By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — A longtime friendship between two priests — one in Ghana, Africa, and the other now a bishop in Iowa — has inspired a gift of surplus liturgical items from the Diocese of Davenport for use in a Ghana parish.
Father Charles Ahenkorah of the Diocese of Kofoidua in eastern Ghana reached out to his friend Bishop Thomas Zinkula for liturgical items for a quasi-parish being elevated to a full parish in Ghana. The two met when then-Father Zinkula and Father Ahenkorah served in the Archdiocese of Dubuque. “I have known Bishop Zinkula for 30 years. I met him in 1992 when I came to visit the late Father Patrick Geary who was my mentor and benefactor in Dubuque,” Father Ahenkorah said. Bishop Zinkula and I “have been good friends since then and I have been embraced by his family as one of them.”
The future bishop later visited his friend in Africa after Father Ahenkorah returned to his homeland. “He knows my family and has a fair idea about our diocese,” said the African priest, who returned to Iowa in 2017 to attend the ordination and installation of Father Zinkula as Bishop of the Diocese of Davenport.
Father Ahenkorah now serves as the priest in-charge of St. Paul Quasi-Parish in Kibi, Ghana, a mission parish prior to 2018 that will be elevated to a full parish later this year. He will be installed as pastor at that time. “The parish has five mission stations in addition to the main station,” he said.
Although liturgical items are available from religious supply shops in Ghana, quality and cost are challenges, Father Ahenkorah said. “We have a lot of used, but high quality liturgical items at the chancery that we donate to those who can use them,” Bishop Zinkula told his friend. Many of the items likely came to the chancery after a parish closed or merged or when a priest passed away.
Bishop Zinkula asked Deacon Frank Agnoli, the Davenport Diocese’s director of liturgy, to look into items for possible donation to the Ghana parish. Among the items are two sets of candlesticks, three chalices and patens, two ciboria, a thurible (censer) and boat (the vessel holding the incense), a monstrance and three sets of cruets. Diocesan maintenance staffers Rich Hatfield and Brian Griffiths painstakingly cleaned and polished the items in preparation for shipment.
The parish will use the items donated by the Diocese of Davenport at the main station and mission stations. Some items may be donated to quasi-parishes in the diocese as they are established, Father Ahenkorah said. Bishop Zinkula said he would like to visit Father Ahenkorah and his parish in the future. “He has extended an invitation on so many occasions, so I know I would be welcome.”
The Catholic Church in Africa “is vibrant and growing at a fast pace,” Father Ahenkorah said. “It could be even better if certain structures were put in place to support the youth who form a large percentage of the Church.” He spoke of a need for intensive catechesis, training and ongoing formation.