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Catholic Charity Reaches Out to Priests at Flourishing Parish in Ghana to Wade off Sects

A Priest poses on a motorcycle at St. Michael Parish of Ghana’s Catholic Diocese of Jasikan. Credit: Aid to the Church in Need

In slightly over a decade, Catholic Priests of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin (Franciscan Friars) who first established a mission in rural Ghana in 2008 have managed to establish a flourishing Parish in the region that boasts of 17 outstations overseen by two Catechists each.

The immense growth notwithstanding, the Catholic Church in the West African nation faces the threat of invasion by other sects in the country where a significant population still adheres to traditional religious practices, Catholic Pontifical organization Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) International has reported.

The threat is especially huge in remote places of the country where missionaries are unable to access, ACN leadership has said, underscoring the need to support the three Capuchin Priests ministering at St. Michael Parish of Ghana’s Catholic Diocese of Jasikan in the Ecclesiastical Province of Accra.

In the Tuesday, May 11 report, the Catholic Charity organization further details that St. Michael Catholic Parish is located in Kpassa, a rural town of around 45,000 people situated in the East of the country, roughly 250 miles (400 km) from Ghana’s capital city, Accra.

“In the year 2008 the Capuchin Fathers established a mission station here, which in 2010 was raised to the status of a Parish. Today it includes 34 outlying villages, 17 of which outstations have already been established, in other words, small Catholic communities, each accompanied by two catechists,” ACN reports.

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The leadership of the Pontifical charity organization adds, “The Priests visit these villages regularly to celebrate Holy Mass and administer the Sacraments. Meanwhile, four other villages are in the process of developing into similar outstations.”

According to ACN, some of the outstations lie up to 28 miles (45 km) from the centre of the Parish.

There are other villages, however, that are so remote that it has not yet been possible to proclaim the Gospel there, the charity organization explains, adding that the state of the roads in the area is very poor.

“In the rainy season many of these tracks degenerate into almost unnavigable rivers of mud. What is needed here is a powerful and robust all-terrain vehicle,” ACN says, adding that the only means of transport that the Capuchin Priests have are a motorbike and an old car.

The organization explains, in reference to the two means of transport, “Better than nothing, of course, but it means that they simply cannot minister to the outstations as intensively as they need to.”

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This, ACN notes, is posing a challenge to the Priests who are unable to fulfill the spiritual and social needs of the people under their pastoral care.

It also means that there is a danger of invasion by sects, the Catholic Charity reports, and explains, “wherever the Church cannot be physically present, there is the danger of an invasion by the sects.”

ACN reports that roughly 70 percent of Ghana’s population are Christians, most of whom belong to a variety of different Protestant denominations.

Approximately 15 percent of the population of Christians are Catholics, the organization reports, noting that the rest of the population, particularly among the followers of the traditional African religions, are many who are interested in Christianity.

“For them, the Good News of Christ means liberation from their fear of sorcery and evil spirits,” the Catholic Pontifical organization says.

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To help the Capuchin Priests in their work to evangelize remote parts of Ghana, ACN has promised Fr. Robinson Melkis of St. Michael Parish Priest some contribution toward the purchase of a new vehicle that can navigate the region.

The organization quotes Fr. Melkis request for the vehicle to help in pastoral visits in the Ghanaian villages, saying, “These pastoral visits are essential in order to keep the flame of the Christian faith alive in the hearts of the faithful.”