Mission to the Two Guineas
Mgr. Barron, the Irish missionary from the United States who was in charge at Cap des Palmes contacted Francis Libermann through Fr. Desgenettes, the parish priest of Our Lady of Victories. So in 1843, seven missionaries of the Holy Heart of Mary, accompanied by three young laymen, sailed from Bordeaux and arrived at Cape Palmas.
During the winter of 1843-1844, two missionaries of the Holy Heart of Mary had died, along with Denis Pindar, the American layman. The second American priest, John Kelly, had lost heart and had returned to the United States.
In all, seven missionaries died of various tropical diseases by the end of the first year. By August 1844, only Fr. Bessieux remained at the mission of Cape Palmas and Brother Gregoire at Grand Bassam.
The two boarded a French ship that was heading for Gabon; when they arrived at Libreville, they decided to stay. That day, September 28, 1844, marks the beginning of the mission in Central Africa. Fr. Bessieux described their aim in a letter: we are here “to work for the salvation of souls and to give them knowledge of a religion which will bring them great joy”.