SUNYANI, GHANA – During a four and a-half hour Ordination Mass, the Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, ordained 14 men to the priesthood in the African nation of Ghana on July 8, 2023.

The Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, anoints the hands of one of 14 newly ordained priests for the Diocese of Sunyani on July 8, 2023, on the lawn of Christ the King Cathedral in Ghana.

The Mass, which was celebrated on the lawn of Christ the King Cathedral in Sunyani, was filled with joyful music, singing, dancing and devotion to Jesus Christ.

At the beginning of the Eucharistic celebration, the Most Rev. Matthew Kwasi Gyamfi, Bishop of Sunyani, welcomed Bishop Bambera, noting this year is the 50th anniversary of the Diocese of Sunyani.

“For us to celebrate this, I invited a brother bishop, a friend bishop, a bishop who loves this Diocese, a bishop who is already helping many of our priests who have gone to his diocese to study and come back to help us,” Bishop Gyamfi said.

During his homily, Bishop Bambera returned the warm and gracious welcome he received, indicating it is an honor, privilege and joy to celebrate the Ordination Mass.

“For some years, the Diocese of Sunyani and the Diocese of Scranton have grown in our relationship as sister dioceses in service to the Universal Church. It is a privilege to share with you our faith in the Lord Jesus,” Bishop Bambera said. “My diocese is richer because of the presence of so many of your priests and sisters who are ministering to the faithful of our parishes. I can only hope and pray that your diocese, in turn, has also experienced God’s blessings because of our relationship with you.”

Seminarians Thomas Dzwonczyk, second from left, and Andrew McCarroll, fourth from left, attended the first Mass of Rev. Eric Agyei Febiri at Saint Teresa of Avila Chuch in Berekum, Ghana, on Sunday, July 9, 2023. Rev. Febiri was ordained to the priesthood one day earlier by Bishop Bambera.

The bishop took a few moments to introduce seminarians Andrew McCarroll and Tom Dzwonczyk who have accompanied him on his return trip to Ghana this summer. Bishop Bambera first visited the Diocese of Sunyani last August for ten days.

“They are wonderful young men who are excited about their visit and anxious to experience the church in Ghana which I know will have a lasting impression upon them as they continue their priestly formation,” Bishop Bambera noted.

Before celebrating the Rite of Ordination, Bishop Bambera also spoke directly to the 14 men who were becoming priests. He urged them to make the mission of Jesus their own, serve generously and be merciful.

“Never tire of being merciful. You have the capacity of forgiveness that the Lord had,” Bishop Bambera said.

On Sunday, July 9, Bishop Bambera also confirmed 37 people at Holy Spirit Parish, located in Nkwabeng in Sunyani, where Father Clement Amankwah Yeboah is currently serving as pastor. Father Clement is beloved by many in the Diocese of Scranton, having generously served the faithful of Christ the King Parish in Archbald.

That same day, McCarroll and Dzwonczyk attended the first Mass of Rev. Eric Agyei Febiri who was ordained by Bishop Bambera the previous day. They shared photos and videos of the liturgy which took place at Saint Teresa of Avila Church in Berekum.

During their travels, unexpected tire problems turned into a blessing for Andrew McCarroll and Thomas Dzwonczyk because they had the opportunity to meet several children and families.

On July 10, Bishop Bambera and the seminarians also had the opportunity to visit Mole National Park to see the wildlife.

Some unexpected car trouble that stranded the group on the side of the road for roughly an hour was actually a blessing because they had the opportunity to visit with several children and families who came out to assist them.

Both seminarians remain in Sunyani and are sharing their journey with the faithful of the Diocese of Scranton on social media. Visit the Diocese of Scranton website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Threads to see highlights of their experiences.

SCRANTON – Less than one year after making a pastoral visit to the Diocese of Sunyani in Ghana, the Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, is planning to return to the African nation.

This time, the trip came about simply by coincidence.

“It was not my expectation that I would be traveling back to Ghana in 12 months from my original trip there last August,” Bishop Bambera said. “As providence would have it, the Catholic-Pentecostal Dialogue, which I’m very fortunate to co-chair, is being hosted this year by the Pentecostals. This year, the Pentecostals are inviting us to Accra, the capital of Ghana.”

Bishop Bambera, left, visits a church under construction in Tain, Ghana, on Aug. 16, 2022, as part of a pastoral visit to the Diocese of Sunyani. Bishop Bambera will be returning to Ghana this July.

The primary goal of the International Catholic-Pentecostal Dialogue is to foster mutual respect and understanding between the Catholic Church and Classical Pentecostal leaders and churches in light of the prayer of Jesus that all may be one (Jn 17:21). Last year, the Dialogue, which was celebrating its 50th anniversary, was hosted by the Catholics in Rome.

Because Bishop Bambera will already be in Ghana to participate in the International Catholic-Pentecostal Dialogue from July 13-19, 2023, the Bishop of the Diocese of Sunyani has invited him to return to their diocese one week earlier (July 5-12) for a very special reason.

“When it was made known to the priests of the Diocese of Sunyani that the Dialogue would take place in Ghana, their bishop, Bishop Matthew, asked me if I would honor them by celebrating the Ordination Rite for 14 men who are being ordained to the priesthood for their 50th anniversary year as a diocese,” Bishop Bambera explained.

Bishop Bambera said it was an honor to be asked to celebrate the Ordination Mass.
“I’m happily returning to Ghana both for ecumenical work and also to once again connect with the Diocese of Sunyani that has been so generous in providing for the needs of our people here in the United States,” Bishop Bambera said.

When Bishop Bambera last visited Ghana, Aug. 10-19, 2022, he celebrated the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary with more than 15,000 people, while also visiting a seminary, schools, parishes and health care facilities.

On that trip, Father Gerald Shantillo and Father Brian J.T. Clarke joined him, but this time, two seminarians from the Diocese of Scranton will accompany Bishop Bambera.

“On many occasions, the Bishop of Sunyani, Bishop Matthew, invited me to send seminarians over just to experience their country and the background from which many of the priests who are serving in our land come from,” he said. “I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to invite our seminarians.”

Thomas Dzwonczyk and Andrew McCarroll have agreed to accompany the Bishop to Ghana.

“I’m really thrilled to be able to have them, not only to travel with, but more importantly to experience the Diocese of Sunyani and the African people,” Bishop Bambera noted. “I will be with them half the time. I will leave Sunyani after about a week and then travel to Accra for the Dialogue and while I’m in Accra, the seminarians will be hosted by the priests of Sunyani and the Bishop as well.”