Most Rev. Joseph Francis Kweku Essien will go into the history books of the Wiawso Diocese and the Church in Ghana as the first emeritus bishop for Wiawso.
This follows the acceptance of his resignation by Pope Francis and the appointment of Cathedral Administrator for the Diocese, Very Rev. Fr. Samuel Nkuah-Boateng as the new Bishop for the Jurisdiction.
In 1999, a new Diocese which will become the Wiawso Diocese was carved out of the Sekondi Takoradi Diocese.
Then Fr. Joseph Francis Kweku Essien was elected Bishop for the newly created Wiawso Diocese in December the same year and was ordained and installed as Bishop on 25th March 2000.
Born on 28th November, 1945 at Nkroful, near Sekondi. His nationality is Ghanaian. He was born to Joseph Kobina Essien and Helena Krah (Nana Nwewa) both of blessed memory.
Most Rev. Joseph Francis Kweku Essien had his second cycle education at Fijai Secondary School from 1961 to 1966. From there he proceeded to St. Teresa’s Minor Seminary, Amisano, Elmina, in 1969 and completed in 1971. In the same 1971, he entered St. Peter’s Regional Seminary, Pedu, Cape Coast, where he studied Philosophy and Theology. He completed it in 1977.
Most Rev. Joseph Francis Kweku Essien was ordained as a priest by Most Rev. Joseph Amihere Essuah on 10th July 1977 for the Sekondi-Takoradi Diocese. After his ordination he worked as an Assisting Priest at St. Agatha Parish, Sefwi Asafo from 1977 to 1980. From St. Agatha Parish he was transferred to Star of the Sea Cathedral Parish, Takoradi where he served as an Assisting Priest from 1980 to 1981.
In 1981 then Fr. Joseph Francis Kweku Essien was taken to the Ghana Military Academy by Most Rev. Charles Kweku Sam, the then bishop of Sekondi-Takoradi diocese. He passed out from the Military Academy in 1982 and was commissioned in the same year as a Lieutenant. He served as a chaplain in the Ghana Armed Forces from 1982 to 1999 at the following places:
1982 – 1987 – 6 Garrison, Tamale
1987 – 1990 – Second Battalion of Infantry (2Bn) Apremdo, Takoradi
1990 – 1999 – General Headquarters (GHQ), Burma Camp, Accra
He went on four Peacekeeping Operations during the period:
Nov. 1984 – 1985 Operation Sunrise (Task Force X)
Ghanbatt 23, South Lebanon
1992 – ECOMOG Ghanbatt 5, Liberia
Jan 1994 – July 1994 Operation Sunrise, Ghanbatt 40
February 1999 – Sept 1999- Operation Sunrise, Ghanbatt 50 (The Golden Ghanbatt)
Most Rev. Joseph Francis Kweku Essien was elected Bishop for the newly created Wiawso Diocese in December 1999. He was ordained and installed as Bishop on 25th March 2000 for the Catholic Diocese of Wiawso. The Bishop chose as his guiding Motto: Your will, not mine, be done.
His hobbies are gardening, playing scrabble and walking.
Since becoming a bishop, he has held positions including head of the Cape Coast Province’s Department for Judicial Matters and member of the Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference’s Department of Pastoral Ministry and Evangelization.
He has been vocal on national issues particularly the damaging effect of “Galamsey” on the environment.
Most Rev. Joseph Francis Kwaku Essien, the Bishop of Wiawso Diocese, turns 78 this year and has served as bishop for 23 years. He is one of the bishops expected to retire from active pastoral ministry this year, having attained and crossed the canonical retirement age of 75. Having served almost three more years after hitting the canonical retirement age of 75, he may likely be preparing for his retirement, should Pope Francis accept his resignation.
Bishop Essien is a gift to the catholic church and particularly the church in Ghana and remains a favourite bishop for many, even beyond his home diocese of Wiawso, having impacted the lives of many through his life as a priest, Chaplain in the Ghana Armed Forces, and as a Bishop. Through his homilies and other national and pastoral activities, he left many with fond memories they will cherish for a lifetime.
As a retired Army Officer (Lt. Col.), Bishop Essien within the ranks of his former Army colleagues is known as someone who is straight and sharp and does not mince words when speaking the truth.