, 12 May, 2020 / 2:40 AM
A call to make the most vulnerable members of the society a priority especially during COVID-19 was the key message at the Chrism Mass celebration, which Ghana’s Archdiocese of Accra had postponed owing to the restrictions of the pandemic in the West African country.
In his homily at the Holy Spirit Cathedral, Archbishop John Bonaventure Kwofie of Accra called on Priests in the Archdiocese to always give precedence to the sick, the poor, the aged, the abandoned and the vulnerable by carrying them in their hearts and ensuring their needs are attended to.
“As Priests, you are to teach the people to be open handed to the poor... We cannot be good Priests without being good Christians, hence we must put in place structures that can take care of the poor and needy in our parishes,” said Archbishop Kwofie Friday, May 8.
He added, “As a Church, we must always be on the side of the poor and abandoned by continuously proclaiming the message that the rich have a responsibility towards the poor.”
In the service in which the Vicar General, Cathedral Administrator and the Deans of the six Deaneries of the Archdiocese participated, the 62-year-old Spiritan Archbishop reminded the Priests to ensure that their anointing reaches every corner especially where those who have been entrusted to their care live.
“You are anointed to heal those whose hearts are broken, bring solace and healing to those who are suffering, comfort to the mourning, liberation to (those who) have imprisoned themselves and bring God’s message of hope to the excluded and dejected,” he said.
The Archbishop urged the Clerics to constantly remind those into businesses to desist from exploiting the poor, a situation he said brought a lot of suffering to the less privileged.
The Chrism Mass, which is normally celebrated during the Holy Week was postponed in the wake of COVID-19 restrictions that were issued by the government of Ghana and the hierarchy of the Church to contain the spread of the virus, key among them closure of places of worship.
Attended by a handful of Clergy and lay faithful, the celebration of the Holy Mass was streamed live on YouTube and Facebook for the virtual participation of the Priests, Religious and the Lay Faithful of the Archdiocese and beyond.
Meanwhile, at an earlier celebration of Chrism Mass in Ghana’s Diocese of Sekondi-Takoradi where he is the Apostolic Administrator, Archbishop Kwofie invited the Priests “to reflect deeply on what it means to be a priest in these days of (COVID-19).”
In his homily at Our Lady Star of the Sea Cathedral, Takoradi, April 30, the Ghanaian Prelate prayed that in the midst of the pandemic, “God will empower us with his own spirit so that we can be true pastors of the people he has entrusted to us.”
“Because we are not in normal times, only a handful of priests are present,” he noted, adding, “It looks strange but the work of God must go on. God continues to use this situation to speak to us.”
Meanwhile, at a Chrism Mass in Ghana’s Ho Diocese in the Volta Region, Bishop Emmanuel Kofi Fianu, a member of the Society of Divine Word (SVD) Missionaries, called on Priests in the Diocese to maintain spiritual closeness with all faithful in the era of COVID-19.
He said restrictions imposed on all gatherings including church activities as a result of the global pandemic should not be a hindrance for Pastors to commune with their members spiritually through the private celebration of the holy Eucharist.
At the April 8 Mass, Bishop Fianu entreated the Clergy to continue to use virtual platforms to reach out to the flock and inspire hope in them in these difficult moments.
“Our inability to gather physically in our churches should not prevent us from enhancing the spiritual closeness that characterize our communion as a people of God,” the SVD Prelate said.
“I urged all of you to double your efforts in this period to provide all possible opportunities to our faithful so they may feel the closeness of the church with them. No faithful should feel abandoned by the church,” the 63-year-old Bishop added.
In Ghana’s Tamale Archdiocese, Archbishop Philip Naameh who is the President of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference (GCBC) thanked Priests for their tremendous work of evangelization, counselling and prayers they have been offering for the people, encouraging them to live holy lives.
The Archbishop was presiding over the postponed Chrism Mass Friday, April 8.
“If you minister to a people who are holy, you have no choice but to be holy and if you minister to a people whose preoccupation is the pleasures of this world, then you as a priest will struggle to be holy”, Archbishop Naameh said.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa