The joy of Christ infuses Father Brembah's 25 years of priesthood
ARLINGTON — A contagious sense of joy and gleeful bonhomie emanates from Father Philip Brembah of Arlington's St. Vincent de Paul Parish, coupled with a disposition to focus on positivity and opportunity in a world too often seeming to lack either.
All such attributes were ever present July 18 as parishioners and guests gathered to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Fr. Brembah's ordination. Many who attended the celebration remained on hand to personally visit with and thank Fr. Brembah during a reception featuring speakers and the music of Fr. Brembah's native Ghana.
It feels a lifetime ago yet only yesterday, Fr. Brembah said of his July 1998 ordination in the Archdiocese of Kumasi, Ghana.
“I am filled with joy,” Fr. Brembah said during his homily. “Since , so many things have happened, but it also seems to be not too long of a time ago.”
A cause for celebration and gratitude, Fr. Brembah said of his anniversary, but also a reminder to focus on something bigger than himself.
“First I give thanks to God,” Fr. Brembah said. “Because it is by His grace that I am where I am and what I am today. I thank God every day for being with me, guarding me, protecting me, and bringing me this far.”
Fr. Brembah has served in the Diocese of Fort Worth since 2008, having previously served at St. Joseph Parish in Arlington, Holy Family of Nazareth Parish in Vernon, St. Joseph Parish in Crowell, and St. Mary Parish in Quanah before coming to St. Vincent de Paul about five years ago.
God works in mysterious ways, Fr. Brembah mused.
Despite his close friendship with his namesake and mentor, Father Philip Boateng, as a youth growing up, Fr. Brembah initially harbored dreams of studying law or politics, or becoming a soldier, instead of entering the seminary. Enter he did, however, and, after a discernment year, he realized he was where God needed him to be.
Tragedy struck soon after.
“My father died when I entered the seminary that first year,” Fr. Brembah said. “I became responsible for the upbringing of my younger siblings, and that was a heavy time.”
Saddened but determined, Fr. Brembah continued his journey toward priesthood and, thanks to support from his mother and siblings, persisted, and ultimately succeeded.
“I thank my mother and my siblings,” Fr. Brembah said. “This is what I seek in my life, that I will live this vocation until the end.”
Of God's mysterious ways, Fr. Brembah can't help but smile.
“I never thought about or wanted to teach,” Fr. Brembah said with a laugh. “Naturally, my first appointment was to teach at the school where I had gone to seminary.”
From there, Fr. Brembah's priestly duties took him to the Netherlands, then back to Ghana, then, finally, to Texas. A journey of unexpected twists and turns at times, Fr. Brembah said, but all in service of Christ.
“It has been a very beautiful and wonderful journey, and I do not regret for one moment being a priest,” Fr. Brembah said. “I hope and believe [my father] would be very happy and proud to see his son become a priest.”
Fr. Brembah's sole moment of sadness during the night was that his father did not live long enough to see him become a priest.
“Please remember me in your prayers, and pray for the departed soul of my dad,” Fr. Brembah said.
Fr. Brembah thanked Monsignor Francis Boakye Tawiah of St. Philip the Apostle Parish in Flower Mound with whom he attended seminary.
“A brother, a friend,” Fr. Brembah said. “You give me counsel and feed me. Thank you for being here tonight to support me.”
Special thanks, too, went out to the parishioners and staff of St. Vincent de Paul.
“Since the moment I stepped into this parish I have always been happy, and the reason for my joy is you,” Fr. Brembah said.
Joy, Fr. Brembah said, over being part of a vibrant parish of roughly 60 active ministries.
“I remind my staff that we are doing ministry, and that ministry is more than a job,” Fr. Brembah said. “I remind our parishioners that we are not a social society but here as part of the Body of Christ and as such an extension of the sacraments we celebrate here and carry out into the world.”
Celebrating the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, is the best part of being a priest, Fr. Brembah said. Challenges, he added, are to be met rather than fretted over.
“I don't become disheartened over challenges because I see too many opportunities through collaborating and cooperating through ministry,” Fr. Brembah said.
Parishioner D'Ann Gonzalez characterized Fr. Brembah as welcoming, active, and involved. Gonzalez' husband, Daniel Gonzalez, agreed.
“He's so personable and likable, just always available,” Daniel Gonzalez said. “He comes to all the meetings, hangs out when we're barbecuing, doing fish fries.”
Love, laughter, and sincere efforts toward bringing everyone together in the spirit of being a good shepherd, is how parishioner Tim Beary described Fr. Brembah.
Fr. Brembah expressed appreciation for the well wishes but reiterated the importance of maintaining a Christ-centered life in an often-dark world.
“Distractions are all around that come from within and the outside,” Fr. Brembah said. “Once we focus on Christ, the distractions still come, but we can sidestep them, maintain focus and drive, and not get off track.”