The Province of West Africa’s birth is significant for the Congregation of Holy Cross as it marks a breakthrough in its growth and mission in West Africa. The inaugural ceremony was a testament to the hard work and dedication of the brothers; it was a celebration of our history, our present reality, and our hope for the future. The various events held during the preparation of the inaugural ceremony demonstrated our devotion to our faith, our community, and our mission.

The inauguration ceremony took place on February 11, 2023, in Cape Coast, Ghana at the Province Head Quarters in Brafoyaw. The theme of the ceremony was “Looking into our History with gratitude, embracing the present reality with enthusiasm, and journeying together with hope.” The event was well-attended by the Metropolitan Archbishop of Cape Coast, Most Rev. Charles Gabriel Palmer-Buckle, and the Archbishop Emeritus of Metropolitan Archdiocese of Cape Coast, Most Rev. Matthias Nketsiah and many priests and religious.

The several weeks of celebrations began with a nine-day novena prayer to Saint Brother Andre, the patron saint of the Province of West Africa by all the members of the Province, followed by a presentation on the history of Holy Cross in West Africa. The presentation, which focused on the legacy handed down to us from the Ghanaian perspective, was delivered by Bro. Joseph Tsiquaye CSC and Bro. Michael Amakyi, CSC.

The ceremony also included a tree-planting exercise at the Province Center and in all Holy Cross communities to mark the birth of the Province, as well as a second set of presentations which focused on the Province’s new status and the vocation of the Brother in a new province. Fr. John Ghansah SJ delivered the first presentation, and Bro. Anthony Baaladong, M. Afr. facilitated the second presentation.

The last presentations were given on February 9, 2023, in three groups. The first group, which was led by Bro. Raymond Papenfus CSC and Bro James Kozak CSC, discussed the early history of the growth of Holy Cross in West Africa, including early missionaries’ personal stories. The second group gave comforting and motivational messages, with Bro. Robert Lavelle, a missionary, and Brothers Joseph Fox and Roy Smith speaking. The third group was given by Bro. Kenneth Haders, CSC Midwest Provincial, who guided the birth of the Province of West Africa and the General Superior Bro. Paul Bednarczyk, CSC who was in Ghana to administer the inauguration of the Province. At that same gathering, goodwill messages were read on behalf of Brother Chester Freel, CCS – immediate past provincial of the Midwest Province; Brother Richard Johnson, CSC – Missionary to Ghana; and Father William Lies, CSC – the Provincial of the Priests and Brothers Province of United States.

The Province gathered to honor our ancestors who had passed on in faith by holding a memorial mass and laying a memorial stone. The ceremony was divided into three parts: the mass, the remembrance of the deceased, and the laying of the memorial stone at the graveyard. Reverend Father Cyprian Binaka CSC, the Provincial Superior of East Africa, officiated the mass, while Brother John Badu Affum, CSC the Provincial Superior of the Province of West Africa gave the reflection. During the ceremony, we prayed solemnly to remember our deceased Brothers and Sisters who have worked or supported the course of missionary work in Ghana and Liberia. We projected their names and pictures, along with their significant contributions in their lifetime. The third part of the ceremony was held at the graveside, where we laid a memorial stone in honor of the Brothers whose remains are interred outside the province. Additionally, we laid wreathes on the tombstones of Bro. Vincent Gross, CSC; Bro. Thomas Dillman, CSC; Bro. Daniel Dardoe, CSC; and Bro. Joseph K.B. Annan, CSC, to show our respect for their contributions. By holding this ceremony, we immortalized our ancestors, ensuring that their deep footprints would always be remembered and followed. 

The inauguration mass was officiated by Most Rev. Charles Gabriel Palmer-Buckle. Brother Paul Bednarczyk, the Superior General of the Congregation of Holy Cross was among the dignitaries on the altar. During the ceremony, Brother Paul Bednarczyk administered the oath of office to the new Provincial, Bro. John Badu Affum, and also did same to his councilors. The council members, including Bros. Kenneth Goode CSC, Kenneth Kunditani, CSC, Anthony Dadzie, Stephen Aidoo CSC, and William Tawiah, CSC, were then installed to take charge of the new Province until the next general election.

After the post-communion, Bro. John Badu Affum delivered his message to the gathering. The ceremony concluded with goodwill messages from personalities such as the Old Saints of St. John’s School Sekondi, Bro. Raymond Papenfuss CSC, the only surviving pioneer Brother, Fr. Cyprian Binaka, CSC, Provincial of the province of East Africa, Bro. Kenneth Haders CSC- Provincial Superior of Midwest Province, Bro. Paul Bednarczyk Superior CSC, General of the Congregation of Holy Cross, and Very Rev. Fr. Francis Kofi Lamaire, the vicar general of Sekondi-Takoradi diocese who delivered a speech on behalf of Bishop John Baptist Attakruh, and Very Rev. Fr. Bonaventure Annan, Vicar General of Archdiocese of Cape Coast.

The new Provincial Superior, Bro. John Badu Affum, CSC expressed his gratitude to all those who had supported the Province of West Africa in various ways. He also thanked the Superior General, Brother Paul Bednarczyk, for his guidance and leadership, as well as the archbishops and other dignitaries for gracing the occasion with their presence.

In his message, Brother Paul Bednarczyk emphasized the importance of the Holy Cross charism in the Province of West Africa and encouraged the new Provincial Superior and his council to continue to live out the charism in their daily lives and ministry.

The inauguration ceremony was a historic event for the Congregation of Holy Cross in West Africa, as it marked the transition from being a district to being a province. The theme of the ceremony, “Looking into our History with gratitude, embracing the present reality with enthusiasm and journeying together with hope,” reflected the Congregation’s commitment to its mission and values, as well as its vision for the future.

The preparation for the ceremony, which included a nine-day novena prayer to the patron saint Brother Andre, presentations on the history of Holy Cross in West Africa, a vigil service of adoration, a celebration of new year mass, a tree-planting ceremony, blessing of the statues of Blessed Fr. Moreau and Rev. Fr. Jacque Dujarie and discussions on the early history of the growth of Holy Cross in West Africa, provided a fitting backdrop for the historic occasion.

The final activities just before the vote of thanks were the blessing of the foundational stone of an infirmary at St. Bro. Andre Senior High School as a memorial project and the recognition of various individuals and institutions that have contributed significantly to the cause. These exceptional individuals and institutions have been associated with the Congregation at different times, and their contributions have been invaluable.

Among those recognized were esteemed individuals such as Archbishop Charles Gabriel Palma-Buckle, Archbishop Emeritus Mathias Nketsiah, Paul Bednarczyk, CSC – Superior General, Chester Freel, CSC – Former Provincial, Fr. Cyprien Benaka CSC – Provincial Superior, Province of East Africa, Raymond Papenfuss, CSC – Pioneer Brother, Mission Promoter, James Kozak, CSC – Pioneer Missionary, Robert Lavelle, CSC – Missionary, Provincial Vicar – Midwest Province, Edward Dailey, Francis Boylan, Joseph Fox, CSC, Roy Smith, CSC, Richard Johnson, CSC – Teacher, Missionary, William Mews, CSC, and Fr. Robert Gilmour, CSC – Missionary, Chaplain.

In addition to these exceptional individuals, Past District Superiors and Six Member Committee members were also recognized for their contributions to the organization. Institutions that have been recognized for their support and assistance include Sisters of the Holy Cross, The Society of Jesus, Our Lady of Apostles, Hospitallers Sisters, Holy Cross Associates, St. John’s School, St. Augustine College, Holy Cross Technical Institute, St. Andre High School, Pope Francis School, Nkechina Leprosarium, Home of Hope Orphanage, Old Saints, Knight of St. Johns, and Mashallants. 

Special recognition was also given to notable individuals such as Mrs. Mensah, Mr. and Mrs. Dowuona, Mr. John Assan, Dr. Benedict Sackey, Fr. George Bonnah, Dr. and Dr. Mrs. Derkyi Kwarteng, Mr. Jacob Eshun, Mr. Kwaku Baah, and Madam Theresa Quarm. These individuals have been instrumental in the congregation’s success and are deserving of our utmost gratitude.

The ceremony was attended by religious congregations in and around Cape Coast, as well as dignitaries from the church. 

      Overall, the inauguration ceremony was a celebration of the rich history and traditions of the Congregation of Holy Cross in West Africa, as well as a testament to its commitment to its mission and values. The Province of West Africa will undoubtedly continue to make significant contributions to the church and society in the region and beyond.

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