Catholic Diocese of Sekondi - Takoradi
HISTORY OF THE
CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF SEKONDI-TAKORADI
On the 21st of November, 1969 by a decree of the Holy See, the Diocese of Sekondi-Takoradi was created with territory taken from the Archdiocese of Cape Coast. It is co-extensive with the Western Region of Ghana, Most Rev. Joseph Amihere Essuah, Bishop of Kumasi Diocese since July 1962, was appointed the first Bishop of the new diocese. There are a few places in this diocese, which were touched by the preaching of the first Missionaries during the definite implantation of the faith in Ghana. Soon after the first Missionaries, Frs. Augustine Moreau and Eugene Murat arrived at Elmina; it was inevitable that they would soon look beyond Elmina to other places where the seed of the faith could be sown.
And so, in 1882, Fr. Moreau came to Axim. He was well received by the Chiefs who donated a piece of land for a house, a school and church. Fr. Michon who took the place of Fr. Moreau became ill and returned to France. There was no replacement for him, and as a result the land, which was given to the Church, was taken back by the people. In between this period Fathers came and went, and it was not until 1902 that the foundation of Axim as a station was definitively decided upon with Fr. Ffleger as the first Superior of Axim. The station was dedicated to St. Anthony of Padua. Axim rightly then claims the honour of being the second resident station of the country.
Incidentally when Fr. Moreau’s health broke down and was ordered by the doctor to go home, he died there and was buried at sea opposite Axim. It must be pointed out at the outset that, like the Apostles being sent to the towns to which our Lord would himself come later, in most cases, it was zealous Catholics who often first brought the good news to most of our present parishes.
In 1880, one Mr. W. J. Nelson, an Elminian, who went to Shama to trade, brought the faith to the people of Shama. The nucleus of the church was his household. On Sundays a service was held at his house. This was attended not only by members of his household, but also by a number of people who felt attracted to the new faith. The attendance at those services which were held at Mr. Nelson’s residence steadily grew. This induced Mr. Nelson to go to Elmina to ask for the ministrations of a priest. Fr. Gronice came down with Mr. Dehere and one teacher, Mr. Mensah to Shama towards the end of 1889. Father left for Elmina a few days later, leaving Mr. Mensah as catechist admirably. A number of children were gathered together and taught.
And it was on January 9, 1890 that Fr. Gronice said his first Mass at Shama. Later Fr. Pellot came to administer the Sacrament of Baptism to a number of people who had been prepared by catechist Mensah. SeKondi was the next field of evangelisation by the missionaries. It received its first visit by a priest in 1903. On February 14, 1904, the first baptisms were administered by Father J. Oge, who was also the first resident priest.
In the Diocese of Sekondi-Takoradi the pattern of evangelisation was to concentrate on the coastal regions. Soon this was to change, with the push being made for the interior, and thus Prestea became the next field of activity.
It will be recalled that Axim was the second place and it was from Axim that two of the Christians went to bring the light of the faith to Prestea. This was in 1905. In 1907, Father J. Hubster visited Prestea from Sekondi. On a second visit in December 1910, he baptised 12 infants.
Prestea was paid subsequent visits by priests from Sekondi and Dunkwa-On-Offin. In 1940, Prestea became a resident station with Fr. Taes as the first resident priest. On the 23rd of May, 1909, Msgr. Ignatius Francis Hummel who was the third Vicar Apostolic of the then Gold Coast personally entrusted the care of the little flock in Amanful (Takoradi) into the hands of a Committee of four members. With constant help from Adjoa Catholic members, the flock in Amanful kept growing, and so, after the acquisition of a piece of land in August 1911, the foundation stone for a church was laid in September 3, 1911, by Fr. J. Hubster. On June 9, 1912 the first 6 adults were baptised and towards the end of 1918, Msgr. Hummel blessed the completed church, assisted by Rev. Frs. Hubster and Onimus. All this while, Takoradi was an outstation of Sekondi. On the 2nd of November, 1948, Takoradi was officially opened as a separate resident station by a decree of the late Archbishop W. T. Porter. In January 1953 a well-organised drive was made to build a new church.
In August of the same year, Archbishop Porter approved the plan for the church, and his Vicar General, Very Rev. Fr. Anthony van Hout laid the cornerstone. Work on the new church steadily progressed and so on the 12th December, 1954, Archbishop W. T. Porter blessed the Foundation-Stone which was laid by Honourable Kojo Botsio, then Minister of State. The old church was dedicated to St. Joseph. As Takoradi is a port, it was suggested that the new church should have a new title relating to the character of the position of Takoradi. Archbishop Porter approved the new title: ‘Star of the Sea’ – Our Lady, ‘Star of the Sea’.
By a decree issued on the 31st of May, 1961 by the Archbishop of Cape Coast, Most Rev. John Kodwo Amissah. Takoradi was canonically erected into a parish with the late Very Rev. Fr. Denis Florack, S.M.A. as the first Parish Priest. As was said at the beginning of this historical sketch, by a decree of the Holy See dated the 21st of November, 1969, the Diocese of Sekondi-Takoradi was created with territory detached from the Archdiocese of Cape Coast. Takoradi was made the seat of the new diocese.
Our Lady, ‘Star of the Sea’ Parish Church became the Cathedral Church. Most Rev. Joseph Amihere Essuah was enthroned on the 15th March, 1970. The Assinie coast had certainly seen some missionary activity at the beginning of the 17th Century. French Capuchins were certainly in Assinie in the Ivory Coast towards the end of the 16th Century, and must have probably visited even if briefly, Half Assini.
In any case, at the beginning of the 17th Century, French Capuchins fled in a little fishing boat and came to Axim. The people whom they were evangelising in Assini had turned against them. It is with this background in mind, that we came to one of the next places where the faith was planted within thirty years after the arrival of the first missionaries at Elmina. Half Assini was founded in 1912 with the arrival of Rev. Fathers Hoeppner and Grando. But it was with the arrival of Rev. Fr. George Fischer, that indomitable priest who was to spread his missionary activities through the length and breathe of the whole of the extreme west of the country, that Half Assini was firmly established. This was in February 1914.
“The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church”. Like the grain that must die in order to grow and yield fruit, there is no doubt that the blood of the early fathers, most of whom hardly touched our shores when they were snatched away in the prime of their lives, helped greatly to implant the Catholic Faith on our soil.
Preceded in most cases by lay apostles, that it is Catholics who had themselves recently received the faith, the missionaries often came upon fields, which had already been prepared. Thus when Fathers Hubster, Onimus and others visited Asankrangwa in 1914, the ground had been prepared by Francis Kwaku Ampong and others. And on the 10th May, 1914, the first baptisms were administered. From Asankrangwa, the next place of missionary activity was Enchi. It was opened in 1916. In 1954, Fr. H. Sevrience had the task of preparing Enchi as a residential station. And it was not until November, 1959 that it finally became a residential station.
Brief mention may be made of the planting of the faith in the rest of the stations. Aboso was opened in 1907. Fr. James Oge was the first resident priest and remained in resident station till 1969 when it was closed down. On the 1st of November, 1975, it was re-opened as a parish on its own. Eikwe was a parish, was canonically established in 1961. But already in 1915 the first baptisms were administered to five adults. In 1923, one Peter Yaw Kurankyi, a fishmonger with the faith, was instructed and baptised. It was only logical that when he returned to his native town Asafo, he would become an apostle to his own people. And so he proved to be. But he was to be ridiculed and called a madman before, later all the people of Asafo came to embrace the faith and it was with festivity and rejoicings that Father Haas entered triumphantly Asafo on the 22nd of October, 1924.
Sefwi Wiawso was visited in 1924 by Father Haas. It continued to be visited regularly. It was officially opened as a parish on 20th December, 1964, with Fr. P. Giebels as the first parish priest. Unlike in the beginning when the missionaries had to start everything from scratch, when the diocese was created in 1969, there were already in existence the usual concomitant projects of evangelisation, schools, clinics, hospitals, etc.
Before the creation of the Catholic Diocese of Sekondi-Takoradi, evangelization had taken root in fourteen places, which had already been established parishes. Until his sudden death on 6th October, 1980, Most Rev. Joseph Amihere Essuah had been working with the fourteen existing parishes.
On the death of Most Rev. Joseph Amihere Essuah, the Diocesan Consultors met on October 23rd 1980 and appointed Very Rev. Fr. Joseph Kodwo Enoo as the Vicar Capitular. Very Rev. Fr. Joseph Enoo passed away on the 24th of January 1981.
Very Rev. Fr. Charles Kweku Sam, the then Parish Priest of St. Matthew’s Catholic Church, Tarkwa, was appointed the Diocesan Administrator on January 30th 1981, and was subsequently appointed the 2nd Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sekondi-Takoradi on 18th December 1981 by His Holiness Pope St. John Paul II. He took canonical possession of the Diocese on February 20th 1982.
On the death of Most Rev. Charles Kweku Sam on January 13th 1998, the Diocesan Consultors met on January 14th 1998, and Very Rev. Fr. John Martin Darko, the then Vicar general, was appointed the Diocesan Administrator, and later as the 3rd Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sekondi-Takoradi on 11th July 1998. His Episcopal Ordination and Installation took place at Takoradi on October 10th 1998, by the then Most Rev. Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, Archbishop of Cape Coast Ecclesiastical Province as the Principal Consecrator.
The year 1999 saw the creation of a new Diocese of Wiawso, an area which was originally part of the Catholic Diocese of Sekondi-Takoradi.
Most Rev. John Martin Darko resigned on health grounds on 14th December 2011 and died on January 12th 2013. Following his resignation, the Holy Father, Pope Francis appointed Most Rev. Matthias Kobena Nketsiah, Metropolitan Archbishop of Cape Coast additionally as the Apostolic Administrator of the catholic Diocese of Sekondi-Takoradi on 14th December 2011 until 3rd July 2014 when Msgr. John Bonaventure Kwofie, CSSp was appointed the 4th Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sekondi-Takoradi. His Episcopal Ordination and Installation took place at Takoradi on 13th September 2014 by His Eminence Peter Cardinal Kodwo Appiah Turkson as the Principal Consecrator.
On January 2nd 2019, Most Rev. John Bonaventure Kwofie was appointed the Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Accra, and became Apostolic Administrator of the Catholic Diocese of Sekondi-Takoradi on 1st March 2019.
GENERAL STATISTICS OF THE DIOCESE
No. of Catholics
No. of Ghanaian Priests
No. of Expatriate Priests
No. of Ghanaian Sisters
No. of Expatriate Sisters
No. of Ghanaian Brothers
No. of Expatriate Brothers
No. of Lay Missionaries
No. of. Permanent Deacons
No. of Schools:
Junior Sec. School-JHS
Senior Sec. School-SHS
Teachers’ Training College
CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF SEKONDI-TAKORADI
The Catholic Diocese of Sekondi-Takoradi is situated in the South-Western part of Ghana. The Diocese is bordered on the West by La Cote d’Ivoire, on the East by the Central Region of Ghana and to the South, with the Gulf of Guinea. The See of the Diocese is Sekondi-Takoradi also known as the Twin-City.
The diocese has a coastline of about 192 kilometers stretching from Shama in the East (i.e. Shama-Ahanta District) to Newtown in the West (i.e. Jomoro District).
The Western Region can boast of several first and second cycle institutions and a Technical University. However, most of the schools lack basic materials and equipment to enable the teachers give of their best and produce students of high standards.
The Catholic Diocese of Sekondi-Takoradi has been actively involved in promoting health care delivery over the past several decades. However, it was in the 1950s that the church established what could be described as clinics to cater for the ailments of some communities in the rural areas. The clinics were progressively developed to meet the increasing demands of the communities thus making the Church’s role in the development of institutional care in the Western Region.
Additionally, Primary Health Care which one could equate with primary evangelization is also one area which the catholic Church has played a pioneering role as a means of saving the lives of the majority population.
POPULATION OF THE TERRITORY:
A CIVIL DATA
The total population of Western Region according to the up-to-date population census of (2018) is …………… The Catholic component of this population is 419,618.
On the whole we have three (3) ethnic groups, namely, the Ahantas, Nzemas and the Wassas.
THE CIVIL ADMINISTRATION:
Administratively, Western Region is divided into seven (7) districts, namely: Shama-Ahanta East, Ahanta West, Nzema East, Mpohor-Wasa East, Wasa Amnenfi, Wasa West and Jomoro.
They are under their ethnic chiefs but operate under the authority of the Central Government.
Brought together for Administrative purposes s the twin-city of Sekondi-Takoradi, the capital of Western Region and the headquarters of its Administrative authorities.
The Regional Minister for Western Region is Honorable Okyere Darko. He is not a Catholic.
The Region is divided into districts headed by the District Chief Executives and their staff. We have a District Assembly which is under the umbrella of the District Chief Executive. The City Council of Sekondi-Takoradi (Regional Capital) is under supervision of Hon. K. K. Sam. They all work in close collaboration and are responsible to the Regional Minister.
ECONOMIC IMPORTANCE OF THE REGION
THE Region has rich mineral resources namely: Gold and Manganese. Consequently, mining activities are embarked upon.
Oil extraction is also on a large scale.
Gas extraction is on a large scale
Railway networks and a harbor, and also a fishing harbor at Takoradi.
Large scale farming.
B. RELIGIOUS DATA:
i. The total number of baptized registered Catholics is 419,618. They are all of the Latin Rite.
ii. The religious/spiritual life of the elderly Catholics with special reference (to those of 50 years of age and above), is a real model for the younger generation. Their spiritual involvement is really encouraging and exemplary.
iii. Many of the children, below 15 years of age, especially girls, need to be commended highly for the zeal the demonstrate in their participation in the Church’s programs and activities.
iv. The real problem is associated with the youth above 15 years of age. We must admit the fact that the youth are sometimes over-reactionary and over-enthusiastic. They are constantly searching and quite a good number of them have been moving from one Church to another – particularly to the numerous religious sects that are springing up these days.
Looking at the other side of the picture, some of the youth are regular church goers and their seriousness can really be ascertained.
In spite of their faults and weaknesses, they also have great potentialities which must be tapped to build them up as future leaders and as, Vatican Council II’s Decree on the Apostolate of Lay People, Apostolicam Actuositatem, puts it:
“Carried along by their natural ardor and exuberant energy, when awareness of their own
Personality ripens in them, they shoulder responsibilities that are theirs and are eager to
take their place in social and cultural life. If this enthusiasm is penetrated with the spirit
of Christ, animated by a sense of obedience and LOVE towards the pastors of the Church,
a very rich harvest can be expected from it” – AA/12.
In pursuing this goal, the Catholic Diocese of Sekondi-Takoradi has been organizing periodical seminars, workshops, talks and retreats toward integral development of the youth.
We have two (2) types of non-Catholic Christians in this Diocese.
So far there has not been any identification of Christians of the Orthodox Rite in this Diocese. There are however, non-Catholic Christians, namely, the Methodist, Presbyterians, Anglicans and Lutherans. These are established mostly in the urban areas than in the rural areas.
There are inter-religious encounters with them. We sometimes come together to take very important decisions that impinge on the moral and spiritual welfare of Christians in general.
The other groups of non-Catholic Christians are technically referred to as “healing” or “spiritual” churches. Most of these are supported by fanatical Protestants from abroad. They are known under the general names of Äpostolic Churches” and “Pentecostal Churches”.
The following are some of the problems these “healing” or “spiritual” churches pose into the Catholic Church; and because of these it has not been possible to have any meaningful dialogue with them.
They are mostly hostile to the “established” churches especially, the Catholic Church. They are constantly attacking the church, and indulge in the distortion of the church’s doctrines and dogmas to make them look ridiculous. This is, indeed, a challenge to the Catholic Church.
They claim to have all the truth and therefore, believe that members of the “established” churches, especially, the Catholic are lost.
They are bent on employing any devious means on winning members and any consultation with them is used as a testimony to the validity of their activities.
They are fundamentalist in their approach to the Bible and Christianity as such. They have no solid theological foundations and consequently are indifferent to attempt at ecumenical dialogue.
If not all, most of their activities are motivated more from a spirit of competition; and some of their spiritual leaders crave for power, material possessions and autonomy. Hence, they see ecumenical move as an attempt to deprive them of the above values.
Particular features of their worship are clapping of hands, shouting and dancing. Very often in the worship, they are seemingly possessed by spirits.
They seem to be getting more members due to the growing need and awareness for quick material gains and protection from the Evil or Satanic forces. Their foundations might crumble since they quickly split into different groups as new leaders rise and compete, authenticating their cause of action to the claim of receiving revelation from the Holy Spirit.
We also have non-Christians in this Diocese and they are the Muslims and the non-believers (animists). Evidently, the number of the non-believers is greater than the Muslims.
On the surface, non-believers (animists) worship seems to be dying out, but this is not so. Most people of this Diocese and for that matter the whole country still holds on to some of the strong beliefs in African Traditional Religion.
THE PURE-ADHERENTS: these are those who have ignored the Christian message and untouched by it. They are, hereby, referred to as the literati of the Religion. The priests and priestesses continue to exert their influence through their shrines and grottos, divination, etc. People go there to seek spiritual favors for themselves and their families, and for the goodwill of the ancestors.
Gradually, the presence of Islam is being felt in this Diocese and for that matter throughout the whole country. Of late, it is becoming a force to reckon with.
Dialogue between Christians and Muslims has not taken off. There are some difficulties:
Moslems do not accept Christ as the Son of God
They entertain fear that they may be converted into Christianity
Muslims look at Christians in general as infidels and consequently, their school pupils and students will not even enter a Christian Church for fear of being desecrated;
A Muslim girl may never be married to a Christian unless the Christian is prepared to convert to Islam or the girl will be punished by being ostracized. Of late, an intensification of Islamic propaganda has been noticed. The main external sources of support are the Organization of Islamic Conference (O.I.C.) and individual wealthy Arab countries like Saudi-Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, The United Arab Emirates, P.L.O., etc.
It has been critically observed that the heavy Foreign Financial backing for Islam could affect the chances of Christian Evangelization if the Church at home is not supported financially from outside.
Although there are no up-to-date statistics or reliable official figures, the indication is that the Muslim population is gradually increasing.
Though their number is insignificant, there are some who claim that their hopes and aspirations have not been met by the established or main-line churches. In attempt at searching for solutions to their problems and finding real meaning to all that life is about, are under false assurance led to join any of the following: the Eastern Faiths of Bahai, Hare Krishna, Shintoism, Hinduism, etc. It has not been possible to have any meaningful ecumenical dialogue with these sects.