The Society of African Missions (SMA) culminated its yearlong celebrations of the 140th anniversary of the introduction of Catholicism into Ashanti on June 25th, 2023. The anniversary commemorated the visit of Fr. Auguste Moreau to Mahyia Palace in 1882, where he sought permission to establish the Catholic Church in Ashanti.
The celebrations included a two-day academic conference held in collaboration with KNUST in Kumasi on January 18th and 19th, 2023. Additionally, a pilgrimage retracing the route Fr. Moreau took from Elmina to Kumasi, passing through Assin Fosu, was organized.
To mark the end of the anniversary events, a Thanksgiving Mass was held on June 25th, 2023, at St. Paul Parish in Adukrom, Kumasi. Most Rev Joseph Osei-Bonsu, the Catholic bishop of Konongo-Mampong, presided over the Mass, during which Fr. Samuel Hagan, SMA, was ordained a priest.
Bishop Osei-Bonsu, in his homily, commended the SMA for their pioneering work and urged Fr. Hagan to be a good pastor.
Reflecting on the mission’s beginnings in Kumasi, Very Rev Fr. Dennis Senyo Etti, SMA, the Vice-provincial of the SMA in Ghana, noted that it has since given rise to six dioceses.
He paid glowing tributes to the founding missionaries whose hard work and missionary zeal birthed the SMA. “We cannot mark this great moment in the life of the church in Ghana without the mention of many SMA missionaries who came from Europe to work here. We revere the sacrifices they made for the advancement of the Gospel of Christ. Our records show that many young men who sacrificed the comfortable life in Europe in order to work here in Ghana, and I mean the 17th and the 19th centuries Ghana. They risked everything, including death,” he said.
Fr. Etti also thanked the people of the Asante State (Ashanti Region) for their role in the firm establishment of the presence of the SMA in Ghana. He stated that “we as SMAs owe a lot to the people of Ashanti who have accepted and loved the Catholic faith since its introduction in 1883. They accepted us from the beginning till today. We sincerely thank the successive kings of this kingdom for their generosity towards the SMA and the church.”
Commenting on the future of the SMA, the Vice Provincial mentioned that “my dear brothers and sisters, one would ask: after 140 years what else? For us mission continues. We still have a lot to do. At this juncture, I will plead your indulgence to launch a project we have initiated to mark 140 years of our presence in Ashanti. We are going to put up a health facility (a clinic) at the outskirts of Kumasi in town called Akokoamong.”
As part of the commemoration, the SMA launched a project to build a clinic in Akokoamong, near Kumasi, with the Vice-Provincial superior leading the initiative.
While thanking the chiefs and people of Akokoamong for offering the land for the project, Fr. Etti called for support, both material and prayer support, towards the successful construction of the clinic.
The SMA province in Ghana currently boasts 33 priests serving in various parts of the world. The leadership team consists of Very Rev Fr. Paul Ennin as provincial superior, Very Rev Fr. Dennis Senyo Etti as Vice Provincial, and Very Rev Fr. Junior Biro as Councilor.