West Africa

Where Are We/Ministries

First Community in Senegal (1950)

At the request of the Marist Fathers, the first two Marist Sisters arrived in Africa, more precisely in Senegal, on the 16th October 1950. They were Marie Françoise and St Philippe. They had travelled for 9 days from France to Senegal on a banana boat called Catiola. They were welcomed by Monsignor Guibert in the absence of Monsignor Lefèbre. They settled in the community of Hann in Dakar.

As part of their ministry, they taught in the primary and secondary schools of the Cours Sainte Marie de Hann, and were responsible for catechesis in the districts of Hann-Mariste and Bel Air. Some sisters were nurses and served the sick. After classes, they also took care of the Délaténat seminary. They mended the torn clothes of the seminarians and also looked after them when they were ill.

First Community in Gambia (1984)

After some years of missionary presence in Senegal, the Marist Sisters, wanting to broaden their missionary vision in West Africa, presented a restructuring project to the then Superior General, Sister Margaret Purcell, for discussion at the 1984 General Chapter. Until then, the Marist Sisters’ mission depended on the Province of France. This project consisted of establishing the mission of Senegal as an interprovincial mission dependent on the General Administration.

This request coincided with an invitation from the Bishop of Banjul, Archbishop Michael Cleary, to establish a Marist religious presence in Farafenni, on the north bank of the River Gambia. The Gambia is a former British colony stretching along both sides of the River Gambia. The Gambia forms a quasi enclave in Senegal, penetrating more than 300 km inland, and the majority of its population is Muslim, as in Senegal. The populations of Senegal and Gambia share the s ame cultures and languages. It was the colonial administrative division that differentiates them and their official languages

The General Chapter of April 1984 approved the new foundation in The Gambia. On 9th November 1984, Sister Margaret Purcell (Australia), having completed her mandate as Superior General of the Congregation, left for the foundation of the new mission in Gambia, Farafenni together with Sisters Marcelline McCormack (Ireland), Ruth Davis (Australia) and Elizabeth Laroque (Canada). They were welcomed by the Regional Superior, Sister Marie Emmanuel Duclos, accompanied by some Marist Sisters from Senegal and the Vicar General of the Diocese of Banjul Father Vincent Comer . Margaret, Marcelline, Ruth and Beth (Elizabeth) stayed in the Gambian capital for the first few days before settling into their new community.

Our Current Ministries

  • Education
  • Healthcare
  • Women’s Development
  • Social Work
  • Parish Work
  • Catechism