A SPEECH DELIVERED BY THE RECTOR, REV. FR. DR. ROBERT CHARLES SNYPER, AT THE CLIMAX OF THE 60TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION OF ST. PETER’S REGIONAL SEMINARY, UNDER THE THEME: “SIXTY YEARS OF PRIESTLY FORMATION FOR THE CHURCH IN GHANA AND THE UNIVERSAL CHURCH- A SHARED RESPONSIBILITY” ON THE 27TH MAY 2017
Professor in Chair, Dear Seminarians, Ladies and Gentlemen.
I welcome you warmly to the citadel of St. Peter.
On the 1st of November 2016, the Apostolic Nuncio to Ghana, Most Rev. Jean Marie Speich paid his maiden official visit to St. Peter’s Regional Seminary. In a Eucharistic celebration, the Nuncio received the Theology One Seminarians as Candidates for Holy Orders and ceremonially invested them with Cassocks. He advised them to be holy in word and deed because the Church needs holy men to evangelize the people. The Nuncio ended the celebration by launching the 60th Anniversary Celebration of the Seminary.
A strong foundation was laid for the 60th Anniversary Celebration when the first indigenous Rector, Most Rev. Peter Akwasi Sarpong, presided over the celebration of the Feast of the Chair of Peter on the 22nd of February 2017, in commemoration of the founding fathers of the Seminary and also in honour of all the Lay men and women who worked tirelessly to make the school what it is today. He advised the Seminarians to prioritize the priestly ministry, for the world of today needs quality priests more than ever. He also admonished them to eschew laziness; He said “Please don’t be lazy priests in the future. Don’t think that the priests, has too much to do. Yes, the Priest who wants to work hard has a lot to do. But please don’t think about (how hard your work is…) is it harder than the prison officer’s work; he is looking after criminals, or the articulator driver who has to drive his vehicle at the risk of an accident or the doctor who has to answer sick calls night and day, or the labourer weeding all the time” (pp3&4).
Very Rev. Fr. Maurice Gym took his turn on the Independence Day, the 6th of March, 2017 to interact with Staff and Seminarians in the context of the Eucharist. He took the opportunity to share with the seminarians the turbulent eddies of the priestly.
On the 12th of March 2017- the actual Birthday of the seminary- Most Rev. John Yaw Afoakwah, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Obuasi, celebrated the Eucharist with Seminarians and Staff. He shared with us his life in the seminary and its impact on his priestly ministry and the episcopacy. He encouraged the seminarians to let the zeal for the work of the Lord consume them.
The ceremonies marking the 60th anniversary reached its fever pitch when on Holy Saturday, His Eminence Peter Cardinal Appaih Turkson -President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and also the President of the New Vatican Dicastery for promoting Integral Human Development, presided over the celebration. He made us aware of how the Israelites put their destiny in the hands of God and in Moses as they gathered the courage to cross the frightening turbulent nature of the Red Sea for freedom in spite of possible mishap. He reiterated that in Baptism neophytes put themselves, their trust, fate and destiny in the hands of Jesus as if they are saying into your hands we commend our future”. Pedu cannot but echo the aforesaid.
Professor in Chair, The Theology Week, under the theme: Sixty Years of Priestly Formation for the Church in Ghana and the Universal Church- a shared responsibility, also brought into the seminary, the following eminent speakers:
1. Most Rev. Gabriel Charles Palmer-Buckle, Metropolitan Archbishop of Accra and the Vice President of the Catholic Bishops Conference for the keynote address
2. Rev. Fr. Dr. Louis Tuffour, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Kumasi
3. Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Prosper Abotsi- St. Paul’s Catholic Seminary- Sowutuom- Accra
4. Rev. Fr. Dr. Michael Mensah- St. Paul’s Catholic Seminary-Sowutuom- Accra
5. Msgr. Matthew Edusei, Former Rector of St. Peter’s Regional Seminary and now, Parish Priest of St. Augustine’s Catholic Church, Agogo.
6. Sir Benedict Assorow- Managing Editor, Standards Newspaper and Magazines Ltd.
7. Dr. Joseph Kwesi Arko- Lecturer UCC/President, West African Laity Councils
8. Mrs. Col. Rtd. Cecilia Adane Mensah
All the revered speakers helped us have a good knowledge of the past and a fair idea of the future.
Prof. in Chair, we have gathered here today to climax the yearlong celebration and to bring it to a close with the thanksgiving Mass on Sunday, the 28/05/17. What are we then actually celebrating? We are celebrating 60 years in existence of the ST. PETER’S REGIONAL SEMINARY- PEDU which had its origins within the walls of St. Teresa’s Major Seminary, Amisano.
St. Teresa’s Major Seminary which formed part of the schools of Amisano (St. Augustines College and Secondary Schools, St. Teresa’s Minor and Major Seminary) was given a new baptismal name of St. Peter’s Regional Seminary, as it was relocated to Pedu. The seminary was relocated to Pedu after St. Augustine’s Training College and Secondary School had already been relocated to Bogoso and Cape Coast respectively. The seminary was relocated to Pedu on account of the foresight and vision of the then Catholic Bishops Conference comprising -Bishops Bertrand of Navrongo-Bolgatanga Diocese, Champagne of Tamale Diocese, André Van den Bronk of Kumasi Diocese, Anthony Kõnings of Keta-Ho Diocese, Oliver Bowers of Accra Diocese and William Thomas Porter of the Cape Coast Archdiocese.
The first of the Alumni of Pedu being the 1957-year group: Rev. Frs. Michael K. de. Graft, Michael K. Ntazel Ackerson, John Kodwo Akono, Vincent Kobina Asamaoh, James Mochiah, Albert Oppong. As a matter of fact all of these Seminarians were brought to Pedu from Amisano to end the last phase of their formation. It suffices to say that the only surviving prelate of the 1950’s is the surviving Emeritus Archbishop of Kumasi, the Most Rev. Peter Akwasi Sarpong.
We are celebrating today in glamour, pomp and pageantry the 60th Anniversary as our way of paying homage to those who through thick and thin, good times and bad times dedicated their lives to establish and to sustain this ecclesiastical institution. We appreciate very much their devotion, vision, sense of purpose, hard work as well as their faith and love for our holy mother the church. We recognize in this way the Bishops Conference of the era, the names of which have already been made public.
We appreciate very much the lay faithful in the persons of Madam Clara Brown Acquaye, Matron, Elizabeth Philomena Yankolms and Felicia Andoh Quayson, secretaries.
We recognize also the Handiwork of the following: Rev. Fr. Dr. Michael Ntow (The School Crest), Rev. Deacon Calixtus Agblevor (School Flag), Rev. Fr. Anthony Aikins (The Statue in Front of the Library), Rev. Frs. Jacob Gbleh, Enoch Asmah, Emmanuel S. Dorgebetor and Lector Emmanuel Atsu Agbozo (Fabricators of the various block and hall crests) and Engineer Ebow Kakraba UCC (School Gate).
Professor in Chair, the past has been good and memorable because some people paid heed to the Gospel and came to ‘Macedonia’ of Pedu to offer the needed assistance. This helped to form priests not only for Ghana but also the universal church. The ball is now in our court. We, the alumni and the faithful, cannot but take hold of the future with the help of God. An attitude of good will energized by the grace of God is what the alumni and the church faithful need. In as much us we were able to buy a bus for the seminary, we can as well help financially to reconstruct the ageing seminary and to make it a haven of prayer and of education.
Pedu forms Priests. The word Priest from the ancient languages of Greek and Latin connotes the one who sacrifices. The principal function of a priest is therefore the act of sacrificing. The letter to the Hebrews reference to Jesus as high priest is to be understood as one who has offered himself as a sacrificial victim for the expiation of sin and as one who sacrifices. It is therefore in sacrificing- both cultic and otherwise that the priesthood finds its meaning. Jesus lived on account of providence. The apostolate of the apostles and that of the disciples was also made with the help of some Christians. The church also thrives not only on the Hail Mary Prayer but also on and with the support of many others – rich and poor, alike. What then is the way forward?
The future of the church and the formation of Priests depends greatly on the grace of God and on the family- both nuclear and extended. We can become what we were meant to be if and only if the family plays its role of nurturing offspring. Just as the education and formation of future marriage couple begins at home- the domestic church, so also does the formation of future Priests. Parents have significant roles to play in nurturing and educating their young ones into their various vocations. The psalmist says “foundation ones destroyed what can the just do.” Parents are supposed to be up to the task by giving proper. They are to help the child to sustain his commitment to the vocation and nurture it. They are not to become stumbling blocks but stepping stones. They are not to force a particular vocation on their ward but to ascertain from him the vocation in which he has a comparative advantage and is desirous of. Prayer life also begins at home and is nurtured and deepened in the seminary.
Parents should help build confidence in their children. The Parents must help the candidate to the priesthood to be a Christian to the core and be really converted to a fruitfully sacramental personality.
Gratitude- Prof in Chair, Your Grace Archbishops and Bishops, Ladies and Gentlemen, permit me to thank those, who, in the contemporary time have been of help to the Seminary: Pospa, our dear Archbishops and Bishops, Sir Raphael Nwosu, a host of Lay people, a good number of the Alumni and the seminarians themselves who have literally “owned” this institution and are contributing immensely towards the re-construction of the ageing seminary.
Thank you for your rapt attention and may the good God richly bless you.