With drumming, dancing, and singing, the newly established Province of West Africa was formally inaugurated on February 11, 2023 the anniversary of the birth of Blessed Basile Moreau, at Holy Cross Province Centre in Cape Coast, Ghana.
Under bright, sunny skies, the Most Rev. Charles G. Palmer-Buckle, Archbishop of Cape Coast, presided and preached at the festive Mass attended by approximately 300 people. Assisting him was the Most Rev. Matthias Kobena Nketsiah, Archbishop-emeritus of Cape Coast, and several religious priests and local clergy. Music was provided by the choir of St. Brother André Bessette Senior Secondary School in Kasoa.
With Br. Paul Bednarczyk, C.S.C., Superior General, at his side, Br. John Affum, C.S.C., first Superior of the Province of West Africa, professed his Catholic faith and, with the members of his Provincial Council, took his oath of office. Br. Bednarczyk then read the official proclamation of the canonical establishment of the new Province. Br. Nee Wayoe, C.S.C., Fourth Assistant and member of the Province of West Africa, was also present for the event.
After Mass, the various visiting dignitaries were invited to give brief speeches, where Br. Affum then presented them with souvenir gifts for the occasion. All of the participants were later treated to a catered lunch featuring regional food.
The Inaugural Mass was the culmination of three days of celebrations, which began on February 9. As part of the day’s program, former missionaries to Ghana, Br. Raymond Pappenfuss, C.S.C., and Br. James Kozak, C.S.C., shared their personal recollections of the early growth of Holy Cross in West Africa. This was followed by the personal messages of Br. Robert Lavelle, C.S.C., Vicar and Assistant Superior of the Midwest Province, Br. Joseph Fox, C.S.C., and Br. Roy Smith, C.S.C., who traveled from the United States to Ghana for the celebration.
Later in the afternoon, Br. Kenneth Haders, C.S.C., Superior of the Midwest Province, and Br. Bednarczyk each gave an address on what it means to be a province within the Congregation.
The following day was one of remembrance, where the deceased Holy Cross brothers, priests, and sisters who lived and ministered in West Africa were memorialized. Fr. Cyprian Binaka, C.S.C., Superior of the Province of East Africa, presided at a solemn Mass, which was followed by a procession to the community cemetery where a memorial stone with the inscribed names of those remembered was blessed. Wreathes were then laid on the graves of the four brothers buried in the cemetery.
The Province members were delighted to welcome to the event the Holy Cross Sisters in the region as well as a contingent of six religious from the Province of East Africa, headed by Fr. Binaka.
Before becoming a province, the District of West Africa had been under the canonical supervision of the Midwest Province in the United States. In addition to the Province of West Africa, the 2022 General Chapter decreed the establishment of three other provinces, all of which came into existence on January 1, 2023: Province of East Africa, Province of Tamil Nadu, and Saint André Province of brothers in India.
“Those who have gone before us crossed borders of every sort in order to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in word and deed. Thanks to their dedication, our Congregation has taken root and expanded in various parts of the world,” stated the 2022 General Chapter in its preamble to the decrees establishing the new province. “We recognize their missionary zeal as we establish new provinces and approve of structures that promise to enhance our efforts to read the signs of the times and be faithful to our mission.”