Take 5 with Father: Universal Messenger

by Susan Moses

North Texas Catholic

Fr. Philip Brembah (NTC/Juan Guajardo)

He is: Father Philip Brembah, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Arlington.

He has served in the diocese since 2008 at parishes including St. Joseph in Arlington, Holy Family of Nazareth in Vernon, St. Joseph in Crowell, and St. Mary in Quanah.

Ordained: July 19, 1998 for the Archdiocese of Kumasi, Ghana. 

Growing up: Father Philip Boateng, the priest who celebrated the marriage of his parents and baptized him, was his namesake and mentor. Despite being close to Fr. Boateng, the younger Philip planned to be a soldier or study law or politics. 

He reluctantly entered seminary for a discernment year, then he decided to stay.

Best part of being a priest: “Being close to Christ is number one. Recognizing that unworthy though I may be, I can still lead the people of God to celebrate the center of our lives, the Eucharist, and all the other sacraments.” 

Texas means friendly: When Fr. Philip moved here, he found “people welcoming and warm, and you could speak to people you didn’t know.”

On having a favorite priest: “Faith is not about a person, it is about Christ. I don’t make it about me, I have to make it about Christ. Stay in your parish to build your church. It’s good to like people, but you have to love Christ above the minister, who is only an instrument. It’s not about him, it’s about Christ.”

A bigger family: Being so far away from his four siblings and his mother in Ghana can be difficult, but by focusing on his mission, “there is so much joy. Whether they speak your language or not, you still belong to a bigger family, which is the Church. Whether you are at home or abroad, people still call you ‘Father.’”

Favorite food: “My stomach is also Catholic. I’m not very particular, I eat everything.” 

Native speaker: Fr. Brembah speaks at least seven languages, and he’s learning Spanish.

Universality of the church: “I see [the universality of Catholicism] every day, especially at communion time. The hands that are stretched towards you are not the same. Some are white, some are black, some are brown. Some are old, some are young, some are firm, some are feeble. And that for me represents the universal nature of the Church. 

“People dress differently, people look different, but at the same time, it doesn’t matter where you come from or where you live, we all gather around the same table, the altar of sacrifice of the Lord and it is the same chalice of salvation that we lift, and it is the same body of Christ that we eat.

 “That is the beauty of the universality of the Church. That you are not a stranger anywhere.”

Hobbies: Fr. Philip enjoyed playing soccer, but since moving to Texas, he only watches it. He walks most days, unplugged, so he can listen to birds and dogs, and he also enjoys reading.

Takeaway: “Be well focused on Christ and not to be distracted by the various by the various noises that go on around us. Stay focused on Christ. There can be a lot of distractions, but you don’t have to miss the boat.”

On life as a missionary: “What I have to do is pack my stuff when I’m asked to, and move to where I have to be. I enjoy every moment the best way I can. Live in the moment and live the best that you can in the moment to be of service to others. Bring them closer to the reason why you said ‘yes’ to the Lord. It could be here, it could be back in Ghana, it could be anywhere else. It would be the same.”

Meet Father Philip Brembah, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Arlington, who says "it doesn’t matter where you come from or where you live, we all gather around the same table, the altar of sacrifice of the Lord."

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