REPORT OF THE CATHOLIC ARCHDIOCESE OF KUMASI ON THE CELEBRATION OF THE EXTRAORDINARY JUBILEE YEAR OF MERCY
This report, from the Catholic Archdiocese of Kumasi, Kumasi-Ghana, West Africa is on how the Archdiocese celebrated the Holy Year of Mercy declared by Pope Francis. The Year of Mercy began on Tuesday, December 8, 2015 when Pope Francis opened the Holy Door in St. Peter’s Basilica, symbolizing that a Jubilee is underway. This Jubilee Year of Mercy was a response to the world’s need for a revolution of tenderness from which justice and peace and all other virtues derive. As Pope Francis himself subtly puts it “We are used to bad news, cruel news, and to even bigger atrocities, which offend the name and life of God. Ending those tragedies requires a spirit of mercy”.
The motto of the Jubilee Year of Mercy was to be, “Compassionate like the Father”, meaning that God forgives always hence, man must never be tired of asking for forgiveness.
On Tuesday, December 8, 2015, the Universal Church celebrated the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and this Solemnity coincided with the feast day of the Institute Filiae Sanctissimae Trinitatis (FST), our Diocesan Religious Institute, with a Holy Mass by Most Rev. Peter Kwasi Sarpong, the Emeritus Archbishop of Kumasi. This feast brought together a lot of priests, religious and lay faithful at Kyirapatre Parish, Kumasi. During the celebration of the Eucharist which began at 9.30a.m, two (2) sisters were finally professed, three (3) took their First Profession and four (4) renewed their vows as a sign of total dedication to God, who is supremely loved and perfection of charity in the service of God’s Kingdom.
Before the official launching of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, a programme committee was set up by the Archbishop to draw up a whole year round programme for the Jubilee Year of Mercy. For an active, conscious and fruitful participation, copies of the programme brochures were distributed to all Parishes, Rectorates, Chaplaincies, and various Congregations and Institutions and Societies in the Archdiocese.
Preparation for the Official Launching
A whole week-long programme was drawn to prepare the entire faithful, clerics and lay faithful alike, to usher them into a fruitful celebration of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.
From Sunday December 13, 2015 to Saturday December 19, a whole week preparation was made for the local launching of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. The programme included among other things: the recitation of the Holy Rosary, talks on various themes like the “Joy of being a Christian”, on “Forgiveness”, on “How to resolve conflicts in families”, on “Jesus the light of the world”, on “Marriage as a divine institution”. On Saturday December 19, there was a communal Reconciliation Service for the inmates of the various prisons in the Archdiocese of Kumasi.
On Thursday, December 24, 2015 Most Rev Gabriel Justice Yaw Anokye, the Archbishop of Kumasi officially launched and blessed the main door of the St. Peter’s Cathedral Basilica - Kumasi, signifying the opening of the door of mercy in this Jubilee Year of Mercy. Two (2) delegates from all the Sixty five (65) Parishes, Rectorates, Institutions and the various societies were present at the official launching. In his homily, the Archbishop explained why there is the need for this Jubilee Year and spelt out what the faithful should do to receive the plenary indulgence. He said among other things:
a. That those who pass through a Holy Door of the Cathedral Basilica during this Jubilee Year will receive a plenary indulgence, which removes all of the temporal punishment for sins committed, provided the recipient also goes to confession, receives Communion, and prays for the intentions of the Roman Pontiff.
b. That the opening of the Jubilee Year also marked the 50th anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council (1965 - 2015), so the faithful must endeavour to read extracts of four major conciliar documents during the Jubilee Year.
c. There is the need to shine a light on the fourteen (14) “works of mercy,” acts that are intended to be both penance and charity. These works of mercy are divided into “seven (7) corporal” and “seven (7) spiritual”. The corporal works of mercy are feeding the hungry; giving drink to the thirsty; clothing the naked; sheltering the homeless; visiting the sick; ransoming the captive; burying the dead. The spiritual works of mercy are: instructing the ignorant; counselling the doubtful; admonishing sinners, bearing wrongs patiently; forgiving offences willingly; comforting the afflicted; praying for the living and the dead.
The Archbishop concluded by re-echoing the words of the Holy Father at his launching that the time is ripe for the message of mercy, “I am convinced that the whole Church - which has much need of mercy, because we are sinners - will find in this jubilee the joy to rediscover and render fruitful the mercy of God, with which we are all called to give consolation to every man and woman of our time,”
After the launching, there was a weekly Catholic half-hour programme on the Garden City Radio FM Station, a local radio station with a very wide coverage, to explain Catholics and non-Catholics alike, within the whole Region, the meaning of this Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy and how each individual is called to practise the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
Visit to the Prisons
Saturday December 26, 2015, in order to underline the great forms of suffering, of marginalization and poverty, which are present in society, combined above all, with a strong solidarity on the part of many people who dedicate their time and efforts to consoling (the suffering) and offering them daily support, there was a diocesan outreach programme to the prisoners. The faithful together with the Archbishop and the two Emeriti Archbishops of Kumasi Archdiocese visited all the three (3) prisons in Kumasi and celebrated the Holy Mass with the prisoners and their officials. The Mass at the Kumasi Central Prisons was led by the Kumasi and Nhinahin Deaneries and presided over by Most Rev. Gabriel Justice Yaw Anokye, Catholic Archbishop of Kumasi; Amanfrom Prisons’ visitation was led by Suntreso, Offinso and Suame Deaneries and presided over by Most Rev. Peter Kwasi Sarpong, Emeritus Archbishop of Kumasi. Finally the Mass at Manhyia Prisons was presided over by second Emeritus, Most Rev. Thomas Kwaku Mensah while Asawase and Amakom Deaneries organised the activities. The faithful presented various gifts of great valour, food items and many needful things.
Sunday December 27, 2015 – during the feast of the Holy family, Catholic family value, agape festival held were in all parishes. Parishioners brought different dishes of Ghanaian cuisine such as fufuo, ampesi, tuosafi, abeteε, etc shared among the participants to the joyful fill of all present.
During the Jubilee Year, the Archdiocese of Kumasi held three (3) Faith Rallies, the first Faith Rally was from January 14 to January 16, the second from April 7 to April 9 and the third before the climax of the Jubilee Year was from November 16 to November 18. The theme for these Faith Rallies centred on God’s mercy and forgiveness. All the three Rallies were held at the forecourt of the Cathedral Basilica – Kumasi and were very well attended, between three thousand (3000) and four (400) thousand faithful at each rally. The fundamentals of the Catholic faith were shared and various ways to demonstrate the mercy of God faith were also substantially learnt. At least at the Cathedral Basilica, it was evident that attendance at mass and penance started increasing.
Parish Level Celebration
On parish level, to support the poor and the needy, there were various forms of charity programmes and appeals both in cash and in kind. The various welfare committees identified the aged, the poor, the marginalised, and widows in the communities; they distributed the items collected to the less privileged. This sort of sharing brought a lot of joy to the communities and new converts were made.
The Celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation
The sacrament of penance was really highlighted upon in this Jubilee year. Our Deans (Vicars Forane) were particular active as “extraordinary confessors”. The faithful were encouraged to confess their sins and have a purpose of amendment in order to receive from God, through the absolution given, forgiveness of sins they have committed after baptism. At the same time, the faithful felt reconciled with the Church, which by sinning, they have wounded.
The Archbishop gave this encouragement during the Mass of the official launching. Priests and pastors also hammered on this same issue and during the three (3) Faith Rallies, priests were made available to listen to the confession of all who needed the sacrament.
In addition to this, on the evening of the eve of the climax, 19 November, 2016, after the pastoral council meeting, all priests in the Archdiocese exchanged parishes to listen to confessions of the faithful. It was of such a great success and many faithful freely availed themselves of this wonderful sacrament.
Diocesan Pastoral Council Meeting
Saturday 19 November 2016 – on the eve of the conclusion of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, the Archdiocese held a Pastoral Council Meeting whereby all parish priests with three representatives (the Parish Chair, the Financial Secretary and the Catechist) from all Parishes, Rectorates and Chaplaincies met to discuss serious pastoral issues including a Holistic Archdioceses Pastoral Plan (HAPP) with the Archbishop and the Curia. Reports from the various institutions and all diocesan offices were given on how the pastoral services were progressing and how the Jubilee Year was celebrated at the parish level. The reports given shall to influence the 2016-2017 the pastoral action plan which is part of our overall Strategic Plan Initiative (SPI) for the Archdiocese.
Climax Sunday, 20 November, 2016
The Catholic Archdiocese of Kumasi could not climax the Year of Mercy on the 13 December as requested, due to earlier National and Pastoral commitments of the Archbishop. The Archdiocese concluded the Jubilee Year of Mercy in a grand style on Sunday, 20November, 2016, with the Solemnity of Christ the Universal King. After the Eucharist celebration presided over by the most Rev. Gabriel Justice Yaw Anokye at the St. Peter Cathedral Basilica, the Archbishop officially closed “Holy Door” of the Cathedral Basilica signifying the closure of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. The whole Archdiocese converged at the Cathedral for this climax.
After the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, the Body of Christ placed in the Monstrance, was carried by the Archbishop and priests in a palanquin through the principal streets of Kumasi. The number of faithful was too big to count but could be estimated to be around Ten Thousand (10,000) people (see pictures attached). All the faithful from small and big parishes and institutes were present and benefited from the abundant blessings bestowed by the Year of Mercy.
Holy Week is the week preceding Easter and the final week of Lent. Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday and ends with Holy Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday. Holy Week includes Holy Thursday (also known as Maundy Thursday) and Good Friday, which, together with Holy Saturday, are known as the Triduum. Before the revision of the liturgical calendar in 1969, Holy Week was the second week of Passiontide; in the current calendar, Passiontide is synonymous with Holy Week.