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Address of Archbishop Palmer-Buckle at 125th Anniversary Launch

ADDRESS FOR THE LAUNCH OF THE CELEBRATIONS OF THE 125TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE CATHOLIC MISSION IN ACCRA ON THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2017, AT THE HOLY SPIRIT CATHEDRAL, ADABRAKA, ACCRA.

O Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!

For his great love is without end.

Let the House of Israel say it:

‘His love is without end!’

Let the House of Aaron say it:

‘His love is without end!’”  (Ps: 118:1-3).

And now, let the Archdiocese of Accra say it:  His love is indeed without end!

  1. Greetings and Welcome: My dearly beloved sisters and brothers in Christ Jesus, all you of the Archdiocese of Accra, nearly five years ago, precisely on November 24, 2013, on the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, it was with these words of the Psalmist that I joyfully began and pronounced the official closing of the year-long celebrations of our 120th Anniversary of the Catholic Mission in Accra, at the Black Star Square in Accra, and I inaugurated with great hope and expectation the 125th Anniversary celebrations for 2018.

Surely, we all thought, well, let us see when that will be!  Today, thanks to the unfathomable graces of God, here we are at the launch of the celebrations of the 125th Anniversary of the Catholic Mission in Accra.

Without any doubt, you and I can once again borrow from the Psalmist that beautiful hymn of the Jewish Pilgrim to Jerusalem which says:  “I rejoiced when I heard them say, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord’.  And now our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem!” (Ps. 122:1-2.)

Yes, five or so years ago, we set off on this spiritual pilgrimage, a journey of preparation (individually, communally, parochially, and archdiocesan), and now our feet are truly standing on the threshold of the gates of our Jerusalem; our 125th Anniversary Jubilee celebrations.  Yes, let the house of the Archdiocese of Accra say:  God’s love is indeed without end!

I am happy to welcome you one and all to this event.  Permit me to repeat ditto-ditto parts of my address at the launch some five years ago of the 120th Anniversary celebrations which took place here on July 02, 2013.  I am saying this lest I be accused of plaigiarism of my own earlier address.  I will give a short historical panorama, then I will highlight some of the events lined up for this Jubilee celebration, and I will end with some exhortation to you all.

Our 125th Anniversary celebrations will start on Saturday, December 02, 2017, and close on Sunday, November 25, 2018, on the Solemnity of Christ the King with Holy Mass to climax it all again at the Black Star Square in Accra, God willing.   Again, this will be a year-long celebration throughout the entire length and breadth of the Catholic Archdiocese of Accra.

  1. A short historical panorama: For your information, the Catholic Church in Accra began with the first Holy Mass on the soil of Accra on January 31, 1893, by Rev. Frs. Otto Hilberer and Eugene Raes, two priests of the Society of African Missions (SMA) who were sent from the Elmina Mission that had started in 1880.

In the same 1893, the first Catholic Baptism in Accra took place of Mr. Louis James Buckle on May 25, and the first Holy Matrimony was celebrated between Herbert Cheetam and Rose Mary Quaye on August 12, 1894.  However, in 1895, the Accra Catholic Mission had to be closed down for Frs. Hilberer and Raes to return to Elmina to take up priestly duty there as a result of the successive deaths of their SMA confreres in that Mission due to tropical illnesses of malaria and yellow fever.  The Catholic community of Accra was, therefore, left in the care of a Church committee led by Messrs Andoh, Brown and Yankah.

It was only in 1924 that Rev. Fr. Joseph Stauffer SMA was posted to Accra, and he purchased an old cocoa shed situated on the Derby Avenue, which he later refurbished and turned into a chapel that was dedicated in 1925 as the Sacred Heart Church (of today), the premier Church and parish of Accra.

The SMA Fathers ministered to the growing Catholic community here until 1939 when they handed over the then Eastern Province of the Gold Coast colony to the Society of the Divine Word Missionaries (SVD).  Rev. Fr. Adoph A. Noser SVD became the first Superior of the Accra Mission.

In 1947, Fr. Noser was appointed the first Bishop of Accra, and on February 08, 1953, he laid the cornerstone of this magnificent Holy Spirit Cathedral. In the same year, Bishop Noser was transferred to Papua New Guinea to be the Archbishop of Alexishaven.  He was succeeded as Bishop of Accra by Rev. Fr. Joseph Oliver Bowers SVD, JCL., an African-Caribbean from the Commonwealth of Dominica, who became the first black bishop of the Gold Coast.

After three decades of solid, foundational missionary work here, in 1971, Bishop Bowers was transferred to the West Indies, his hometown, and he was succeeded by the first Ghanaian Bishop of Accra that same year, in the person of the Most Rev. Dominic Kodwo Andoh DD., JCD, my predecessor.  It was during Bishop Andoh’s episcopacy that the Catholic Diocese of Accra was elevated to the status of a Metropolitan See in 1992, and the Catholic Diocese of Koforidua was created by Pope (now St.) John Paul II.  Archbishop Andoh, the first Metropolitan Archbishop of Accra, led this Archdiocese to celebrate the Centenary of the Catholic Church in Accra in 1993, and he retired in 2005. The rest is recent history!

(Now, since the mortal remains of my two predecessors, Bishop Bowers and Archbishop Andoh, lie here in this Cathedral, let us rise and observe a moment of silence in prayer for the repose of their souls; one day, may they be counted officially among the saints of the Church as our patrons! *** Eternal Rest grant unto them o Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them!  May they rest in peace!  Amen!  Let us sit!)

  1. Theme and programmes for the Jubilee: The chosen theme of this Jubilee is “125 Years of Catholic Mission in Accra: Renewing our commitment to Evangelization”.   It was inspired by the theme of the Second Synod of our Archdiocese celebrated in February 2009.  To refresh our minds, the theme of the Synod was: “Renewing the Church and fulfilling our Vocation and Mission in the Catholic Archdiocese of Accra in preparation for its 125th Anniversary”.

Here in my hand is a copy of the Acts of that Synod, and, for the past ten years almost, we have been implementing the recommendations that were given for the strategic development of our Archdiocese, spiritual, financial, material and institutional.  Sometime during these Jubilee celebrations, I believe, we shall have to have an Archdiocesan Pastoral Congress in order to give account of the state of the Catholic Archdiocese of Accra to you, my dear People of God.

Again, for your information, after a lot of reflection and evaluation of our 120th Anniversary celebrations and our preparations towards this Jubilee, we decided to declare as our official Archdiocesan Slogan: “Arise Catholic Faithful! Rejoice and Renew!” 

It was also decided to maintain as our Archdiocesan Logo a slightly modified version of the 120th Anniversary Logo. This will from now onwards be the official logo for the Archdiocese of Accra until another decision is made in the future.

My dear brothers and sisters, my dear priests and religious, here is a copy of the 125th Anniversary programme of activities!  The celebrations should involve all Catholics of the Archdiocese in all our outstations and parish communities, in all our Church societies and pious associations, our apostolates and ministries. We are going to have celebrations on deanery as well as on Archdiocesan levels, of course.  Parishes and deaneries are to put in place their own local organizing committees to work hand in hand with the Archdiocesan 125th Anniversary Celebrations Committee.

The year’s programmed activities aim at the three goals indispensable to the mission of the New Evangelization; they are to foster and deepen

  • the spiritual growth in Christ (see Eph. 4:13) and the development of all our Catholics, children and youth, men and women, priests and religious, etc.;
  • the correct knowledge and intellectual appreciation of the Catholic faith and doctrines (see Hos. 4:6);
  • the spirit of fellowship and communion among the Church members, Church societies, parishes and in the Archdiocese, as well as with the universal Church (see Acts. 2:42-47).

Some of the programme highlights are:

  1. Monthly Focus of Archdiocesan intentions for prayer and talks in parishes/outstations/rectorates and to be included in the various society programmes;
  2. the Archdiocesan Opening Ceremony on Saturday, December 02, 2017; Deaneries are to organize Rosary Pilgrimages and Processions from vantage points to the Holy Spirit Cathedral, Accra, for the First Advent Vespers. This is to replace the usual monthly Marian pilgrimages to the Grottos;
  3. The Official Parish Opening of the 125th Anniversary Celebrations on Sunday, December 03, 2017 in every parish/outstation/rectorate of the Archdiocese;
  4. The whole of the month of December should focus on Children as God’s gift to the Archdiocese;
  5. Saturday, December 30, 2017, Archdiocesan Carnival at the El Wak Stadium to showcase the cosmopolitan nature and cultural diversity of our Archdiocese with very colourful ethnic pageantry and cultural display. Come, one and all!  Let us have fun;
  6. The next event of importance is the Commemoration of 125th Anniversary of the First Holy Mass in Accra scheduled for Wednesday, January 31, 2018, at 14.00 GMT to take place where the SMA missionaries first celebrated Holy Mass on the soil of Accra. We are hoping to celebrate the Holy Mass in Latin, and follow that with a candle light procession with the Blessed Sacrament through James Town to the Sacred Heart Church on the Derby Avenue, Accra.

Two other very important events in the year ahead of us are:

  • the completion of the Restoration of our Cathedral,
  • and the 125th Anniversary Jubilee Lectures in Accra and Tema Metropolises.

The rest are in this brochure for you to keep and observe.  They will be communicated to you in the various parishes, outstations and rectorates.

  1. Conclusion: Yes, my dearly beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, my dear Religious Sisters and Brothers, and dear brother priests and co-shepherds, our friends of the Media, print and electronic, let me conclude again with the Psalm that I started:

O Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!

For his great love is without end.

Let the House of Israel say it:

‘His love is without end!’

Let the House of Aaron say it:

‘His love is without end!’”  (Ps: 118:1-3).

And now, let the Archdiocese of Accra say it:  His love is indeed without end!

Yes, indeed, the Lord our God has been good to us in the Catholic Mission of Accra.  In the last 125 years, He has blessed us and we have grown from a mission station into the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Accra, the Catholic Diocese of Koforidua, and the Apostolic Vicariate of Donkorkrom.  We cannot enumerate the number of the Churches and chapels, educational facilities, from first cycle through secondary, vocational and technical to tertiary, hospitals, clinics and other health-care delivery as well as the many social services institutions, etc.

Yes, here and now, our feet are standing within the gates of our Jerusalem, on the threshold of the 125th Anniversary Celebrations of the Catholic Mission in Accra.  It is our hope and prayer that we will complete this year-long celebration under the maternal protection and solicitude of Mary the Immaculate Heart, Patron of our Archdiocese, whom we have been celebrating as Our Lady of Fatima in this Centenary Year.

My dear People of God, it is with the utmost sense of humility and gratitude that I now declare officially launched the celebrations of the 125th Anniversary of the Catholic Mission of Accra, in the name of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit!  Amen.

Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us!

St. Peter Claver, pray for us!

St. Martin de Porres, pray for us!

All you Holy Martyrs of Uganda, pray for us!

And may St. Matthew on whose feast day we launch our 125th Anniversary Celebrations intercede for us!

Arise Catholic Faithful! Rejoice and Renew!

 

 “Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, to him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen!”(Eph. 3:20-21).

 

Delivered by

Most Rev. Charles G. PALMER-BUCKLE,

Metropolitan Archbishop of Accra.

Archbishop-Palmer-Buckle-at-Chrism-Mass-2017

Homily of Archbishop Palmer-Buckle at 2017 Chrism Mass

HOMILY FOR HOLY MASS OF CHRISM 2017 IN THE YEAR OF GHANA @ 60.

  1. Sermon: “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a people set apart to sing the praises of God who called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Pt. 2:9).

My dearly beloved in Christ Jesus, I chose this text from the First Letter of St. Peter, because it spells out the very import of the celebration of the Mass of Holy Chrism. 

Diaconate Ordination

Homily of Archbishop Palmer-Buckle at 2017 Diaconate Ordination

HOMILY FOR THE ORDINATION TO THE DIACONATE AT ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST PARISH, ODORKOR-ACCRA ON FRIDAY, JANUARY 06, 2012.

  1. Sermon: My dear brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, on the Feast of Epiphany, the Church invites us to meditate on the visit of the wise men from the east to Jerusalem in search of the “infant king of the Jews”.  This story of the Magi, or of the astrologers as they are often called, is only narrated by St. Matthew in his Gospel.  There is so much that you and I can learn for our spiritual development from the episode, but for this evening, permit me to dwell on the text: “The sight of the star filled them with delight, and going into the house they saw the child with his mother Mary, and falling to their knees they did him homage.  Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh” (Mt. 2:10-11).

1.1: The Feast of Epiphany commemorates the presentation of the Messiah to the world of the Gentiles, the world of the non-Jews. According to the teachings of Holy Mother Church, St. Matthew, the Jewish Gospel writer, narrates this visit in such detail in order to emphasize the Good News that Jesus Christ did not come as Messiah for only the Jews, “the Chosen People”; he came to save all of humanity, even the non-Jews who, through their own sciences (for example the science of astrology), come to know God and recognize Jesus as King of Kings, as Lord of Lords and as the Conqueror of Death, the one who ushers in the Resurrection.

St. Matthew reports that “after Jesus has been born at Bethlehem in Judaea…some wise men came to Jerusalem from the east.  ‘Where is the infant king of the Jews?’ they asked.  ‘We saw his star as it rose and have come to do him homage’”.

We are not sure from where in the east, but we are informed that they were wise men who were certain that from their science of astrology, the star they had seen as it rose indicated the birth of “the infant king of the Jews”.  They were convinced of the identity of the one whose star they had seen and they were therefore coming “to do him homage”.

Now, why would foreigners, some people from the east, want to come and do homage to “the infant king of the Jews”?  Is it not strange that even the Jews themselves, their chief priests and scribes and their king, Herod himself, did not seem to have noticed anything extraordinary at the time?  It took “some wise men from the east” to awaken the Jews, the Chosen People, their priests and scribes and even their king to the news that “the infant king of the Jews” had been born.

And thanks to the enquiries of the wise men from the east, the chief priests and scribes of the people were compelled to re-read their Books of the Law and the Prophets in order to ascertain that “the Christ was to be born ‘at Bethlehem in Judaea’’’.

1.2:  My dearly beloved, the truth, or better put the good news, is that God in his own wisdom knows how to bring all people, especially those who seek him, to knowledge of the Saviour and Messiah, knowledge of the salvation he has prepared for humanity.  What is important here now, or what we learn for our lives of faith, is that we should be ready to follow the “star” that rises from time to time in our lives and seek from others who may know so that they may lead us to a better and deeper knowledge of God. That is what the wise men from the east did by going to King Herod in Jerusalem.  After all, they were looking for the “infant king of the Jews” who had been born; and that event had to be in the palace of the king in Jerusalem, the capital of Judaea.

1.3:  “The sight of the star filled them with delight…”: Now having been informed by the Jewish chief priests and scribes, and following what they were told, the wise men are blessed with the reappearance of the star which fills them with delight and leads them to where they find the infant king of the Jews.

My dearly beloved in Christ Jesus, in our life’s journey of faith, there are times of darkness and doubt.  The star we once had seen may disappear; that is the time we should never despair of God.  Let us go on seeking. When God sees our effort at seeking and enquiring, he rewards our steadfastness with the reappearance of the star in our life’s journey; it then brings us to where we find delight in the Messiah Son of God, because our faith and hope encounter the love of God in the person of Jesus Christ.

1.4:  “Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh.” The sort of gifts these wise men from the east brought out of their treasures has very deep, indeed, mystical meaning.  Gold in those ancient days represented nothing but the most precious of gifts given especially to kings and royals.  Frankincense in the east represented devotion to the divine, in fact, adoration to God only.  Myrrh is symbolic of sacrifice and suffering in order to overcome death ultimately and attain eternal life.  So from these three gifts of the wise men who came from the east, St. Matthew teaches us all to give God nothing but our best, excellence in all our endeavours, the devotion and adoration that is due God only, and the acknowledgement that only in a life of sacrifice and even death with Christ Jesus is there victory over death for ever.

1.5:  Now permit me to address a word from this episode of the Magi to our deacons to-be!  Every seminarian starts his journey towards the Holy Priesthood with the appearance of a star; a desire to become a priest.  With the help of the formators in both the minor and major seminaries, with the help of family and friends, with the help of their priests, and even at times with the help of people unknown or most unexpected, if we listen attentively, God shows us what he would want of us and directs our paths towards the house where we encounter God in the person of Jesus Christ.

This evening, as you are soon to be ordained deacons, the final and most decisive step towards the Holy Priesthood, and who knows, maybe one day on to the episcopacy, the fullness of the Priesthood of Jesus Christ, Priest, Shepherd and Teacher, I can say that the star that sometimes appeared and even disappeared during your preparation in the seminaries, has now reappeared forcefully, and it is pointing you to the house where Christ is waiting for you with his Mother Mary and Joseph.

This evening, Jesus Christ is going to ask you for something deeper and more spiritual, or of even greater value than gold, frankincense and myrrh.  Soon, Jesus is going to ask that you become like him, chaste, obedient and poor so that as his minister/servant, you will be indeed Christ-like, and people coming into contact with you may come to know and encounter Jesus Christ the Way, the Truth and the Life in your person.

My dear friends, you are going to make your commitment to a life of celibate chastity; you are going to make a firm promise of obedience to the Holy Roman Catholic Church in the presence of the Archbishop, and you are going to be required to live a Christ-like life of poverty.

In these three virtues of chastity, obedience and poverty, Jesus will require nothing less of you than the Magi brought.  Out of your treasures, you will offer nothing to Jesus Christ the King of Kings, Lord of Lords and Saviour but the best, gold representing excellence in your ministry; you should do everything in deep devotion and adoration of God, represented by the frankincense; and you must be ready to sacrifice your life accepting to suffer like Christ did for the salvation of those you will be sent to as deacons, and later on as priests; this is represented by the gift of myrrh.

I hope, in fact, I exhort you after this ordination that, you continue to meditate on the story of the Magi and ask the Lord our God to lead you into its still deeper and more mystical meaning for your ministry as deacons and priests in the near future.

May Mary the Virgin Mother of Jesus Christ and Mother of all Christians intercede for you our deacons to-be and for us all Clergy, Religious and Laity, so that we will be truly sacraments of Jesus Christ the Servant of all, the Eternal High Priest, Teacher and Shepherd!

Hail holy Queen…

Delivered by

Most Rev. Charles G. PALMER-BUCKLE,

Metropolitan Archbishop of Accra.

First Advent Vespers

REFLECTION AT FIRST ADVENT VESPERS – SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 2016 AT THE HOLY SPIRIT CATHEDRAL, ADABRAKA-ACCRA.

  1. “Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus come!”  I greet you, dearly beloved in Christ Jesus, with these words of the responsorial Psalm of this morning, the last Saturday of the liturgical year.  According to the tradition of the Church, with this First Advent Vespers, we are starting a new liturgical year, a new year of worship.

It is, however, very interesting to note that the sentence “Maranatha!  Come, Lord Jesus come!” fits the end of one liturgical year as much as it fits the beginning of the new.  It is a prayer that fits the closing of the year and the opening of the new.  And it is this double intent, namely that one year is closing while another is opening, one day is ending while another day is just beginning, that makes Advent a very special season in the Church.

Advent is a season of expectation; “Maranatha!  Come!  Lord Jesus come!”  It is a time of expectation and therefore it also calls for preparation; because the Immanuel, God with-us will very soon become a reality for us at Christmas; God with-us will soon come into our midst in the incarnation of Jesus Christ, the Word made-flesh.  In another four weeks of Advent and we shall be celebrating the joyful season of Christmas.  God will come to be born in our midst.

  1. Advent: a time two preparations: My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, every Advent is a time of expectation, yes, but better still, let me say that it is a time of preparation; indeed a time of two preparations; namely that first preparation for the celebration of Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ in our midst, Immanuel-God-with-us!   Secondly, it is a season that calls us to focus on the coming of Jesus Christ, not anymore as a baby in a manger, but as the King and Judge of the living and the dead.  Marantha, come Lord Jesus come!  therefore, is a call to God to come and bring us home.

The question that comes up is, are we prepared indeed to “go home to the Lord our God”?  Can we say with hearts full of joyful expectation indeed “Maranatha!  Come Lord Jesus come!?”  This is what makes the First Advent Vespers very important, in order that we will get the right focus and frame of mind; because without our knowledge and awareness, morning comes, afternoon follows, so does evening and night closes the day, and another day begins only to end the same way.  However, day-in day out, with the constant cycle and succession of days and nights, we are slowly but surely inching towards the end of our earthly life.  The prospect of the end of our lives surely looms.  Are we really prepared for the Lord to come and take us home? “Maranatha!  Come Lord Jesus come!?”

  1. Advent 2016: Four Appointments: Dearly beloved in Christ Jesus, this Advent is an appointment with God and with destiny in three or even four events for us in this Archdiocese of Accra; they are these:
  2. During this Advent, we are being called to prepare to go to the polls to elect for this our dear country a President, a Government and 275 Parliamentarians to govern Ghana.
  3. Next, we are preparing for Christmas, the season of the Word-made-flesh, the Immanuel, God-with-us.
  4. Thirdly, I am inviting you the priests and religious, the lay faithful men and women, children and youth, to take up, from this Advent, an intense one-year spiritual and liturgical preparation for the 125th anniversary of the Catholic Mission in Accra which will be celebrated from next year Advent 2017 and climaxed on the Solemnity of Christ Jesus as King of the Universe in 2018.
  5. Finally, you and I cannot run away from the inevitable and imminent end of life that will come when it will come; for which reason we must always be prepared.
  1. My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, it is with these four different events and expectations that I also cry out with you and with the Church “Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus come!”
  1. For the general elections, my exhortation to you and me is: Let us watch and pray! Yes, we have been praying and should continue praying to God to save this country from anything ungodly and untowardly.  Besides, let us be watchful and let us be the keepers of Ghana, our dear country and of all its citizens.
  2. As we prepare for Christmas, let us prepare for Christ to be born in the manger of our hearts. Let us open the door to the manger of our hearts and lives to all, most especially the poor and needy.
  3. For the year-long preparation of our 125th Anniversary, let us focus on spiritual growth in the liturgy of the Church, and let us return to appreciating our liturgical traditions of songs and prayers and services. Directives on this will be given!
  4. Finally, it is only in this way, shall we be preparing for the inevitable end call to account for our earthly life and existence; namely how much the incarnation of Jesus Christ, God-with-us; how much the Immanuel, God-with-us really took place in our lives and or deeds.

“Maranatha!  Come, Lord Jesus come!”

Delivered by

Most Rev. Charles G. PALMER-BUCKLE,

Metropolitan Archbishop of Accra,

Saturday, November 26, 2016.