The Ghanaian Catholic Community in the Bronx, (from Christ the King and St. Margaret Mary Churches) celebrated Ghana’s 54th Independence Anniversary on Sunday, March 6th, 2011 with the Most Reverend Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of New York, as the Principal Celebrant at Our Lady of Grace Roman Catholic Church, Bronx, New York.
The Church was filled to full capacity with joy and excitement. The Pastor of the Church, Rev. Fr. Levelt Germain, warmly welcomed the Archbishop and the Ghanaian Community to his Parish. At the beginning of the Mass, the Presidents of the Ghanaian Catholic Community presented to the Archbishop, a set of vestments made of rich Kente cloth from Ghana, which he blessed and wore for the Mass. High personalities present included Ghanaian Clergy and others in the New York area, Commissioners of the Archdiocesan Office of Black Ministry, the Asantefuohene of New York, Nana Okokyeredom Acheampong Owoahene Tieku, Nana Kwabena Amakye, Akwamuhene of the Asanteman Association of New York, Barima Kwaku Agyeman Duah, the Bronxhene of New York, Mr. Grant Ntrakwa, the head of Chancery of Ghana’s Permanent Mission to the UN in new York, Mr. Daniel Clottey, Consular Officer, Mr. Mahama Y. Amantana, Protocol Officer, Mr. James Tigah, head of Treasury and Mr. William Awinador Kanyirige, Deputy Permanent Representative of Ghana Mission.
The Archbishop of New York, Most Reverend Timothy M. Dolan, said that he was very happy to join the Ghanaian Community for the first time as they celebrate Ghana’s 54th Independence Anniversary “waving the colorful flag of Ghana, gorgeously dressed in typical Ghanaian Kente cloth and really enjoying your country’s independence anniversary.” He also warned that much as celebrating independence is a good thing, what we should beware of is never to gain independence from God. In his remarks, Rev. Fr. Francis Kwame Anane, one of the Chaplains of the Ghanaian Catholic Community in the Bronx, said “today is indeed historic for all Ghanaian Catholics in New York, because it marks the first time we have the opportunity to celebrate the Holy Liturgy with the Archbishop of New York”. The two Communities used to be one, worshipping at Christ the King Church. A few years ago, they suffered an unfortunate split which saw some members worshipping at St. Margaret Mary Church. Fr. Anane emphasized that “we deeply regret this split but, guided by the wise Ghanaian proverb which says ‘when you fall down due to a misstep, you have to change the way you walk’, I am very glad to say that the two communities have resolved to reunite, and the result of this reunification journey is what we are all witnessing here today”. Fr. Anane noted that as a result of the fast-growing membership, the Ghanaian Catholic Community is beset with a number of challenges which include, lack of a place to worship, lack of adequate facilities to take care of activities such as society meetings, Sunday school for the kids, and a convenient time to have several of the activities that keep members together and active. The Youth and Young Adults in this united Ghanaian Catholic Community are about 250 active, enterprising and industrious young people, who have their own Youth Choir, Gospel Band, Altar Servers, Lectors and Ushers. Our biggest problem is getting a place for them to meet often for rehearsals so that they can develop their God-given talents to the full, for the betterment of the Community and service to humanity.
“We are appealing to you, Your Excellency, to come to our aid, help us to get a Parish that we can call our own. We have diligently done our homework about the responsibilities and challenges of running a parish and we have challenged ourselves for the tasks ahead with the declaration of our first President, Osagyefoo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah on the eve of Ghana’s Independence 1957 that ‘the black man is capable of taking care of his own destiny’.” Father Anane paid a glowing tribute to some of the leaders who have played an immense role in our journey, especially the Archdiocesan Office of Black Ministry, led by Brother Tyrone Davis, and the Commissioners who have helped in bringing the reunification this far. Basing his homily on forgiveness, unity and peacefulness to our neighbors, Archbishop Dolan said that Jesus Christ, the Savior of mankind, did not sow seeds of disunity. On the contrary, He always preached for love, unity and forgiveness. He therefore encouraged us to emulate Him as we celebrate our nation’s 54th Independence Anniversary. He also said “As a united Ghanaian Catholic Community I am urging you all to let God, Love, Respect, Understanding, Dedication and Commitment be your cornerstone”. Archbishop Timothy Dolan joined the congregation in the joyous waving of the Ghanaian flag throughout the Mass, and he also loved his Ghanaian given name of “Papa Kojo Dolan”. Fr. Konaku Kuusegmeh, Chaplain of the community at Christ the King, thanked the Archbishop immensely for taking time out of his very busy schedule to celebrate with us. He also thanked everybody who played a special role in putting the celebration together, especially Fr. Levelt Germain who made us feel very much at home.
In his closing remarks, Archbishop Dolan expressed his gratitude and appreciation to the Community for giving him the opportunity to celebrate with us. He noted that the Ghanaian Catholic Community is a beacon of hope and inspiration for the Archdiocese of New York. The evening ended with a beautiful reception in the Church hall with lots of Ghanaian dishes and dancing.