The general design of the coat of arms of bishops consists of a cross, a crest, and a hat with a connecting rope that has six tassels on either side of the crest. Then, the specifics of a particular bishop’s coat of arms are his motto as well as the divisions of his crest and the symbols therein.
THE DOVE AND THE BIBLE
The top left comer has a dove, a symbol of the Holy Spirit; the Spirit of Truth, Love, and of Peace, and is placed above the Holy Bible, the Word of God. It is God who has called, chosen, and sent me to proclaim his word to his people in the Apostolic Vicariate of Donkorkrom. My task is to proclaim the Word of God, the authentic message of salvation that God sent his Son into the world to save the world and not to condemn the world. I am to proclaim this message in a language of love, as St. Joseph Freinademetz, SVD, says that “The only language understood by all people everywhere is the language of love.” God’s message is also the message of peace, and so must bring diverse people together, reconcile them and unite them together as one family of God. The message I proclaim is, therefore, inspired by the Spirit of Truth, Love and of Peace. Among the Aka ns, the dove is o peaceful bird and a proverbial bird associated with the saying: Aburoburo nkosua adea ebeye yie nsei do. The background of the proverb is that every bird builds a nest for laying and hatching her eggs. The dove builds her nest with few sticks, but it has the ability to hatch her young ones on this seemingly poor structure, no matter the climatic conditions and threats from the environment. This means that what God has ordained, no matter the challenges and circumstances,it is bound to succeed.
It is a call and reminder for me to always put my hope and trust in God, persevere to the end, and never to throw in the towel in the face of frustration, difficulty or even failure. Those who put their hope in the Lord renew their strength (Is.40:28-31). In addition, both symbols depict my religious missionary origins as a member of the Arnoldus Family. The three Religious Congregations founded by St. Arnold Janssen, SVD, bear the names of the Divine Word (Society of the Divine Word) and the Hoty Spirit (Missionary Sisters of the Holy Spirit and Holy Spirit Sisters of Perpetual Adoration). This religious tradition is my heritage and charism, which to a large extent I share in common with the Apostolic Vicariate which first received the Catholic faith from pioneer SVD missionaries; and had continued Lobe evangelized by name and the Missionary SistersServants of the Holy Spirit (SSpS) for many decades. Until quite recently, the entire territory of the Apostolic Vicariate had been under the missionary service of theSVDandthe SSpS.
THE THREE CIRCLES WITH A CROSS
This symbol depicts the Arnoldus Spirituality which is Trinitarian Spirituality. This is the spirituality I envisage for the Apostolic Vicariate in the sense of being rooted in the Trinitarian communion as the origin and foundation of our religious and or missionary life. We strive to be one with Jesus in his total self-giving love. We follow him on the way of the Cross to his death and resurrection. And to be filled with and empowered by the Holy Spirit for the prophetic mission of the Apostolic Vicariate and the universal Church. In all this, Christ, the God-made man is our model and inspiration; we live, move, speak, and act in and through Jesus Christ. This is signified by the Cross running through all three circles.
The Cross is very symbolic because in the Cross is our mission, and in every mission, we find or encounter the Cross. For, as St. Francis Xavier, the patron of the Vicariate Church says: “Millions might be easily converted if there were more preachers who would sincerely mind the interests of Jesus Christ and not their own.”
The Cross being the symbol of Jesus’ obedience and faithful love to the Father and his humble and selfless service to humanity which brought us salvation. Again, as members of the Lord’s flock, our common faith as Catholics (though coming from multi-ethnic, cultural, language, and tribal groups, and with diverse specific vocations as Priests, Religious and Lay Faithful, and again coming from different religious congregations and of the Diocesan clergy)binds us together in the spirit of unity, teamwork and collaboration in the evangelizing mission of Christ to which we have been called. Each of us is called to respect, appreciate, and promote the other’s vocation, to live in fidelity to his or her particular vocation, to love and cherish his or her individual vocation, to render loving and selfless service to our neighbours, and to protect the vulnerable. This is to give witness to the unity in diversity in the Church and to reflect the true nature of the Roman Catholic Church as universal (all-inclusive).
TRADITIONAL SYMBOL OF THE ELEPHANT TUSKS AND STOOL
The Kwahu Afram Plains was a vast stretch of uninhabited jungle with various kinds of animals; and so very dangerous. Hunters with great spiritual powers” to overcome the threat of these wild animals were the first to explore the area. The two elephant tusks represent the powers of these early hunters. In the course of time settlements sprang up and the early missionaries came in with evangelization. The mighty power and authority of the Christian God (Triune God), proved to be much greater than the powers of the early hunters. This is symbolized by the Stool, the throne of God. The two elephant tusks are placed under the footstool of God. My mission is to bring people to know, love, and serve the all-powerful God who first loved and served us in His Son, Jesus Christ.
WATER AT THE BOTTOM
The entire Apostolic Vicariate of Donkorkrom lies within the catchment area of three major rivers-the Afra m, Volta and Obosom; with some Island communities and other communities beyond the rivers. Thus water is a major geographical feature of the Vicariate. There are a good number of resettlement communities that came into existence as a result of the creation of the Akosombo Dam which gave rise to the Volta Lake. I was born and raised in Adeemmra- Kwahu, and belong to the people of Nkami (one of the resettlement communities of Amankwakrom). The life of the people of Adjena (a resettlement community) where my father comes from, and the people of Nkonya Ntumda, where my mother comes from, is greatly influenced by the Volta Lake. Water is therefore very significant to me in the sense of both my origins and the territory of which 1 has become the Shepherd. However, I look at the theological significance of water as a source of life and health -with Jesus as the Spring of Living Water who refreshes all who thirst ( Ezek 47:1-12; in 4:1-30, 7:37-39) – and its cleansing power (Ezek. 36:24-28). Thus, through my ministry in the Vicariate, more people will be drawn to Christ and enjoy the fullness of life and health and live holy life befitting beloved sons and daughters of God (Lev. 11:45).
FIDELITY, LOVE AND SERVICE
Fidelity, Love, and Service is my motto. This is to inspire me to uphold, teach and live the true Catholic faith at all times, to be faithful to my specific vocation as a religious missionary priest, and to encourage all others to do the same. Again to offer myself in loving service to the people of God, especially those in frontier situations of culture, religion, and social class in the context of the Gospel Reading for my episcopal ordination (1k. 4:14-21). I offer myself total self-giving in love in response to Jesus’ invitation (Lk.14:25-33).
Inspired by the theme and reflections of our recent SVD 18″ General Chapter in 2018, “I am impelled by the love of Christ (2 Cor. 5:14) to be rooted in the Word, and Committed to His Mission.” This should result in my own personal renewal and transformation, and the same for all in the Apostolic Vicariate. I ask for the grace for the victory of fidelity in doing what pleases God.