Embracing the wisdom of the adage “You’ve got to crawl before you walk,” the Oblate Mission of Ghana has taken flight.  Declared an official Oblate Mission on May 13, 2021, by the Superior General in Council, the First Oblates arrived in the village of Agbenoxoè, Ho, Ghana, on March 21, 2022.

Pilgrims of Hope in Communion

In this humble village of farmers and fishermen, where opportunities are scarce and development is limited, the Oblates diligently work with the local people to bring hope to the region.  The presence of vibrant young residents needs to be improved in Agbenoxoè, as most young adults attend boarding schools in Kpando and Ho. Thus, the Oblate mission truly embodies the theme of the 37th General Chapter: “Pilgrims of Hope in Communion.”

Intercultural apostolic community

The Oblates form an intercultural apostolic community with four members from different countries. Together, they strive to make a difference. The members are Br. Rafal DABKOWSKI, the bursar and assistant rector of the shrine, (he is currently back home in Poland for a while); Fr. Hycaninth NWANERI, the superior and parish priest; Fr. Daniel MANE, the rector of the shrine; and Fr. Jean Baptiste, assistant parish priest and director of Youth Ministry.

Hycaninth (Nigeria) Jean Baptists (Togo), Daniel (Guinea Conakry)

Vibrant Marian Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes

The Agbenoxoè mission station, comprising an open church building, a missionary house, and a Marian shrine, is a bustling hub of activity.  The Oblate mission centres around the vibrant Marian Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes. With its towering eight-meter statue of Our Lady of Lourdes, this sacred place draws children and adults from the village and beyond. This oasis is nestled among nature and protected by a mountain. The shrine is a place of tranquility, with a stream of water that feeds Lake Wolta, adding to the prayerful atmosphere.  The Oblates aim to build upon the spiritual foundation of the shrine, transforming it into a beacon of faith, hope, and love for the region.

Evangelizing the poor

But the Oblate mission goes beyond the shrine. They also serve in the parish and support the outstations. These Oblates are dedicated to evangelizing the poor!  They have learned the local Ewe language and improved their English to nourish their relationship with the local community.  As the Mission of Ghana begins its journey, it answers the divine call to “preach the gospel to all creation (Mk 16:5).” This sacred endeavor breathes life into the shrine, offering, for example, the sacrament of reconciliation as a means to experience God’s mercy and forgiveness.

Fishermen’s boat on the shores of Lake Wolta

Spreading the Gospel through Marian shrine

The Oblate Mission of Ghana is poised to make a lasting impact, spreading hope and transforming lives in Christ. The Oblates in Agbenoxoè are here to impact the lives of the poor, foster peace, and strengthen our relationship with the Creator. With the guidance of Mary, we can overcome social challenges and transform lives.  As Oblates, spreading the gospel through Marian shrines has always been a part of our Charism.

Mary, Mother of the Missions, pray for us!

In the spirit of Mission Month, observed in October, it is worth noting that the Central Government of the Congregation hopes the mission in Ghana could pave the way for future missionary endeavors.  This highlights Mary’s role as the Mother of the Mission.
Let us support this new Oblate mission on the periphery and embrace hope together.  Mary, Mother of the Missions, pray for us!

Fr. Kapena SHIMBOME, OMI, is a General Councillor for Africa-Madagascar Region, he is currently visiting the Oblate Mission in Ghana.