The church by its nature and origin is intrinsically Missionary (cf. Ad Gentes, 2) as an instrument and means of salvation. This stems from the fact that its founder, Jesus Christ, had the mission of saving mankind through his passion, death and resurrection (the paschal mystery) and its sanctification in the Holy Spirit.
“In the missionary activity of the church begins the planting, then newness . The church’s missionary activity does not cease but there lies upon the particular churches, the duty to continue this activity of preaching the gospel to those still outside” (A.G 6).
The seed of the Catholic Church was sown in the then Gold Coast at Elmina in May 1880 by Frs. Mureau and Murat who were Dutch belonging to the Society of Missionaries of Africa (S.M.A).
The early missionary made the effort to spread the gospel throughout the Asante Kingdom. From Kumasi, the capital and centre of the Asante Church, the faith then started spreading to other places. The next church to be established in the Kingdom was at Obuasi in 1904.
Obuasi becomes a Diocese
With the growth of the church in then Kumasi Diocese coupled with the increasing number of priests, and for effective pastoral ministry throughout the diocese, the Holy See saw the need to divide the Kumasi diocese into three namely: Kumasi, Obuasi and Konongo-Mampong. Thus, on March 3, 1995, when history was made by the creation of five new diocese comprising Keta-Akatsi, Jasikan and Damango in the Catholic Church in Ghana, Konongo-Mampong and Obuasi were included in the bull signed by the late Pope John II.
As a result of the creation of the Obuasi, St. Thomas Parish in Obuasi in the Obuasi town was consequently raised to the status of a Cathedral, becoming the seat of the diocese with Msgr. Joseph Amoako-Adusei as its first Cathedral Administrator. The first bishop appointed was in the person of the Most Rev. Thomas Kwaku Mensah (the then secretary-general of the Ghana National Secretariat). He was consecrated on 28th May 1995 (at the Len Clay Sports Stadium, Obuasi), thereby taking canonical possession of the Obuasi diocese accordingly.
Initially, the diocese began with twelve parishes and a rectorate (with three deanaries namely: Obuasi, Agroyesum and Bekwai) within the five administrative districts of Amansie, Adansi, Atwima-Kwanwoma and Bosomtwe covering the area of 6.350 square kilometers with a Catholic population of 101,041 (out of the 1,024,850 inhabitants). It had about 26 native and 3 missionaries’ priests. However after sixteen years (1995-2011), the diocese now has 27 parishes and 6 rectorates and 4 pastoral Units demarcated into six deanaries (Obuasi, Tutuka, Bekwai, Agric Nsema, Kuntanase and Agroyesum) with four (4) religious priests, seven (7) religious brothers, thirty (30) religious sisters, seventy-five (75) diocesan priests and twenty (24) Major Seminarians (8 in Spiritual year) and six hundred and eight (608) catechists. The diocese is also blessed with nine (9) health institutions (3 Hospitals and 6 Clinics), eighty-three (83) Kindergarten Schools, hundred and five Elementary Schools and thirty-seven (37) Secondary Schools.
After the inauguration of the diocese, the Bishop, in consultation with the Clergy, the Religious, Church Presidents and Secretaries of all the Parishes, decided to carry out a Baseline Survey to draw up Pastoral and Socio-Economic Visions of the Diocese. It was realized that the diocese had to cope with many challenges including the establishment of structures, hence, was named “Nyame Bekyere” (God will intervene). With a humble beginning, the diocese began a journey of faith with complete trust in the providence of God. The Bishop used the Chaplain’s house at Christ the King Catholic Senior High School at Akaporiso, Obuasi as his first place of residence and the Cathedral office as the diocesan secretariat, till proper ones were built. At the moment the diocese is blessed with the following physical structures:
– A priest’s House at Pomposo, Obuasi – for priests working at the Secretariat
– A nicely built Bishop’s resident at Nyameso ( a suburb of Obuasi)
– A renovated Cathedral Church and Presbytery.
– Pope John Paul II Formation/Training Centre at Ofoase Kokoben for on-going formation courses for the clergy and the laity in order to witness to the faith. This centre is also open to individuals and cooperate entities that want to undertake spiritual uplifting exercise.
– A Diocesan Secretariat at Kwabenakwakrom (A suburb of Obuasi)
– Ave Maria Women’s Training Centre at Tutuka, Obuasi to create the awareness in women’s rights and roles they play in Society.
– A Girl school Complex (from Primary to Secondary and Vocational) Called “Presentation of our Lady” school complex now at its early stages at kwabenakwakrom is a means of promoting girl-child education by the diocese in the country.
– Jubilee 2000 Guest House (uncompleted)
– The Fenech Guidance and Counseling Centre for student teaching at the Akrokerri College of Education still under construction.
– A place of residence for Diocesan Workers at Pomposo, Obuasi
– Our Lady Queen of the Heaven and Earth Grotto at Abono near Kuntenase to promote devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. (Now under construction).
– The Benito Clinic at Dompoase
– An Eye Clinic at the St. Michael Hospital at Pramso near Jachie, Ashanti.
– An Orphanage at Kwabenakwakrom (Under construction)
– Currently S. Thomas Filtered Water Production Unit has been established at the Secretariat premises to produce wholesome water for public consumption
The Catholic Schools with the status of secondary education level in the diocese are Christ The King Senior High School at Akaporiso, Obuasi, St. John The Evangelist School at Bekwai, St. Joseph Senior High School at Ahwiren and St. George’s Senior High/Vocational School at Kuntanase.
Hospitals, Health stations and Clinics in the diocese include St. Martin’s (Agroyesum), St. Michael’s Hospital (Pramso), St. Peter’s Hospital (Jacobu), St. Thomas Clinic (Hiaa), St. Louis Clinic (Bodwesango), St. Mary’s Clinic (Yapesa) and Mother of God Clinic (Esaase-Bontefufuo). Then, there is a health service centre taking care of the handicapped, mental rehabilitation as well as hospital service at Komfokrom (Dompoase near Adanse Fomena).
Within the past years, the diocese has had wonderful and successful memorable celebration including: Pastoral Congress in 1996 at Christ the King Senior High School, Obuasi, Eucharistic Congress in 1997 at Kuntenase, Investiture of three priests (Joseph Amoako Adusei, Augustine Bio and Michael De-Graft) as Monsignors in December in 1997, Bi-annual choral competition sponsored by Lawyer Franklin Asamoah The Great Jubilee of the Holy Year 2000 at Akrokerri, Apostolic visit of the Papal Nuncio (Most. Rev. George Kocherry) in June 2002, and the hosting of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference (November, 2003) in which the first Ghanaian Cardinal, his Eminence, Peter Appiah Turkson was heartily welcomed at the St. Thomas Cathedral in a very colorful Pontifical Mass. As part of the celebration the St. Thomas Cathedral was dedicated to God by His Emenence Peter Cardical Kwadwo Appiah Turkson, the then Archbishop of the Cape Coast Archdiocese. In addition, the diocese has witnessed the honouring of her hard working faithful as knight of St. Gregory and Sylvester and Dame of St. Agnes. Besides the diocese also vested three of his priest as monsignors. They are Mgsr. Tuffour Amoah, Owusu Afriyie and Osei Nyarko.
In these last sixteen years, there has not been any incident of death of a diocesan clergy. However, we recall the passing away of two pioneering missionaries of the Spiritan Congregation, Frs. Augustine and Vincent Murhpy, as well as a theology one diocese major seminarian, Francis Enyan Poku and William Takyi who also died at Sowutuom, Accra. May their souls rest perfect peace.
The basic pastoral challenge include inadequate vehicles for pastoral work, the bad nature of roads to the outstations and many of these outstations are not having church buildings, the poor financial status of most parishes making it difficult to meet the yearly budget, poor telecommunication network making information flow difficult. Moreover, the church is further challenged with the spread/upsurge of Buruli Ulcer at Agroyesum and its environs and the threat of HIV/AIDS in Obuasi town.