1. Introductory greeting: Christ has risen! He has risen indeed. Halleluiah! Halleluiah!! Halleluiah!!! . I greet you in these words because we are still within the holy season of Easter, the forty days that the Risen Lord Jesus Christ spent with his disciples after his Resurrection from the tomb.
Dearly beloved in Christ Jesus, today, Monday, May 18, 2020, is a very special day for us in the Catholic Archdiocese of Cape Coast, because exactly 140 years ago, Rev. Fr. Auguste MOREAU and Rev. Fr. Eugene MURAT of the Society of African Missions (SMA), landed at Nkwaduado near the Elmina Castle, sent by the Superior General of the SMA (or Peres Lyonnais, as they were first known) Rev. Fr. Augustin PLANQUE at the behest of Sir James MARSHALL to Propaganda Fide, to re-open the Catholic Mission in the then Gold Coast.
It is this mission they re-started that has given rise today to the Catholic Church in Ghana, together with the later mission of the White Fathers in Navrongo in 1905. This Church in Ghana currently stands at four Archdioceses, fifteen Dioceses, and one Apostolic Vicariate. The current population of Catholics in Ghana is about 4 million, with over 1,500 Priests, about 1,000 Religious Clergy and Consecrated Persons, 121 Hospitals and Health Centres, and more than 3,000 Schools and other institutions.
2. Pope St. John Paul II visits Ghana: In 1980, May 08-10, His Holiness (now St.) John Paul II was the very special guest for the Centenary Celebrations of the Catholic Church. And it might interest you to know that today, May 18, 2020, is the centenary of the birth of this saintly Pope (St. John Paul II), who kissed this our land on the day of his arrival to Ghana for the centenary celebrations. Our Holy Father Pope Francis is presiding today a commemorative Holy Mass for the centenary of the birth of his saintly predecessor, St. John Paul II in St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome.
We had, in fact, also planned a very grand celebration of this 140th Anniversary today, but alas for the pandemic of COVID-19 which has necessitated a rather very restricted mode of commemorating this anniversary.
3. Launch of the year-long celebration of the 140th Anniversary: And so, I take this opportunity, first and foremost, to officially launch a Year-long 140th Anniversary commemoration from today to May 18, 2021.
This year-long celebration will include the Preparation from now of the Second Synod of the Archdiocese of Cape Coast, which will be celebrated in June 2021.
4. Next, I hereby launch the Second Synod of the Archdiocese of Cape Coast in the name of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, through the maternal solicitude of the Blessed Virgin Mary, whom we venerate in this month of May and through the prayerful intercession of St. Joseph her Spouse Most Chaste, who is also patron of the Catholic Church here in Elmina and the Archdiocese of Cape Coast (by extension).
Furthermore, in consultation with the Curia and the Deans, we propose for the theme of our Second Synod: Baptized and Sent: Our Call to holiness and mission in the Archdiocese of Cape Coast in preparation for the 150th Anniversary of the Catholic Mission in Ghana: ‘Let your light so shine in the sight of men, that seeing your good works, they may give glory to your heavenly Father!’ (Mt. 5:16).
This theme is inspired by the Message of His Holiness Francis for the 2019 World Mission Day titled: “Baptized and Sent: The Church of Christ on mission in the world: Every baptized man and woman is a mission.” I, therefore, encourage you, one and all, to read and reflect very well on this Message of the Holy Father and see how it should inform our Second Synod in our call to holiness and mission in the Catholic Archdiocese of Cape Coast for the coming ten years.
Very soon, we shall make the Message available to you all for your further reflection, and you will be given more relevant information in preparation for the Synod, such as the time table for the Lineamenta (or Guidelines) and the Instrumentum Laboris (or the Working Document); the choice of delegates for the Synod etc.
5. Launch of pro Synod Competitions: Now, as part of today’s ceremony, I hereby also launch officially four competitions in connection with the Second Synod, namely for a:
• Logo for the Synod;
• Slogan for the Synod;
• Synod Prayer, and
• Synod Anthem or Song.
5.1: Please, for your information, the competition for the Synod Logo is limited to only Catholic youth below the age of 24 today.
5.2: The Synod Slogan is also limited to Catholic youth below 24.
5.3: However, the competition for the Synod Prayer, and Synod Anthem or Song is open to Catholics of any age.
The modalities for these competitions will be announced in all our parishes and outstations very soon.
6. Archdiocese of Cape Coast COVID-19 Emergency Fund: Finally, we cannot not say something about the COVID-19 pandemic and the efforts of the Catholic Archdiocese of Cape Coast. I will now call Rev. Fr. Stephen AMOAH-GYASI, Director of Caritas and of the Development Office of the Archdiocese to give us some information relevant to this and I will complete his statement.
Launch of the COVID-19 Fund:
7. Siege of Jericho within the Novena to the Holy Spirit: As our prayerful contribution to the battle against this COVID-19 pandemic, I, hereby, direct that during the Novena to the Holy Spirit for Pentecost Sunday, we, Priests and Consecrated Persons in this Archdiocese, undertake at least ONE HOUR ADORATION of the BLESSED SACRAMENT per day from Friday, May 22 to Friday, May 29, (a Siege of Jericho, ref. Joshua Ch. 6) pleading with the Lord Our God to deliver us and the whole world from this coronavirus scourge.
I encourage you, our lay faithful especially in your homes and with your families as the domestic church to continue more intensely with:
• the daily prayer of the Holy Rosary;
• our chosen prayer “We fly to thy patronage…”
• as well as the Divine Mercy 3.o’clock Prayer: “Eternal Father, I offer you the body and blood…”
This is to be our prayer-crusade in support of the efforts of our government, our scientists and our frontline health workers, security personnel etc., to combat definitively this plague. Please let us observe religiously the health protocols and without fail.
8. Conclusion: To conclude this day of Commemoration of the 140th Anniversary of the arrival of the two SMA Missionaries, Rev. Frs. Auguste MOREAU and Eugene MURAT to our shores, I have the honour to announce officially too that preparations are far gone towards the re-opening of the Women’s Monastery, which my illustrious predecessor, Most Rev. John Kodwo AMISSAH of blessed memory started on March 06, 1960, but had to fold up sometime in 2009.
I entrust this intention to your prayerful solicitude as one of the 140th Anniversary projects of this Archdiocese.
May the will of God, through the maternal intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ the Son of God and that of St. Joseph, Patron of all Women in Monastic and Consecrated Life, be done for us!
At this juncture, I would like to thank you one and all for your presence. I wish you a happy year-long 140th Anniversary celebration as we prepare for the Second Synod of the Catholic Archdiocese of Cape Coast. Let us pray our special prayer for divine protection against the coronavirus pandemic.
“We fly to thy patronage…”
And I bless you in the name of God the Father… Amen!
Most Rev. Charles G. PALMER-BUCKLE,
Metropolitan Archbishop of Cape Coast,
At St. Joseph Minor Basilica, Elmina,
On Monday, May 18, 2020.