Catholic Free Press

Catholic Free Press Digital Edition

  • Jul
  • 12

Ghanaian men’s group bringing countrymen back ‘home’

Posted By July 12, 2012 | 12:59 pm | Lead Story #1
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By Tanya Connor

WORCESTER – A men’s group aimed at bringing Ghanaians back to the Catholic Church had its new officers installed Sunday at St. Joan of Arc Parish.
Father Eric K. Asante, the diocese’s first Ghanaian priest, ordained last month and now associate pastor of St. George Parish, prayed over the eight men at Sunday’s Ghanaian Mass at St. Joan of Arc.
Each received a folder of the group’s constitutions and other paperwork, and a red pen symbolic of the work they will do, explained Kwabena Odame, the newly installed organizing secretary of the St. Paul’s Men’s Fellowship. Emmanuel Ntim, the group’s president, said it is named after St. Paul because “Paul was the one that did most of the job – preaching the Gospel.”
Ghanaian Catholics sometimes are drawn to one of the more than 10 Ghanaian Pentecostal churches in Worcester because they want to worship in their language, with their cultural traditions, and do not know there is a Catholic Ghanaian community here, according to Francis Boamah, financial secretary.
Mr. Ntim said that was already happening when Ghanaian Catholics were at St. Peter Parish mixed in with the rest of the diocesan African community. The Ghanaians moved to St. Joan of Arc a few years ago. He said some left the Catholic Church because of clergy sexual abuse scandals, so practicing Catholics talked to them, and some came back.
The Ghanaians formed the fellowship to bring Catholics back and help families attend Mass together, to boost their community and help Christians serve God, Mr. Ntim said.
The new officers said they inform others of their community’s existence by identifying themselves as Ghanaian Catholics from St. Joan of Arc when attending celebrations at Pentecostal churches with friends, mourning with the bereaved at funerals or requesting songs for loved ones on radio stations. They also advertise on these radio stations – Word 102.9 FM  and AfricanBeats 106.5 FM – and participate in sports competitions among churches, they said.
Mr. Odame said when Catholics go to other churches they say they are Catholic, so the Pentecostals know “he’s not a member here; he just wants to fellowship.” So when the Catholics leave the Pentecostal churches for St. Joan of Arc, there is no problem, he said.
The men’s group also is working on increasing involvement of those who already belong to the parish, organizing retreats for members and inviting the whole Ghanaian community, and helping the parish with work like cleaning and snow removal, the men said.
The group tries to attract men to come to church and join the fellowship and, through it, they become active in whatever the Ghanaian Catholic community is doing, said Nicholas Obeng, president of the whole Ghanaian Catholic community.
“We have an increase in membership,” and in people receiving sacraments, he said.
“I just encourage them,” he said of the new officers. “The task ahead of them is not easy, but I believe with God’s grace they will deliver, and win more souls for God and more men and women for the community.”
The group, a Catholic fraternal society like ones in Ghana, is similar to the Knights of Columbus, said Frank K. Anderson, vice president, who belongs to the council at St. Joan of Arc. He said in Ghana he was a member of the Knights of Marshall, an affiliate of the Knights of Columbus.
Mr. Boamah said he and Mr. Odame belong to St. Joan of Arc’s St. Vincent de Paul Society; they pick up food donated by other parishes and distribute it at St. Joan of Arc.
“Our aim is to give back to the Worcester community,” he said. “And Mr. Anderson is also helping to educate the men’s fellowship about the need to join the Knights of Columbus.” Mr. Anderson said involvement like this helps the Ghanaians get more connected to the broader parish community.
“It’s very beneficial,” he said. “It’s very nice seeing yourself helping people who are in need.” And it helps members learn what’s going on in the community, he said.
“One of our parishioners made this suggestion about five years ago, but it couldn’t materialize until the latter part of 2009,” Mr. Boamah said of starting the men’s fellowship. “The official appointment and election of officers to lead the group happened in 2010.”
Mr. Odame said Sunday’s was the second installation, as they have two-year terms. He said the Ghanaian Catholic Women’s Association, which also has the main objective of bringing Catholics back to the Church, installed its officers last year.
The other men installed Sunday were Secretary Louis Amoako, Vice Secretary Michael Kwarteng, Treasurer Clifford Danso and Vice Organizing Secretary Kwesi Boadzi.
Ghanaian activities at St. Joan of Arc include Mass in Twi and English at 2 p.m. two Sundays a month and prayer meetings with praying of the rosary, Bible study and use of the charismatic gifts from 7 to 9 p.m. each Wednesday, the men said.