Closer than they appear: Archbishop of Kumasi, Ghana, makes joyful visit to Diocese of Fort Worth
ARLINGTON — The distance is long, but the bond is strong between the Archdiocese of Kumasi, Ghana, and the Diocese of Fort Worth. Archbishop Gabriel Justice Yaw Anokye of Kumasi reinforced the enduring relationship with a visit to the Diocese of Fort Worth during Labor Day weekend.
Three priests from the Archdiocese of Kumasi serve as missionaries in North Texas: Monsignor Francis Boakye Tawiah, parochial vicar at St. Philip the Apostle in Flower Mound; Father Philip Boateng Brembah, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Arlington; and Father Peter Wiafe Akenteng, parochial vicar of St. Joseph Parish in Arlington.
During his visit, Archbishop Anokye celebrated Mass at each of the parishes where priests from Ghana are assigned. Also, he and the three Ghanaian priests met with Bishop Michael Olson, Father Jonathan Wallis, and Father Brett Metzler.
In 2020, Bishop Olson, accompanied by Father Maurice Moon, visited Archbishop Anokye in Kumasi, and this August, Father Wallis, diocesan vicar general, and Fr. Metzler traveled to Ghana and spent three weeks with the archbishop.
After Bishop Olson met with Archbishop Anokye, he posted on social media a note of thanks to “Archbishop Justice Gabriel Anokye of Kumasi, Ghana, for the gift of his priests and for the fraternal and apostolic collegiality that we share.”
A joyful Mass
In addition to strengthening brotherly friendships between the priests, Archbishop Anokye celebrated Mass with more than 200 members of the Ghanaian Catholic Community on September 3 at St. Joseph Parish. The liturgy, celebrated in Twi and English, was marked by joyful music and cultural traditions from Ghana.
Archbishop Anokye began his homily by telling the congregation he was visiting the 23 priests from his archdiocese who serve in various locations in the U.S., and then he added, “When I come to see my priests, I come to see you.”
He thanked the Ghanaian Catholic Community for “keeping the faith alive…. You came here to keep your faith alive. That is our joy when I come to see you.”
He said he was happy and overwhelmed by their “imagery of faith, of solidarity, and of unity.”
Agatha Agyemang, who sings in the choir, said, “The archbishop’s visit means so much to us. He’s like a father visiting all of his children — the priests from his diocese and us.”
Music plays a central part in the liturgy, and the congregation sang and swayed with the choir. Many waved small white cloths that symbolize victory and purity, according to Agyemang.
At the offertory, each person processed to the front according to the hymn’s rhythm and dropped their donation into a large bowl.
Agyemang explained that the offertory procession shows that each person is grateful to God and offers something to Him. It’s a great moment of thanksgiving, she said, and no one “is empty-handed.”
A second collection followed the cultural tradition of dancing up the aisle to place an offering in the bowl according to the day of the week one was born. More than $8,000 was raised, with the Sunday-born donors contributing the most.
Agyemang and others said each Mass celebrated in the Ghanaian Catholic Community is joyous. “We can keep our culture and raise our children where they learn everything they would learn back in Ghana. We get to worship in our own language,” said the middle-school math teacher.
A growing community
Fr. Akenteng celebrates Mass with about 80 members of the Ghanaian Catholic Community each Sunday at St. Joseph Parish.
The community began in 2004 with a handful of Ghanaian immigrants who gathered for a monthly Rosary. As the numbers grew, the founders, including Juliana Konadu, began communicating with the leadership of the Kumasi and Fort Worth dioceses to request a Ghanaian priest to lead the congregation. Father Philip Boateng Brembah was assigned to the Diocese of Fort Worth in 2008.
Konadu said Ghanaian immigrants living as far away as Frisco and Wylie come each week to participate in the celebration of religious sacraments in Ghanaian languages and culture. In addition to Sunday Mass, the community has weekly religious education and a twice weekly Rosary.
Fr. Brembah said the Ghanaian Catholic Community helps immigrants and their children bridge both cultures. “Your customs, your traditions make you who you are. It’s our responsibility that Catholics from Ghana can worship here like they worship back home,” he said.
The pastor of St. Vincent de Paul, ordained 25 years ago, described the visit from Archbishop Anokye as “fulfilling.” When the diocesan priests of Ghana and Fort Worth gather, “We understand each other. Faith is the same everywhere. Love and friendship binds everyone around the world, especially our two dioceses,” said Fr. Brembah.