His Holiness Pope Francis appointed Reverend Father John Yaw Afoakwah as the new Bishop of the Diocese of Obuasi, Ghana in November 2014, just prior to the Thanksgiving holiday.
Father Afoakwah, a former parochial vicar of Blessed Trinity Parish and Saint Patrick’s Parish group of churches in Tioga County, New York, highly regarded among parishioners, was on pastoral assignment here from September 2007 until December 2011 as assigned by the Diocese of Rochester, N.Y.
An acceptance speech by Bishop Afoakwah on the Obuasi Diocese website states, “I am greatly humbled and yet highly honored to be chosen by the Holy Father, and for the trust and confidence he has in me for this noble and demanding office of a Bishop in the Holy Roman Catholic Church. I never considered myself a candidate for this high office in the church with its great responsibilities.”
During his four years in Tioga County, Father Afoakwah had three main goals in mind, to pastorally serve the parish to the best of his ability, to save and purchase funds for a good car in order to accomplish more effective pastoral work in Ghana, and to pursue a Master’s program in education in hopes of securing a school principal position when he returned to Ghana.
According to the December 2011 issue of the Blessed Trinity and Saint Patrick Parish newsletter, Bishop Afoakwah wrote in his goodbye letter that he achieved those goals. In May 2010 he earned his graduate degree in education from Le Moyne College in Syracuse, N.Y. and purchased a used car, which was shipped to his home in Ghana.
When Father Afoakwah left the United States, he was assigned to a Church in the village of Bodwesango, which he described about the size of Newark Valley. In addition to his pastoral duties there, he taught in the public high school and also managed the Diocesan office.
In regard to his third goal, to serve the parishioners in Tioga County, he wrote that he left that final review to them directly.
Lisa Grant, a parishioner and secretary at St. Patrick’s Parish in Owego, N.Y., worked with Father Ofoakwah and said, “I loved his enthusiasm and exuberance for everything, and he preached with excitement.” Grant also shared a story about a car accident Father Afoakwah had one winter on icy roads traveling from St. John’s in Newark Valley to St. James in Waverly, where he suffered a broken leg and a cracked rib.
“His leg was repaired with a rod and metal pins, said Grant, and he was so amazed at the doctor’s care; he even framed his before and after x-rays.”
Carrie Martin, a parishioner at St. Margaret Mary’s in Apalachin, N.Y., shared, “We loved Father Afoakwah and are not surprised with his recent promotion to Bishop. When we talked to him, you knew you were in the presence of God, you could see it in his eyes and smile.”
Martin added that Father Afoakwah’s homilies are very memorable. She explained, “He shared how people in Africa worshipped by using their voices to pray. He taught us many powerful hymns.”
Martin said she still finds herself humming and singing the hymns today.
For more information about the area where the newly appointed Bishop Afoakwah will be serving, visit http://obuasidiocese.com.