Catholic Church Winds Up Centenary Celebration in Northern Ghana
2007-04-25 12:47:47This article has been read 1313 times.Mr. Boniface Gambila, Upper East Regional Minister, on Monday paid tribute to the Catholic Church for its immense contribution to the socio-economic development of the Upper West, Upper East, and Northern regions (Northern Ghana) and the nation as a whole.
He noted that during its 100 years of evangelisation in that part of the country, the Church had spread the gospel and contributed to the improvement of health and education, provided potable water, engaged in income generation activities and conflict prevention and peace-building. Mr. Gambila stated these when he delivered a message on behalf of President John Agyekum Kufuor at the closing ceremony of the yearlong centenary celebration of 100 years of evangelisation by the Catholic Church in Northern Ghana, at the Navrongo.
He said the impact of the Church in educational development was particularly evident everywhere in Northern Ghana.
Mr. Gambila cited the establishment of St. John Bosco's Teacher Training College and the Notre Dame Seminary Secondary School both in Navrongo, which had turned out illustrious citizens including Professor John Kaburiseh, Vice Chancellor of the University for Development Studies and Mr. Joseph Kofi Adda, the Minister of Energy.
"The Government of Ghana cherishes the partnership between the Church and the State, and as both celebrate important milestones; Ghana's 50th Independence anniversary and the Catholic Church's 100 years of evangelisation, we need to strengthen this partnership so that we can make even greater achievements in the years ahead," said the Regional Minister.
Mr. Gambila urged the people of Northern Ghana to express their gratitude to God for the 100 years of evangelisation by eschewing conflicts, litigations and chieftaincy and land disputes. In a sermon, His Eminence, Ivan Cardinal Dias, Special Envoy of Pope Benedict XVI to the Centenary celebration, praised the three White missionaries of the Church who first arrived in Navrongo from neighbouring Burkina Faso in April 1906 to begin evangelisation in the local communities without any discrimination.
He said in spite of the initial cultural, social, political and economic setbacks the pioneer missionaries encountered, they eventually overcame all obstacles and propagated the Gospel, which had begun bearing fruit even to this day.
"Thanks to the glorious past, the Church in Northern Ghana today presents a consoling picture, even more when considered within the broader framework of the whole Catholic scenario in the country which has blossomed into 18 dioceses, and has the honour of having two Cardinals among its bishops." the Envoy said.
Cardinal Dias urged Christians to recall the missionary mandate received from Jesus Christ enjoining them to preach the Gospel to every nation, and the challenges posed by that proclamation.
He also said challenges confronting Christians in particular required that they worked harder towards the development of the Church. His Eminence, Ivan Cardinal Dias said, "On the one hand, we must beware of the globalising trends which seek social and economic progress at any cost, even at the risk of losing one's own soul. On the other hand, we must also be alert to the demands posed by the new methods of evangelisation, including information technology and the media in all its forms, which transcend all geographical, cultural and social boundaries."
He urged Catholics to be mindful of the Church's commitment to peace, development, liberation, and human rights, especially of those in the minority, the empowerment of women and the education of children. The Pope's Envoy asked God's blessings for the political and spiritual leaders of the country, and prayed the Almighty to give them wisdom and courage, while granting the people abiding peace and abundant prosperity.
In a speech read on his behalf, His Eminence Peter Cardinal Porekuu Dery, Archbishop of the Tamale Ecclesiastical Province, observed that the coming of the Christian faith to Northern Ghana had positively transformed the lives of the people.
Cardinal Dery said, "Thanks to God we are no longer overwhelmed by ignorance, superstition, disease and hatred for one another." He, however, cautioned the Church not to be complacent, as there were still people who have not understood properly the essence of Christianity.
Cardinal Dery said, "For the next 100 years, let us resolve to foster greater love and unity amongst ourselves and promote healthy dialogue with other faiths."
He urged Christians to follow the examples of Jesus Christ by pursuing chastity and obedience.
On April 23, 1906 the first three White Catholic Missionaries, Father Jean-Marie Cholet, Father Oscar Morin and Brother Eugene Gall, arrived in Navrongo from the then Upper Volta after a 33-day long journey on horseback and laid the foundation of the Church in the Northern corner of the country.
In May last year, the Catholic Mission launched a yearlong celebration to commemorate 100 years of evangelisation in the area. The celebration ended officially on Monday, with a solemn Pontifical Mass at the Navrongo Cathedral, led by Cardinal Dias who came from Rome to represent the Pope at the celebration.
Also in attendance were His Grace George Kochery, Apostolic Nuncio of Ghana, Peter Cardinal Appiah Turkson, Metropolitan Archbishop of Cape Coast, Archbishop Charles Palmer-Buckle, Metropolitan Archbishop of Accra, the Most Reverend Francis Lodonu, Bishop of Ho Diocese, and Most Reverend Bishop Lucas Abadamloora of the Navrongo-Bolgatanga Diocese. The rest were Most Reverend Gregory Kpiebaya, Metropolitan Archbishop of Tamale, Most Reverend Paul Bemile, Bishop of Wa Diocese, Most Reverend Vincent Boi-Noi, Bishop of Yendi Diocese, Mr. C.K. Tedam, Council of State Member, Mr. Ambrose Dery, Upper West Regional Minister, Mr. Emmanuel Chegeweh, Kassena-Nankana District Chief Executive, Mrs. Agnes Chegabatia, Member of Parliament for Builsa North, as well as priests and laiety of the Catholic Church.