Obuasi gets its third Bishop
History was made in the Catholic Diocese of Obuasi when on Saturday, January 10, 2015, its third Bishop, Most Rev. John Yaw Afoakwah was ordained and installed at the Len Clay Stadium at Obuasi with a call on him to discharge his duties as a father and a brother.
Most Rev. Peter K. Sarpong, Archbishop Emeritus of Kumasi, who preached the homily at the well-attended ordination and installation Mass, urged the new Bishop to love all whom God had placed in his care- the priests, the deacons, the poor and naked, the immigrant, the stranger, the religious men and women.
He advised the new Bishop to “Have a good conscience and God will defend you securely; no one can hurt you if God wishes to help you.
“You are going to be a Bishop in order to do one thing: to love your neighbour more intensely. Loving your neighbour in turn consists in praying for your neighbour and in suffering for him or her. Christ himself is your exemplar in this. He had the time, the patience, and the courage to pray for his tormentors when he was on the Cross.”
Archbishop Sarpong reminded him that Bishops were witnesses of Christ to all mankind, asking him not limit himself only to those who had already acknowledged the Prince of Pastors but must also devote his energies to those who had strayed in any way from the path of truth.
Enumerating the duties of a Bishop, the Emeritus Archbishop of Kumasi said Bishops were to proclaim the Gospel of Christ to men as one of their principal duties, noting that they should present the doctrine of Christ in a manner suited to the needs of the time, so as to make it relevant to those difficulties and questions which men find especially worrying and intimidating.
Adding he said, they were to help to maintain close relation with the society in which they live and should use the various modern means of communication available for proclaiming the Christian doctrine.
He quoted Pope Paul VI who said “It would be sinful for us to ignore the modern means of communication in evangelizing the world.”
He said Bishops should ensure that catechists were well adequately prepared and must be mindful of the fact that they have been chosen from among men and made their representatives before God.
They should promote the sanctity of their clergy, their religious, and their laity according to the vocation of each individual. The Bishop should be among his people as one who serves, as a good shepherd who knows his sheep and who is known by his sheep.
Bishop Afoakwah was consecrated and installed by his predecessor, Most Rev. Gabriel Justice Anokye, Archbishop of Kumasi, assisted by Most Rev. Thomas Mensah, Archbishop Emeritus of Kumasi, who was the first Bishop of Obuasi.
The ceremony was witnessed by large crowd including all the Catholic Bishops of Ghana, Priests and Religious; Political and Traditional Leaders and the lay faithful from far and near as well as the Noble Order of Knights and Ladies of Marshall including the Deputy Supreme Knight, Worthy Bro. Ernest Amoako-Arhen.
As part of the ceremony, there were congratulatory messages from the Apostolic Nuncio to Ghana, Most Rev. Jean Marie-Spiech; Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference (GCBC), Diocese of Obuasi, Diocesan Laity Council, Traditional Leaders, the Regional Minister and the Obuasi Diocesan Priests Association.
Bishop Osei-Bonsu, President of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference thanked Archbishop Anokye for holding the fort as the Apostolic Administrator since May 15, 2012 and congratulated Bishop Afoakwah, saying that “We are aware of your immense teaching and pastoral experience as well as your great expertise in the areas of catechetics and Biblical Apostolate.”
He said the GCBC was confident that he would make an invaluable contribution to it and bring new insights to its work and its discussions, assuring him of the Conference’s support as he begins the learning process of a Bishop.
He, appealed to the Priests, Religious and the lay faithful to assist and support their new Bishop, urging them to see themselves as all members of one family of God.
“By virtue of our baptism and membership of the Church, there is no longer jew or Greek; there is no longer slave or free; there is no longer male or female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”
On behalf of the GCBC, Bishop Osei-Bonsu presented a token envelope to support the work of the new Bishop.
In his welcome, Archbishop Anokye acknowledged that it was within the Christian bounce of sobriety and propriety that “our joy is understandably and indescribably as great as you can imagine.
Bishop Afoakwah was born at Mampamhwe, a village at Adansi, in the Ashanti Region on January 26, 1955 from a religious Catholic family. Both parents are deceased. His father, Opanin Kwame Afoakwah died when he was eleven years and his mother Anna Yaa Tabuah, when he was a Deacon.
He started schooling at the age of five. In 1970, he completed his Basic Education and received his Middle School Leaving Certificate at the St. Peter’s Boys’ School, Kumasi.
He proceeded to St. John’s Secondary School at Sekondi, in the Western Region and obtained his Ordinary Level (O’ Level) in 1975. His passion for teaching made him study at the Wesley Teacher Training College and graduated with Certificate A in 1978.
He did his Advanced Level (A’ Level) studies in private. He first taught as a teacher at Collins Secondary Commercial School (Collins Senior High School) at Agogo from 1978 to 1981.
From 1981 to 1983, he studied at the Collegio Mater Ecclesia, Castel Gandolfo of the Pontifical Urban University, Rome, Italy and obtained B.A. in Religious Education.
He studied at the St. Peter’s Regional Seminary in Pedu, Cape Coast and completed in 1992 with B.A. in Religion with Sociology from the University of Ghana, Legon, Accra.
He obtained his Post Graduate Diploma in Education (PDGE) from the Cape Coast University, Cape Coast in 2004 and his Master of Science in Education at Le Moyne College, Syracuse, N.Y., U.S.A in 2010.
Bishop Afoakwah was ordained a Priest on July 11, 1992 at Adugyama, Ashanti in the Archdiocese of Kumasi.
His first appointment after ordination was Chaplain and Teacher, Director of Guidance and Counselling at the St. Louis Training College, Kumasi now College of Education. He was at the same time the Director of the Catholic School of Evangelization of the Archdiocese of Kumasi.
In 1995, when the Diocese of Obuasi was carved out of Kumasi Archdiocese, he was incardinated to the Diocese of Obuasi.
His assignments in the Diocese includes the following: from 1995 to 2007 he was a teacher of Religious and Moral Education, Guidance and Counselling at the Christ the King Catholic Secondary School, Diocesan Director of Catechetics, Diocesan Coordinator of Social Communication, and Diocesan Chaplain of Catholic Charismatic Renewal; 1996-2002 he was the Parish Priest of Holy Trinity Church, Anyinam, Obuasi.
From 2004-2007, he was the Rector of Corpus Christi Catholic Church, Akaporiso, Obuasi; and from 2007 to 2011, he was the Parochial Vicar of the Blessed Trinity Parish, Owego, Rochester Diocese, New York, U.S.A.
He was the Rector of St. Louis Rectorate, Bodwesango, Chaplain, teacher and member of the Board of St. Louis Clinic, Bodwesango and Coordinator of Catechetics and Education until his appointment as Bishop of the Diocese of Obuasi on November 22, 2014.
The new Bishop has the natural desire to teach and as part of his desire to enlighten Christians in the Catholic faith, he organizes Seminars and other programmes to share with them the deposit of the rich experience he had acquired from the Church.
He loved to counsel people to make right choices and make appropriate decisions in life.
The Diocese of Obuasi was created on March 3, 1995 with 26 Diocesan Priests and three missionary Priests. Currently, the number had shot up to 82 Diocesan Priests and six Religious Priests with 27 Religious Women.
Written by Bro Damien Avevor, Council 10.