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Charles Joseph Mendy was a Gambian Roman Catholic priest. Mendy served the Gambian Roman Catholic Church for eight years (1924-1932) only; his career was cut short when he unexpectedly died during an operation. Mendy was widely considered a saint by his contemporaries.
Few details are known about Charles Joseph Mendy. He was born in Bathurst, but neither his date of birth nor his parentage are known; the name Mendy suggests Manjago descent. Mendy was sent to the Junior Seminary in Ngasobil in 1909 and had his entire formation in Senegal.
He was ordained on June 22, 1924 in Bathurst, the first Gambian in 55 years to be ordained into the priesthood. According to the archival material, people of all denominations attended his ordination and also many priests and religious from Senegal were present. The Spiritan Journal de la communauté states: “in truth the day that the Lord hath made, a red letter day in the History of Bathurst which witnesses for the first time the ordination of a priest and then it is one of our own, a native of Bathurst.” The Journal of the Spiritan Congregation also reported that never before had there been so many priests in the Gambia.
Mendy served as a parish priest in Hagan Street, Bathurst and soon acquired a saintly reputation because of his piety. Oral history states that Mendy lived an ascetic life, spent much of his time in prayer and shared all he had with the poor. The same oral tradition states that on several occasions, unannounced visitors to the church found Mendy in a levitated state, lost in prayer. Though this claim is not substantiated in written sources, the narrative indicates the respect and standing Mendy had acquired amongst the Bathurst congregation.
Oral tradition has given its own appraisal of Mendy, stating that many of Mendy’s contemporaries, both Muslims and Christians, considered him to be a saint. 
1. Entry June 22, 1924, Journal de Ste. Marie de Bathurst IV, 1924-1958, Box 4i2.4. The comment that the ordination of Mendy was the first priestly ordination ever in Bathurst, is not quite accurate. Already on April 4, 1849, Bishop Kobès ordained Henry Warlop into the priesthood.
W. Cleary, Reaping a rich harvest. A history of the Catholic Church in The Gambia, Kanifing (The Gambia), 1990.
This article, received in 2016, was researched and written by Martha Frederiks, Professor for the Study of World Christianity at Utrecht University, The Netherlands. Research foci include West African Christianity, Christian Muslim relations and religion and migration. Frederiks worked in the Gambia between 1993 and 1999 as adviser of the Programme for Christian-Muslim Relations in Africa.
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