Kartong Mourns Their Priest

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Father Andrew Carroll CSSp who had served in The Gambia especially Kartong has died in Ireland in October 2009 and his people at Kartong mourn him. He had served for several years in that town and gave his life for them. He spoke Karoninka, ate with them and slept with them. This noble priest left everything in Ireland and set out to come and give all he had to the people of Kartong and even beyond. Citizens of Kartong have a lot of good things they remember about Fr. Carroll. Christian Panorama finds out why the man gave all he had as foretold in the Gospels of Christ. Fr. Andrew Carroll died in Kimmage Manor, Ireland.

In the colonial days, the Methodist Missionary Treleaven (1931-1945) bemoaned the fact that his district synod demanded that there should be a minister for Wesley Church and another minister for Bethel Church while their schools in the Kombos had to be closed due to lack of personnel. With the arrival of Bishop Daly in 1935 (the first Anglican Bishop of The Gambia), Treleaven remarked that the Roman Catholics were pouring in men; the Anglicans were making go ahead plans; but the Methodists were retrenching. At the same time mortality rate had been high. The tide was turned with the arrival in 1937 of Fr. Farrell, and in 1938 of Fr. Moloney, each giving a lifetime of service to the Church in The Gambia. Their arrival and their perseverance made the Church cease to be merely a parish but a Church co-extensive with the national boundaries.

A steady stream of new priests followed: towards the end of the War Fathers Farrell (15.1.’44) Carroll (12.10.’44), White (10.10’45.) We see now how and when Fr. Andrew Carroll came, the above is according to “Reaping A Rich Harvest” (Page 36), A history of the Catholic Church in The Gambia.

The Mission at Bwiam had no resident priest but Fr. Farrell served there from time to time, until Fr. Carroll came on the 7th March 1947 to the 50s.

Fr. Carroll went to Bwiam in 1964 and left in the 90s. He spent his life in Kartong and everyone knew him quite well and he also touched the lives of many people. Some of those who remember him opted to talk to the media on their relationship with their priest and what they remember him most for.

Alhajie Demba Jabang, the Alkalo, said that Fr. Carroll was a leader who led by example. He laid his life as a priest for the people of Kartong. He worked in Njongon, Bwiam, Kartong and its surrounding villages including Kunkujang. “He brought education to Kartong and The Gambia as a whole. Kartong was divided but he did his best to unite all of us,” he said.

Pa Harry Badjie, the Principal of the St. Martin’s Basic Cycle said Fr. Carroll was particular about his teachers. “He was interested in helping the poor,” he said. He remembers Fr. Carroll’s best friend, Pa Martin a contract teacher. They went into a fishing project but they later failed. He built a modest wooden house in Kartong where he lived; he was a great man.

Gabriel Jarjue, a former Catechist said Fr. Carroll was very keen on bringing Christian children together for catechism. “We used to walk around to villages to get small kids. Fr. Carroll built this school. My father lodged him,” he said.

Charles Jarju, Catechist of Berending emotionally said was brought up by Fr. Carroll. Asking him what Fr. Carroll meant for him in his life, he said “He means everything in my life, spiritually and otherwise,” he said. Talking about the bond between them Catechist Jarju says, “The bond is like a father and son, he brought me up spiritually and physically. I will remember him and hold the memories of our visits to villages.”

Dr. Malick Samba had this to say about his friend Fr. Carroll after he heard of his death. “Fr. Carroll came in 1944 as a graduate teacher. He sent me to study in Ireland and I was the only Muslim in that university. He was a no nonsense man. When I graduated in 1958 I came home and I was looking for something to do.

Fr. Carroll gave his life to The Gambia. He stressed that we always tell the truth. He is an example to many. He was hardworking and laid his life for the people. He taught me that happiness does not mean having plenty, by having cars and women but doing the little things that matter for others,” he said.

Rev. Fr. David J. Jarju, born in Kartong says, “Fr. Carroll stressed on the Rosary. During my ordination he said, ‘At last all powerful master, you give leave to your servant…’ To him he had fulfilled his mission so he quoted Simeon in the Bible. He was quite interested in education.

Asking on how they would like Fr. Carroll to be remembered, Mr. Pa Harry Badjie suggested building a lasting structure in his name in any area. Reverend Father David J. Jarju, Vicar General and Lecturer at the University of The Gambia said, “His name is synonymous to Kartong. I want him to live in Kartong not only tournaments in his name but something concrete to live among his people. He made an impact on the life of his people, making them feel their worth. We pray for Fr. Carroll. It is faith that leads one to be a great missionary,” he said.

Author: Augustine Kanjia
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