Catechesis “should necessarily effect visible change, transformation”: Bishop in Ghana

Bishop John Yaw Afoakwah, Chairman of Ghana’s Catechetical Commission and Local Ordinary of Obuasi Diocese addressing participants at the National Catechetical Commission meeting at the St. Kizito Catechetical centre at Apowa, Takoradi on October 27, 2020.
Credit: Credit: Secondi-Takoradi DEPSOCOM

The need for Catholics in Ghana to take “seriously” their faith formation was a key highlight of the start of the National Catechetical Commission Meeting at which the Bishop who gave his opening remarks advocated for a catechesis that transforms lives.

“If there is one thing that needs to be emphasized and taken seriously in our Catholic Church in Ghana today is faith formation or catechesis in general. Christian formation through the word of God should necessarily effect visible change and transformation of one's life,” Bishop John Yaw Afoakwah of Ghana’s Obuasi Diocese said Tuesday, October 27.

Bishop Afoakwah added referencing faith formation in the West African nation, “This is what is expected in our country Ghana as Christians are formed through the word of God.”

He cited the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus uses the symbols of salt and light to explain the role of Christians saying, “As salt of the earth, a Christian is to give taste or flavour to society, his or her environment, affecting the world around him or her positively.”

“Salt is also a preservative, a seasoning against corruption. This is how a Christian is to function; to preserve and save society from corruption and moral decay,” the Bishop further said.

He continued, “Light is to be seen. It dispels darkness and such, Christians are to expose wrongdoings, evil and sin in their environments while serving as living examples for others to emulate.”

However, the Prelate observed, the fruits of Christian formation have not been realized in the West African country where Christianity is the largest religion. 

“With the level of evil and moral decay in our Ghanaian society, one wonders how much the word of God has impacted and affected our national life,” he said. 

The 65-year-old Prelate went on to highlight some of the indicators of the failure to apply Christian values in the country.

“Corruption is undoubtedly the number one social anchor that has engulfed every facet of our national life. There is a lack of accountability and economic crimes against the nation go unpunished,” he said.

 

He further said, “Our politics is devoid of patriotism and concern for the common good but partisan and individualistic.”

“Behaviours that were considered taboos and frowned upon like abortion, teenage pregnancies, lesbianism and homosexuality, are now the order of the day and sometimes they have legal backing in the name of human rights and freedom,” the Bishop lamented.

Some of the areas that need “transformation and positive change,” the Bishop said, include the moral, social, political, and cultural spheres of society.

In his considered view, transformation in the country can only be achieved if Christians “live fully their Christian lives and bring to bear, at various levels, the transformation they have received from their Christian formation.”

Teachers of faith, especially catechists can be agents of transformation in various ways, Bishop Afoakwah outlined as a way forward.

 

For one, catechists can use Small Christian Communities (SCCs), which “offer not only the opportunity of the scriptures but also afford the members of the community the opportunity to share their experiences in accordance with their daily encounters in life,” the Ghanaian Bishop said. 

Two, teachers of faith need to explain the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults as the “most suitable and foundational process to achieve both personal and community transformation.”

Bishop Afoakwah also encouraged the use of the Biblical Apostolate saying, “By gathering around the word, reading it, reflecting and praying with the sacred scriptures, the word of God takes root in the life of the Christian.”

“Pondering over the word of God through the Biblical apostolate helps the transformation of life and subsequently affects the community,” he said. 

The Local Ordinary of Ghana’s Obuasi Diocese recognized the significant role Catholic schools can play in the teaching of Catholic faith, describing them as “unique avenues for Christian formation.”

“Catholic schools are a place to build character,” the Bishop said at the beginning of the National Catechetical Commission Meeting October 27.

He added in reference to Catholic schools, “We need to do all we can to have a strong presence and do all we can to influence over our schools so that products from our schools can influence decisions in our country.”

 


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