HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE CHURCH IN THE NOW CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF WIAWSO FROM 1900 TO 30TH DECEMBER 1999
The historical process of Catholicism in the now Catholic Diocese of Wiawso started from scattered sources due to the political, administrative and ecclesiastical set up at that time. Politically and administratively, the now Wiawso Diocese was under Dunkwa Parish. Ecclesiastically, Wiawso was part of Sekondi-Takoradi Diocese which was and is still a suffragan of the ecclesiastical province of Cape Coast. Therefore, Wiawso, Sekondi-Takoradi and Cape coast form the Cape Coast Province.
At the time when missionaries from Europe were in the then Cape Coast Province to see to the planting of the Church, some found themselves on the soil of what is now called Catholic Diocese of Wiawso.
Below is an attempt to trace the course of this historical process:
STAGE ONE OF THE HISTORICAL PROCESS: BIBIANI IN 1900
The seed of Catholicism in the present Catholic Diocese of Wiawso was first sown in the year 1900 in Sefwi Bibiani under the tutelage of Rev. Father Tilley, who was later appointed as a resident priest in 1912. It must be stated that prior to the appointment of Father Tilley, he was coming from Dunkwa. Therefore, Bibiani Parish Church was born out of the Parish Church of Dunkwa-on-Offin in early 1900; Bibiani was an outstation of Dunkwa Parish.
The station formally became a parish under the able leadership of Rev. Father J. Fisher. As a missionary, Fr. J. Fisher also walked from Dunkwa to Bibiani passing through Diaso since that was the access road connecting the two towns at that time. It is important to acknowledge that the missionary zeal that sowed the seed of Catholicism in Bibiani was ferocious. A lot of pastoral activities took place. For instance, from 1900 to 1937 the following missionaries travelled from Dunkwa-on-Offin to minister to the people of Sefwiland. Among some of the notable pastoral activities at the time were:
1920: Rev. Father Fisher from Dunkwa visited Bibiani, Datano, Asafo, Benkyema and Afere.
During those visits seventy four (74) adults were baptized who later became
1924: Rev. Father A. Haas from Half Assini also visited the Sefwis living west of the Tano River.
In Asafo and Benkyema he baptized about fifty adults.
1925: Rev. Father Charles Onimus from Tarkwa visited Datano, Asafo, Benkyema and Afere and baptized seventy (70) adults.
1930: Rev. Father Fisher from Dunkwa for the second time visited the four stations of Datano. Asafo, Benkyema and Afere and baptized fifty four adults and forty eight infants.
1932: Rev. Father A Tillic from Dunkwa was an assistant Priest in charge of the District. He opened the so called Debiso line (Trans-Bia) comprising the following towns:
He “blessed” six marriages, baptized twenty adults and a hundred infants.
1935: Rt. Rev. Bishop Porter visited Asafo and Afere for the first time where thirteen candidates were confirmed.
As the pastoral needs of the people increased, Bibiani was created as a parish in 1912.
STAGE TWO: ASAFO IN 1908
Chronologically, Asafo fell under the next stage of the development of Catholicism in the now Catholic Diocese of Wiawso. The seed of Catholicism took firm root on 20th October 1924. It must, however, be noted that as far back as 20th October 1908, one Rev. Tillic came to Asafo from Dunkwa to celebrate the Holy Mass.
It is believed that one Opanin Peter Yaw Adjei, a trader, brought the church from Nzema. Frequent praying of the rosary was the predominant liturgical activity for the so-called young church. The new church started to grow in numbers. The unquenchable zeal of the people resulted in the construction of a temporary church building in 1914. The missionary benefits in Asafo and its environs were extended to Sefwi Afere. As a result of the pastoral zeal of the missionaries, Asafo became a parish in 1924.
It is worth mentioning that the one and only catholic hospital in the diocese is located in Asafo. The hospital was built in 1956 through the instrumentality of Bishop William Porter. Since the establishment of the Parish till date St. Agatha Parish has grown both materially and spiritually.
Asafo has been an area from which many Parishes have emerged. Notable ones among them are St. Peter Parish, Sefwi Asawinso and St. Augustine Parish, Sefwi Boako.
STAGE THREE: ENCHI IN 1916
History has it that the efforts of Opanin Tano Kwasi Ngissah, Opanin Patafour Kwasi and Nana Kofi saw to the planting of the church at Enchi in the year 1916. The view is held that the faith was brought from Nzemaland. These “local missionaries” were traders. By their efforts, the church spread to several places in the now Aowin Municipality and Suaman District. Since the planting of the Church in Brussaland, pastors and all pastoral agents have worked tirelessly for its sustenance. Now the Church in Brussaland has grown with many branches after it had attained the status of a Parish in 1940 at Enchi.
Currently the faith has spread to several areas. Enchi Immaculate Conception Parish has given birth to three other parishes. These are Dadieso, Jema and Yakase.
STAGE FOUR: BOBRAPA (BEKWAI) IN 1917
After Enchi, the third seed of Catholicism fell on the soil of Bobrapa near Ampenkro in the 1917. Currently, Bobrapa is a defunct village. However, this geographical area is now under Sefwi Bekwai Parish. The first Catholic Church in the Sefwi Bekwai Parish was established under the guardianship of Opanin Kwame Sobre in1917 at Bobrapa. This event was necessitated after his return from a sojourn in the Ivory Coast where he had worshipped with the faithful in that Country. Later, a branch of the church was established at Atronsu in 1920 when the people from Bobrapa came to settle at Atronsu. From Atronsu, it was extended to Bekwai and its environs in the 1920s.
After 1920 the wind of Catholicism continued to blow all over Atronsu and its environs till Bekwai was created a parish in 1991, many years after the planting of the seed.
It is important to put on record that the first Sefwi Catholic priest, Rev. Monsignor Peter Cleophas Affih-Mensah of blessed memory, hails from this area, specifically Sefwi Atronsu. He was ordained a priest on 20th July, 1980. After several and many dedicated services to Holy Mother church, Very Rev. Peter Cleophas Affih-Mensah was made Monsignor on 25th October, 2008.
STAGE FIVE: AFERE IN 1924
This stage in the development of the Church was reached through the unflinching support of “local missionaries” from Asafo. Their assistance was so strong that though Asafo was not yet a parish, Afere was then referred to as an outstation of Asafo. The seed was first planted in the 1920 but took firm root in 1924. Afterwards, it tentacles spread far and wide within the area. As a result of the tremendous growth, Afere became a parish in 1991 with fifty outstations. Rev. Fr. Francis Ackaah-Mensah was the first Parish Priest.
With the tremendous growth of the Parish, coupled with pastoral demands, St. Anthony Parish at Juaboso, and St. Matthew Parish at Bodi was created out of Afere Parish.
STAGE SIX: SEFWI WIAWSO IN 1927
The pioneering role in the establishment of the Church in Sefwi Wiawso was played by the following people around 1927: Teacher Mensah, Opanin Kwaku Nkuah, Kwaku Amoah, Kwabena Boamah, Kwame Mintah, and Kwame Tano.
St. Joseph Church was an outstation of St. Stephen Parish, Dunkwa. Later when St. Teresa Parish, Bibiani, was established in 1912 Wiawso became an outstation of Bibiani Parish. It was so until 1964 when Wiawso was raised to the status of a Parish with Father Peter Giebels as the resident priest.
It must be acknowledged that local contribution to the establishment of the church in this part of the country was tremendous. One person whose contribution to the church cannot be glossed over is the Late Nana Kwadwo Aduhene II.
Wiawso Parish has grown to the extent that it has given birth to four Parishes: St. Mary at Dwenase, St. Andrew at Aboduam, St. Matthew at Akontombra and St Joseph at Nsawora.
On 30th December, 1999 Wiawso was pronounced a diocese with Most Rev. Joseph Francis Kweku Essien as the first Bishop. The Bishop was ordained and installed in Wiawso on 25th March 2000. St. Joseph Parish then became the Cathedral.
STAGE SEVEN: ADJOAFUA IN 1932
Sefwi Adjoafua is the next stage as far as the growth of the church in the now Diocese of Wiawso is concerned. It occurred in 1932. It all started with the collective efforts of Opaninn Kwasi Ofori, Kwabena Nkrumah, Kwame Amoah, Maame Akosua Badu Asor and Madam Akuah Amoah. They prepared candidates for baptism, confirmation and the Holy Eucharist. Priests from the then Dunkwa District came to minister to the faithful.
It was not until 1982 that Adjoafua was created as a Parish with Rev. Fr. John Ofori Domah as the first Parish Priest.
Adjoafua has grown to give birth to St. Teresa Parish at Yawmatwa, St. Mary Parish at Adabokmrom and St. Anthony Parish at Essam.
STAGE EIGHT: DADIESO IN 1937
St Michael Church at Suaman-Dadieso was founded in 1937. The Church was brought there by Nana Kwasi Fuakye who was formerly a Methodist. As a farmer Nana Kwasi Fuakye travelled to Sefwi Benchemaa for farming purpose. The Catholic Church was the only Church at Sefwi Benchemaa then so he joined the church there to worship with the members. He grew in love with the Catholic way of worship. As a result, on his return to Suaman-Dadieso in 1937 he started the Catholic Church there with his nuclear family. Later some members of his extended family and other members of the community joined them. The Church kept on growing since then.
St. Michael Church, Suaman-Dadieso, used to be an outstation of Sefwi Asafo. It however became an outstation of Enchi when Enchi was inaugurated a parish in 1940. St Michael Church was made a parish in1997 with Rev. Fr. Joseph Asare as the first Parish priest.
STAGE NINE: YAWMATWA IN 1940
The planting of the Church in Asafo brought tremendous benefits to places in its vicinity. Of no exception is Sefwi Yawmatwa. Missionaries from Asafo were always offering pastoral assistance to the people of Yawmatwa. The seed was planted in 1940 per the untiring efforts of Opanin Koaku, Opanin Yaw Ahwa and Opanin Manu.
St. Teresa of the Child Jesus Catholic Church, Yawmatwa, was an outstation of St. Agatha Parish. Later when Adjoafua was created as a Parish, it became an outstation of Adjoafua Parish. In 1996, Yawmatwa attained a status of a Parish when it was carved out of Adjoafua Parish with Very Rev. Fr. John Bosco Afful of blessed memory as the first parish priest.
Owing to the pastoral demands in the St Terasa Parish, Yawmatwa, St Anthony Parish, Oseikojokrom, was carved out of it in 2003.
You may find below the years and names of some of the Missionaries who traversed the soil of both Sefwi and Brussa lands and sacrificed all that they had for the planting and nurturing of the seed of faith:
|Rt. Rev. William Porter
(Metropolitan Archbishop of Cape Coast)
|1924||Rev. Fr. A. Haas|
|1925/27||Rev. Fr. Onimus|
|1928/30||Rev. Fr. J. Fisher|
|1930/32||Rev. Fr. A. Tillic|
|1933/37||Rev. Fr. W. Samuels|
|1935||Rev. Fr. A. Koch|
|-||Rev. Fr. Haus|
|1939||Rev. Fr. Leuwen|
|1939||Rev. Fr. J. V. D. Broek|
|1940||Rev. Fr. H. Naus|
|1941||Rev. Fr. Borchmans|
|1942||Rev. Fr. Wonters|
|-||Rev. Fr. J. Mays|
|1944||Rev. Fr. Kerchoffs|
|1951||Rev. Fr. Kersten|
|1952||Rev. Fr. Koenders|
|1953||Rev. Fr. Wieggers|
|1962||Rev. Fr. P. Kessels|
|1964||Rev. Fr. Giebels|
|-||Rev. Fr. deVreeze|