‘God is good’: Priests from Ghana reciprocate gift of ministry

Father David Paintsil, left, and Archbishop Charles Palmer-Buckle of Cape Coast, Ghana, smile during Mass at St. Mary Parish in Iowa City last month. Father Paintsil, the parish’s parochial administrator, is one of three Cape Coast priests serving in the Diocese of Davenport.

By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger

Archbishop Charles Palmer-Buckle of Africa smiled as Father David Paintsil and the choir of St. Mary Parish in Iowa City sang the Twi hymn “Asem Papa Bia Mate Oye” during Mass. It reminded both the archbishop and the priest of home in Cape Coast, Ghana, yet the song’s message was universal. “It means, ‘There is good news, I have heard, that God is good,’” Father Paintsil told The Catholic Messenger.

The choir’s desire to perform a Ghanaian hymn touched the archbishop. “The choir did a good job,” Father Paintsil said. “The archbishop was so happy … their pronunciation was good. He was impressed to hear them singing exactly like a Ghanaian would sing!”

The archbishop presided at Mass at St. Mary last month as part of a personal trip to the United States. More than 20 priests from Cape Coast serve in the U.S., including three in the Davenport Diocese. He hoped to connect with as many clergy and leaders as possible, Father Paintsil said. 


Diocesan Administrator Father Ken Kuntz concelebrated the Mass and spoke to the congregation before the closing hymn. On behalf of the diocese, he expressed gratitude to Archbishop Palmer-Buckle for his presence and celebration of the Mass. “We are especially grateful to (him) for sending us several excellent priests to serve in our diocese.”

Father Paintsil, who arrived in the United States in February 2023, began serving St. Mary Parish in July as parochial vicar. He is now the parochial administrator. The other Cape Coast priests serving the diocese are Father Louis Hammond, a chaplain at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City and Father Francis Mensah, the pastor of St. Peter Parish-Cosgrove, St. Mary Parish-Oxford and St. Mary Parish-Williamsburg. He also serves as defender of the bond for the diocesan marriage tribunal.

“I am really grateful to God that Father David can serve you here,” the archbishop told the Iowa City congregation. “We always say we believe in one holy, Catholic and apostolic church. So, the Church everywhere is the same.”

Later, Father Francis Odoom of Cape Coast spoke by phone with The Catholic Messenger. He served seven years in the Davenport Diocese before returning home in 2022. He said Catholics in Ghana are grateful to missionaries from the United States and Europe for sharing the faith.

“Thankfully, that seed has borne fruit in the number of vocations we are getting and the efforts of evangelization that can be witnessed on the (African) continent. It becomes an act of pastoral charity to give back to the countries that gave us the Gospel.”

“It is a beautiful exchange of culture and I find it a blessing,” Father Paintsil told The Catholic Messenger, adding that missionary priests inspired him as a child. Cape Coast has about 250 active priests, he said. “By the grace of God, the Church in Cape Coast has grown… it is joyful to give back.”

Priests from Cape Coast also serve in the Dubuque Archdiocese and the Des Moines Diocese in Iowa. Archbishop Palmer-Buckle met with Bishop William Joensen of Des Moines and Archbishop Thomas Zinkula of Dubuque before traveling to Iowa City. He planned to visit priests serving in Texas and New York before returning to Cape Coast. “He chose to visit us priests to know how we are doing and encourage us. He also needed to take some rest from the heavy responsibilities of being an archbishop,” Father Paintsil said.

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