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Ghanian priest, new St. Ambrose Roman Catholic Church assistant pastor, feted by parish in Schuylkill Haven

When the Rev. Thomas Osei Gyau was leaving his home in Ghana for the U.S. in January, he was approached by a friend bearing a parting gift.

Not knowing when they would meet again, his friend wove a fugu, or African smock, for the departing Catholic priest.

“Take this with you,” the friend said. “I am giving you an American flag.”

Father Thomas, as he is known, wore the red-white-and-blue striped smock to a gala Wednesday evening at St. Ambrose Roman Catholic Church, where he has been appointed assistant pastor. The church’s pastor is Monsignor Edward S. Zemanik.

Father Thomas wore the flag-inspired smock over a Ghanaian fugu, symbolizing the unity of the two countries.

The room erupted in applause when Father Thomas told about 100 parishioners that “you have embraced me in love as a family.”

Roseanne Bedway Ladue, one of the event’s organizers, said the 39-year-old priest’s venture is his first outside his native country in West Africa.

“He is so genuine, so friendly,” said Ladue, coordinator of adult faith formation. “Everyone feels comfortable with him.”

The parish went all-out to make the priest feel at home.

The tables had green-yellow-red coverings, the colors of the flag of Ghana. The event’s cross-cultural theme included holders with tiny flags of America and Ghana on the tables.

Guests received handouts with a map of Africa and facts about Ghana and its history. As Father Thomas spoke, images of his family and parish were flashed in a slideshow.

Ordained eight years ago, he was pastor of St. Peter’s Church in the Diocese of Sunyani before being offered the opportunity to visit the United States.

During a lengthy question-and-answer session, he responded to queries about his family and his country’s religion and government.

The second most populous country in West Africa, Ghana is the largest producer of gold on the continent. It is a multiparty democracy and its president, Nana Akufo-Addo, is seeking reelection this year, Father Thomas said.

The population of Ghana is largely Christian, he said, adding that there are many Pentecostal churches and a significant Muslim minority.

Responding to a question about the sacrament of Confession, he said it is largely administered face to face, unlike in America.

When asked what was the one thing he wanted to see in America, he said that it was St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, which he read about in Ghana. He has yet to visit the seminary, which is scheduled to relocate to Gwynedd Mercy University in Montgomery County this year.

In a parting gesture, he said, “God bless America, Ghana, St. Ambrose and us all.”

The Rev. Thomas Osei Gyau, a priest from Ghana, left, was the guest of honor at a party at St. Ambrose Roman Catholic Church in Schuylkill Haven. With him are Monsignor Edward S. Zemanik, pastor, and Roseanne Bedway Ladue, a parish member who led the party's organizing committee. (Republican-Herald)
The Rev. Thomas Osei Gyau, a priest from Ghana, left, was the guest of honor at a party at St. Ambrose Roman Catholic Church in Schuylkill Haven. With him are Monsignor Edward S. Zemanik, pastor, and Roseanne Bedway Ladue, a parish member who led the party’s organizing committee. (Republican-Herald)


Source: Berkshire mont

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