Stella Maris Parish
14 St Michael Avenue
Canada, B3P 1M5
GRATITUDE AND GREETINGS
Dear Brothers and Sisters, in the name of Our Lord and savior Jesus Christ, I bring you greetings from Wa, in the Upper West Region of the Republic of Ghana. I bring you greetings from Bishop Richard Baawobr and the entire Wa Diocesan Family. My family and the Fian community salute you and express their deepest sentiments of gratitude to you all for the love and support you gave me for the three years I spent with you in Halifax.
THE JOURNEY HOME
Three weeks ago I was airborne to Ghana. The stories to be told are many but they all become sweet memories whenever I recall your love, you generosity and care just before my departure. After almost 21 hours of flight I had to spend extra 15 hours to arrive in Wa, on Saturday 27 February 2021. The result of this is that I developed swollen feet, something I experienced for the first time in my life. The discomfort of self isolation to be sure I am not a threat to the teaming family members trooping to savor the welcome spirit of ‘The Oldman’ was simply very strange to my way of doing things. As St Paul said in I Thessalonians 5:16-18, we must “give thanks in all circumstances”. I now have a very tall itinerary to execute till I leave for my new temporary assignment in Tumu.
INTERVIEW FOR APPOINTMENT
On 11th March 2021 at 1100hrs, I attended Bishop Richard Baawobr’s interview for debriefing. It was a joyful encounter after three years and some more. We went through the great life stories and memories of Stella Maris, Halifax-Yarmouth Archdiocese and Canada as a whole. Oh my dear, how I miss the snow and the extreme cold, with all the joyful brothers and sisters “from another country”, CANADA. I conveyed greetings from each member of Stella Maris Parish, Halifax, to Bishop Richard. I also expressed your condolences for the loss of two priests within the week I arrived.
THE TASK AHEAD
Bishop Richard has tasked me to do relieving duties in the Tumu Parish, my former quasi domicile when I was in the Seminary. The Parish Priest is recovering from ill health and has been granted sick leave. I will be there to support and supervise two young priests left alone in the Parish. It will be a great home-coming for me. I have to revise the Sisaala language which I have not spoken for thirty four years.
GRATITUDE FOR SUPPORT
My dear family of God, Stella Maris Parish! The expression “thank you” does not really convey my inner most feeling of gratitude to each and every one of you for who and what you have been to me, my family, my village and my Diocese. However due to human limitations, that seem to be the only word very close to the reality of my situation. So when I say “THANK YOU”, I mean same from the very depth of my being. The expression goes beyond my very self to convey same sentiments from my family and Diocese to you and all.
At my last Sunday Mass with you I verbally said thanks to you all. May I place on record my thanks to the following:
Archdiocesan Administration: Most Rev Brian Dunn, Most Rev Anthony Mancini (Archbishop Emeritus) and Staff of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center.
Very Rev Fr Jose, Pastor of Stella Maris Parish
PAST PASTORS: Very Rev Fr Alfred Ashun and Very Rev Fr Raymand
Brother Marc Simard, Deacon Dan Daley
Greg Aikens, Parish Life Coordinator
Parish Leadership Team
Stella Maris Parish Administration: Susan, Paula, Alicia, Paul
Uncle Fr Duncan MacMaster
The sisters of Eucharistic Heart of Jesus
The entire membership of Stella Maris: St Peter, St Paul, St John the Baptist and St Michael.
Knights of Columbus
Catholic Women’s league
All Ministries of service in the Parish
All individuals, men, women and children
The African Community of Stella Maris parish and Chief Okwese
Dr. Mark & Abigail Amegadzi
Dr. Mary Owusu and friends, Sherry and Celine
Prof Francis Boabang and Ghanaian community
Prof Yasin Sankar
SPECIAL ACTS OF KINDNESS TO ME AND FAMILY
As part of the love you showed me, especially in my last days in Stella Maris, that beautiful home I cannot let go off my mind, there was an outpouring of love for me in so many ways.
a. Envelopes: I cannot count the hundreds of cards with sweet and unforgettable words for me. I have to use them as testimonies at the entrance to Heaven.
b. Donations of all kinds, including cash and souvenirs from so many of you came to me and I carry each in my heart to my hometown, and will tell each story in some concrete way that will keep your memories for long.
c. Mass Vestments and Items: I am especially thankful to the Pastor and Administration for generously offering me Mass Vestments and Vessels for the needy churches in my Parish and other places. You further went out of your way to help with payment for shipment of these items to Ghana. As I write the items have arrived and I have people standing by to pay the duty and clear them for me.
d. Donation of Computers: For the second time you have supported my project to supply material to facilitate access to Information Communication Technology (ICT) in the Fian Schools. These have also been shipped and hopefully will arrive in Tema-Accra in the next three weeks. Again you assisted me to pay for their shipment. By this singular gesture you not only show me love but you extended your kindness to my people. I will update you on events when the donation is done. I wish to specially thank Michael Coughlan and his team
for this initiative. Michael has further signaled to me that there are more computers for shipment. I have authorized Bro Keith to arrange to bring them in totes to the shippers in Truro. They will give me the bill for shipment. I will again say I am very grateful for the initiative and will ensure you get feedback on their use.
e. Donation of Hospital Items: let me put on record that some individuals and Parishioners have generously donated wheel chairs, walkers and others items for my village clinic. Betty Grey and family, Keith Hollett and Family, Celine, Dr. Mary Sowa and Sherry Smith, and many others.
f. Welfare Act of kindness: I cannot write these words without mentioning your special support for me when you generously approved for Mama Betty to provide for me. Cooking had never been in my vocabulary and so when I arrived in Halifax I realized how limited I was regarding kitchen art. With your support for Betty I ate like a “Tengdaana” (Chief Priest), because she gave me original Afro-Canadian treat all the time. As I thank you extend same to her.
g. In the same vain I want to use this chance to place on record the immense guidance and assistance Keith Hollett and family gave me to get used to basic way of life in Canada. I know it is as a result of their love for Stella Maris Parish and the Church as a whole that gave them the voluntary obligation to keep me in the best ways to render service to the church.
h. Marsha Coughlan and team: One of the most touching first time experience I had on arrival in Halifax was when Marsha and some others mobilized themselves and clothed me up for the Winter. Innocent Ghanaian arrived unprepared for the cold weather and they quickly spotted my ignorance and helped me out. I have treasured this act of kindness and still do till date. Please tell her I say thanks and may God bless everyone.
i. Marsha, Margo and All Sacristans: I am placing this on record to show how much the Sacristans of all the communities impacted my life. Their attention to details by being the first to come to church and the last to leave, setting up of the correct and appropriate liturgical items was so exemplary and I wish to train my sacristans using the same Marsha-Margo standards.
j. PENSION WATER PROJECT: Since my retirement from the Ghana Armed Forces in 2016 I have embarked on a Water project that will provide drinking water free of charge to my community. You have supported me in so many ways to carry it out. I wish to place on record the big contributions of Uncle Fr Duncan, Angela Gerald, Betty Grey, Keith Hollett and the Parish as whole.
k. The Uncle Fr Duncan factor: If ever I had the confidence in Canada then Uncle did so much to impact my life. I know he did everything for love of Stella Maris Parish. His love for the Parish can be seen by his constant visits to me to ensure I lacked nothing to function. Through you, I wish to thank him and his family for all their support.
l. Fr Jose and Greg: My dearest brothers and friends, words cannot convey what I feel about your immense support and show of love for me at every moment of my life in Halifax and Stella Maris Parish. I pray that the Lord continues to guide the two of you with wisdom, dedication, love and zeal to carry out you responsibilities for the unity and growth of the Parish.
m. The Nursing Homes Ministries Team: I also wish to place on record the teams who helped me to render services to these Homes. Even at odd hours Marion Marriott was always ready to assist me to perform anointing and visitations. To all of them I say thanks. They helped me to reach out to the vulnerable bringing them the needed reassurance and hope.
n. Liturgical 'Reverend Sister': During the lockdown, Very Rev Fr Jose approved the online services to keep the Parish connected. Various ways to do so effectively were employed. The passion and dedication of Marie-Claire and team, with Iyona providing ‘covering fire’, brought our celebrations close to reality. Their commitment to serve the community taught me a lot. I am missing the post-Mass debrief and I am still anticipating the day Loretta and Elaine will play the organ and do the singing. God bless you all.
o. The ‘youngest’ Mass Servers of Stella Maris: I also wish to place on record the acceptance by Mary and Dorothy to learn and service Mass. I still picture Dan Dempsey, Sharon, Isaac, Tim, Bob, Milton and the young Mass Servers within the Parish. They have gave me a big lesson that when it comes to serving the community age is not a limitation. I will surely initiate a seniors Mass Servers team in my next station.
p. The Others: there are so many beautiful things in my mind and I wish to state that everyone of them will remain in my heart for long.
q. NO PERFECTION: The saying that “no man is perfect” holds true for me. While I was with you I did things as a human being and not an angel. I might have not met the full expectations of all. I might have even directly or indirectly caused some people to be upset. I might have offended some people. I take full responsibility for my failings and I sincerely apologize and ask for forgiveness. On my part every encounter with everyone, bitter or sweet, has the same divine taste for a better tomorrow for me. Indeed there was never an iota of bitter experience. My years of stay with you was a period when I basked in love given by a family I will cherish for long.
As I conclude this short script to you I pray that the Lord God protect you all in these trying times. May Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be with you on your missionary journeys. I will report to my temporary appointment in Tumu on 26th March 2021.
I wish you a very HAPPY EASTER.
Fr David Bangsiibu
Ghana Phone Number +233243842430