Building ties around the world

by Susan Moses

North Texas Catholic

February 25, 2020

Bishop Olson and Fr. Maurice Moon with the presbytery of the Archdiocese of Kumasi, GhanaBishop Olson and Fr. Maurice Moon with the presbytery of the Archdiocese of Kumasi, Ghana
Bishop Michael Olson and Father Maurice Moon take a group photo with clergy from the Archdiocese of Kumasi. (Courtesy photo/Father Maurice Moon)


FORT WORTH — The 6,295 miles between Fort Worth and Kumasi, Ghana is not as far as it appears. The distance became even smaller the last week of January, when Bishop Michael Olson and Father Maurice Moon visited the African country.

For many years, the Archdiocese of Kumasi has sent missionary priests to locations in Europe and the U.S., including the Diocese of Fort Worth. Currently, Father Philip Brembah, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Arlington, and Monsignor Francis Tawiah, parochial vicar of St. Philip the Apostle Parish, are assigned to the diocese. 

To increase solidarity between Kumasi and Fort Worth, and to gain a better cultural understanding of the many Ghanaian immigrants in our diocese, Bishop Olson accepted a long-standing offer to visit from Kumasi Archbishop Gabriel Anokye.

On their first day, the Texans celebrated a four-hour Mass with Archbishop Anokye, who preached for an hour in Twi and English. Fr. Moon observed that Mass in Ghana is very similar to a Mass in the diocese, but it includes more elaborate processions. For example, an extended procession occurs before the Gospel reading, and, at the collection, each person dances up the aisle to drop his offering in the basket, in the order of the day of the week he was born.

During the trip, Bishop Olson made a point to meet the families of Fr. Brembah and Msgr. Tawiah “to thank them for the gift of their sons as brother priests,” he said.

In the days following, the bishop and Fr. Moon became acquainted with seminarians at St. Gregory the Great Provincial Major Seminary, and they visited with religious sisters who run a shelter and trade school for homeless women. 

Also, they soaked up the history and culture of the region by touring museums and by watching dancing performances. 

Bishop Olson had a memorable sixth anniversary as Bishop of Fort Worth, celebrating Mass with the assembly of priests of the Kumasi Archdiocese.

After a week in Kumasi, Bishop Olson and Fr. Moon returned to Fort Worth. The chaplain of Nolan Catholic High School said he gained a new sense of gratitude for good roads and reliable transportation.

The visit to Ghana affirmed and strengthened the relationship between the two dioceses. The Kumasi people and clergy were grateful for the rare visit from an American bishop, according to Bishop Olson. The personal connection “promotes our lives as brothers and sisters in Christ. Ghana is not just a place where we get priests.”

The week also provided insights into how the Catholic faith is lived in vastly different societies.

Bishop Olson was impressed with the spirit of evangelization in Ghana. Fr. Moon noted the poverty of the community, yet he was impressed by how generous the people were with their time and the little that they owned. He said, “They don’t have much money, and their focus is on their family and their faith.  

“They haven’t been as affected by materialism and secularism as the West has. I think we can learn a lot from the Church in Africa — their simplicity; their willingness to sacrifice everything for their faith, for their family,” he reflected.

The Scripture verse “Man does not live on bread alone” took on extra meaning for Fr. Moon in light of the visit. He said, “In the West, we have all the bread we want, but we are still unhappy. In Africa, they don’t have much bread, but they are still extremely happy and joyful and at peace.”

 

The 6,295 miles between Fort Worth and Kumasi, Ghana is not as far as it appears. The distance became even smalBishop Michael Olson and Father Maurice Moon with the priests of the Archdiocese of Kumasi, Ghana.

FORT WORTH — The 6,295 miles between Fort Worth and Kumasi, Ghana is not as far as it appears. The distance became even smaller the last week of January, when Bishop Michael Olson and Father Maurice Moon visited the African country.

Published (until 2/25/2035)