André Duguy was born on March 3, 1906 in Saint-Étienne-de-Montluc, a large village of about 4,000 inhabitants in the département of Loire-Atlantique. His father, Philbert Duguy, was a clockmaker in his village, his mother was named Marguerite Blot, and he had an older sister. Until he went away for his military service, he hardly left his home village, which is where he learned clockmaking from his father.
After his military service, he attended Saint-Ilan school in his home diocese. Two years later, in September of 1929, he entered the novitiate of the Holy Spirit Fathers in Neufgranche, Alsace, as he wanted to become a missionary. He entered the order on September 28 of the following year, and went on to pursue his studies in philosophy and theology in the scholasticates of Mortain, in Normandy, and Chevilly-la-Rue, near Paris, where he was ordained as a priest on October 5, 1935.
In July of 1936 he was sent to Guinea, where he devoted eight years of his life to the missions in Mongo, Malouma, and the supply center in Conakry. Apparently, for reasons related to his health, he then spent ten months in the large vineyards owned by the Holy Spirit fathers in Misserguin, near Oran. In 1945, his superiors gave him charge of the postulancy of Langonnet, in the diocese of Vannes. He moved on from a brief stay there to Marseille, where he worked for two years in the supply center there.
In the spring of 1948, when he was forty-two, he was sent to Senegal, first as a vicar in Dakar. Five years later he was carrying out his ministry on the river, near Saint-Louis. After a long sabbatical in the mission in Auteuil, he returned to the capital city of Senegal, where he served as a vicar again, and also as the archivist of the diocese. In 1963 he was appointed to be the priest of Gorée, and he stayed on as archivist of the archbishopric. From 1968 to 1975, he served as chaplain in the city’s hospitals.
For reasons related to his health, he retired somewhat from the work right in Dakar, and stayed with the principal superior of the Holy Spirit Fathers. However, on March 11, 1978, he had to return to France.
He lived in the Spiritan house in Langonnet for three years, after which time he asked if he could move to Piré, in the diocese of Rennes. On August 9, 1984, he suffered a hemiplegia that led to his death eighteen days later.
He left behind significant historical material relating to Senegal and to Gorée, in particular. Although he was very generous in sharing his great learning with all who came to him, he was very modest, and did not want his work to be published. His manuscripts, however, bear witness to his patient work as a historian.
This article, reprinted here with permission, is taken from Hommes et Destins: Dictionnaire biographique d’Outre-Mer [Men and Destinies: Overseas Biographical Dictionary], published in 1977 by the Académie des Sciences d’Outre-Mer (15, rue de la Pérouse, 75116 Paris, France). All rights reserved.