l o a d i n g



The history of the Archdiocese of Cape Coast is, to a large extent, that also of the Church in the Gold Coast, later Ghana. The late 19th century saw the creation of the Apostolic Prefecture of the Gold Coast, caused in part by the promptings of individuals like Sir James Marshall. Beginning in 1880, the Prefecture was under the care of French S.M.A. priests, led locally by Fr Auguste Moreau. In trying to establish the mission in the Gold Coast, he and his companions had to struggle with many issues, including lack of funds and equipment, and severe health conditions which took a deadly toll on them. Trekking from one corner of the then Gold Coast to the other, they introduced themselves to potential Catholics in Kumasi, Keta, Accra and elsewhere. They also established missions in Elmina, Axim and Cape Coast in those early years. In 1886, while on his way to France for healing, Fr. Moreau died near Axim and was buried at sea.

At the turn of the 20th century, beginning in 1901, the Apostolic Prefecture of the Gold Coast was raised into an Apostolic Vicariate, with Bishop Maximillian Albert (1901–1903) serving as the first Apostolic-Vicar. Other Apostolic-Vicars between 1901 to 1950 were Bishop Isidore Klaus (1904-1905), Bishop Ignatius Hummel (1906-1924), Bishop Ernest Hauger (1925-1932) and Bishop William T. Porter (1933-1960). Within this period, Kumasi became an Apostolic Vicariate (1933), with Bishop Paulissen serving as the first Apostolic-Vicar. The Apostolic Prefecture of Navrongo, established in 1926, became an Apostolic Vicariate in 1933, with Bishop Morin serving as Apostolic-Vicar. Also, during this period, the Apostolic Prefecture of Accra, established in 1943, became an Apostolic Vicariate with Bishop Adolf Noser serving as Apostolic-Vicar.

In April 1950, Pope Pius XII elevated the Apostolic Vicariate of the Gold Coast into an Ecclesiastical Province, with Cape Coast Vicariate, the mother Vicariate, becoming a Metropolitan Archdiocese. In all of Africa, only Nigeria and Sierra Leone enjoyed being elevated as Ecclesiastical Provinces. With that elevation, Bishop William T. Porter became an Archbishop and Bishops Adolf Noser (Accra), Hubert Joseph Paulissen (Kumasi), Gerard Betrand (Tamale) and Joseph Gerard Holland (Keta) became bishops of their respective Dioceses.

1950 also saw the First Eucharistic Congress take place, in Kumasi. It was so successful that the international observers were full of praise for the discipline and piety they witnessed. Even Pope Pius XII referred to its success in a Papal Bull, Evangelii Praecones.

The 1950’s witnessed many momentous events, including the installation of Queen Elizabeth II, celebration of a Marian Year (1954), Independence of Ghana (1957), the creation of the Diocese of Tamale from the Diocese of Navrongo, and the consecration of Msgr. John K. Amissah as Auxiliary Bishop of Cape Coast (1957). Also of moment were the opening of St. Peter’s Major Seminary at Pedu and the creation of the Diocese of Wa. The decade also saw the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in Qumran, as well as the death of Pope Pius XII and the election of Pope John XXIII in 1958.

The 1960’s saw the rise of indigenous bishops: Most Rev. John K. Amissah would take over as the Metropolitan Archbishop of Cape Coast (1960); Most Rev. Peter P. Dery, would be consecrated as Bishop of Wa (1960), and Bishop Joseph A. Essuah would replace the bishop of Kumasi (1970). In 1962, the Bishops of Ghana were visited by a Cardinal for the first time. The visitor, Cardinal Montini, would, a year later, become Pope Paul VI.

The decade became very important for the Church when Pope John XXIII opened the Vatican Council in late 1962. Changes in Liturgy, especially, would engage local churches all over the world. The death of Pope John XXIII and election of Pope Paul VI took place early in the decade. Pope Paul reopened the Vatican Council in which all our local Hierarchy participated. Much of the decade was given to discussion and implementation of the Council policies.

The 1970’s saw the creation of more dioceses and the consecration of more indigenous clergy to take over as bishops. In 1970, the new Diocese of Sekondi-Takoradi was carved out of the Archdiocese of Cape Coast. Bishop Joseph A. Essuah of Kumasi Diocese was transferred there to become its new Bishop. Rev. Fr. Peter Akwasi Sarpong, Rector of St. Peter’s Senior Seminary, was consecrated Bishop for the Diocese of Kumasi. In 1976, Bishop Francis Lodonu was consecrated to head the new Keta-Ho Diocese.

In 1976, the Secretary Generals of Episcopal Conferences of Gambia – Sierra Leone; Liberia – Ghana; and Nigeria, met in Accra to draw up a draft constitution for the Episcopal Conferences of Anglophone West Africa (AECAWA). In 1980, the Church in Ghana celebrated her centenary. Pope John Paul II visited the Ghana Church on the occasion.

The Ghana Church has seen four Jubilees: 1900, 1950, 1975 and 2000. The Jubilee years of 1975 and 2000 were, particularly, well celebrated by the local Church. There are preparations going on now for the next Jubilee, to be held in 2025. The year will, also, mark the Diamond Jubilee of the Archdiocese of Cape Coast. The Archdiocese has also seen five Archbishops since its elevation as an Archdiocese: Archbishop William T. Porter (1950 – 1960); Archbishop John K. Amissah (1960 – 1991); His Eminence Peter Cardinal Turkson (1993 – 2003?); Archbishop Matthias K. Nketsiah (2003 – 2018) and Archbishop Charles Gabriel Palmer Buckle (2018 – present).

The Church in Ghana has grown in the number of clergy and religious, institutions, organizations, societies, and general membership. It has also grown in its pastoral and social roles.

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