: Caritas Freetown

He goes down the history of Catholicism in Sierra Leone as the first native Catholic Priest in the country. He proceeded to become the first native Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Kenema in the Eastern Province of Sierra Leone.

The late Archbishop is the first fruit of the efforts of early Catholic missionaries who sought to evangelize the country amid stiff competition from Protestants.


On 23 November 1980, Ganda was installed as the first native-born Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Freetown in Sierra Leone. He retired on 2 March 2007, after over three decades of service in the Catholic Church. Archbishop Edward Tamba Charles succeeded him.

Credit: Caritas Freetown

In his September 14 homily, Fr. Konteh also reflected on Archbishop Ganda in his role as a principal distributor of the mysteries of God through the celebration of Sacraments.

“He recognized the power of the Eucharist to unite the faithful and to nourish their souls,” the member of the Clergy of Freetown Archdiocese said, adding, “He encouraged frequent reception of the sacraments and the cultivation of a vibrant prayer life, recognizing that it is through these channels of grace that we encounter Christ and are transformed by His love.”

Credit: Caritas Freetown

(Story continues below)

Fr. Konteh went on to encourage the people of God in the West African nation to mourn the late Archbishop, remembering him “for the profound impact he had on our lives and on the life of the Church.”

“We are reminded that death is not the end, but a new beginning. It is a passage into eternal life, where he now rests in the loving embrace of our Heavenly Father. We find solace in the knowledge that he has joined the great cloud of witnesses, interceding for us and guiding us from above,” he said.

Fr. Konteh further appealed in reference to the late Catholic Archbishop, “Strive to carry forward his legacy.”

Credit: Caritas Freetown

“Let us be inspired by his unwavering faith, his commitment to justice, and his love for all people. May we, as members of the Church he guided and loved, continue the work he began, keeping alive his passion for social justice, his dedication to unity, and his unwavering love for Christ and His Church,” he said.

The late Catholic Archbishop emeritus of the then Freetown and Bo in Sierra Leone was laid to rest on Friday, September 15.

Credit: Caritas Freetown

In a note Fr. Konteh shared with ACI Africa, the Funeral Mass that was celebrated at St. Paul Cathedral of Sierra Leone’s Kenema Diocese was graced by thousands of mourners, including “dignitaries from around the world”.

St. Paul Cathedral of Kenema Diocese, he says, which the late Archbishop “himself constructed during his tenure as the Bishop of Kenema from 1971 to 1980, served as the fitting venue for the ceremony that highlighted his enduring legacy.”

“The atmosphere was filled with both solemnity and reverence as hundreds of priests, religious figures, and dignitaries from various corners of the globe paid their respects. Notably, five bishops and delegations from the West African region, as well as visitors from the United States and Europe, joined the local community to honor the life and achievements of Emeritus Joseph H. Ganda,” Fr. Konteh says in his note to ACI Africa on September 15 reads in part.

Credit: Caritas Freetown

If further reads, “The sight of such a large and diverse gathering was a testament to the profound impact that Emeritus Joseph H. Ganda had on the lives of countless individuals.”

“The ceremony culminated with a moving Funeral Mass, where prayers were offered for the eternal peace and rest of the late bishop's soul. As the casket was laid to rest in the Cathedral he himself had constructed, a profound silence enveloped the space, accompanied by a collective sense of gratitude for his life and achievements,” the Sierra Leonean Catholic Priest says.

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.