Brief History of Catholic Archdiocese of Freetown
Sierra Leone lies on the West Coast of Africa with Guinea on the North and East and Liberia on the South. The capital, Freetown, has a population of about 1.8 million whilst the population of the entire country is about 6 million.
Although missionaries were active in the coastal regions of West Africa from the early sixteenth century, the Catholic faith first came to be formally established in Sierra Leone in 1864 and has grown steadily over the past two centuries. Islam is also spreading fast, but it is important to note that the relationship between Christians and Muslims is very cordial.
Generally, the Catholic Church in Sierra Leone is composed of a Metropolitan See and three suffragan dioceses: Archdiocese of Freetown, Diocese of Makeni, Diocese of Bo and Diocese of Kenema.
The Archdiocese of Freetown and Bo was created in 1950, but it was elevated to its present status of Metropolitan Archdiocese on November 11, 1970 during the episcopate of Archbishop Thomas Brosnahan, C.S.Sp. Between 1981 and 2007, for a period of 26 years, Most Rev. Joseph Henry Ganda administered the Archdiocese. As per existing Church norm (cf. CIC 401ξ 1), upon the completion of his 75th birthday, Archbishop Joseph Henry Ganda retired in March 2007 and handed over the mantle of pastoral leadership to an Apostolic Administrator, Monsignor Samuel Gandi. The former acquired the title emeritus of the Archdiocese whilst the latter provided pastoral leadership for 14 months. Presently, Most Reverend Edward Tamba Charles, who was appointed Archbishop in March 2008 and was ordained two months later on May 14, 2008, administers the Archdiocese.
In January 2011, the new Diocese of Bo was caved out of the then Archdiocese of Freetown and Bo. The territory of the Archdiocese of Freetown is now the totality of the territory of the Western Area of Sierra Leone. There are 10 parishes with resident parish priests and many outstations and Catholic Communities with potentials of becoming parishes in the future. There are approximately 70,000 committed and vibrant Catholics in the Archdiocese, 28 diocesan priests and many male and female religious.