HOMILY OF THE JOINT CELEBRATION
OF THE GOLDEN JUBILEE OF MSGR P. AGBENU & FR. S. K. BATSA
AND THE SILVER JUBILEE OF FR. F. AGYEMAN, FR. J. K. EGBLEWOGBE & FR. M. K. AMUZU
AT THE HOLY SPIRIT CATHEDRAL, ON WEDNESDAY 27TH JULY 2022
READINGS: 1 Chronicles 17:16-20; 1 Corinthians 1:26-30 & John 15:5-17
0.1 INTRODUCTION & CONGRATULATIONS
Dear Msgr. P. Agbenu, V. Rev. Frs. S. K. Batsa, F. Agyeman, J. K. Egblewogbe and M. K. Amuzu, I wish on the behalf of our Archbishop, Most Rev. John B. Kwofie, the priests, religious and laity of the Archdiocese, as well as your respective families, to congratulate you as you jointly celebrate your golden and silver jubilees of priestly ordination. As we say “ayekoo” (well done) to you for your many years of dedication and selfless ministry, we join you to thank God for His call and for enabling you to touch countless souls.
- Thanksgiving to God
- Pastoral Ministry and Apostolates of the Jubilarians
- Chosen by God, Though Unworthy
- Sharing in Christ’s Priesthood
- After Silver and Golden Jubilees
1.0 THANKSGIVING TO GOD
Beloved in Christ, according to Gen. 25:7-8, the lifespan of Abraham was 175 years. Now, cumulatively, our jubilarians are celebrating 175 [ = (50 X 2) + (25 X 3)] years of priestly life and ministry! No wonder then that, as Abraham has become a blessing to many nations and generations, so our jubilarians have become blessings to countless souls.
We thank God for choosing and using our five brothers/fathers as instruments to touch countless souls through the preaching of His Word, the administration of the Sacraments, as well as other forms of priestly ministry.
We also thank God for choosing them as pioneer priests from their respective parishes: Fr. Batsa was the first Krobo to be ordained a Catholic priest; Msgr Agbenu is the first priest from St. Kizito Parish, Nima; Fr. Egblewogbe is the first priest from Queen of Peace Parish, Madina; and the twins Fr. Amuzu and Fr. Agyeman are the first priests from the twin parish of Sts. John Fisher & Thomas More Church, Achimota.
We are indeed most grateful to God for His graces and mercies for our five brothers/fathers in the past decades.
2.0 PASTORAL MINISTRY AND APOSTOLATES OF THE JUBILARIANS
Our five jubilarians have ministered in parishes, schools, offices, etc. You may refer to the programme brochure for summaries of their respective ministries or apostolates. Here permit me to make some analysis. Whereas the golden jubilarians focused more on institutional apostolates while in active service, the silver jubilarians have ministered mainly in parishes. Fr. Batsa, for instance, spent 30 years (of his 42 years of active ministry) in school apostolate, during which he was the headmaster of St. Thomas Aquinas SHS for 20 years. He was a good administrator and leader. Msgr. Agbenu, in turn, spent 25 years (of his 46 years of active ministry) as the Archdiocesan Chancellor and Archbishop’s Secretary. He could stay that long in the twin offices because he was a good custodian of confidential matters.
The silver jubilarians who have focused mainly on parish work are zealous pastors and missionaries. Fr. Egblewogbe, for instance, is the only jubilarian to have ministered in all the six (6) original deaneries of the Archdiocese. He willingly accepts appointments to places where others see as difficult territories.
Fr. Agyeman is also a passionate missionary who has served both in the Archdiocese and in the USA. Like his twin brother, Fr. Amuzu is a passionate missionary who is willing to serve communities outside our boarders. He is currently ministering in Canada.
3.0 CHOSEN BY GOD, THOUGH UNWORTHY
Our jubilarians are deeply conscious of the fact that if in the past 25 or 50 years, they have touched many souls in the parishes, schools, offices, etc., the glory belongs to God; for He has chosen them, even though they feel unworthy. Thus, they chose a first reading in which, King David gratefully and humbly attributed his achievements to God: “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? … And what more can David say to you for honoring your servant? … You [Yourself] have done all these great deeds …” (1 Chron. 17:16,18,19; cf. Mary’s Magnificat). David made this pronouncement conscious of the fact that his election as king of Israel was entirely due to the gratuitous choice of God and not by his merits. In the first place, he was not of the royal family of predecessor, King Saul. Secondly, when Samuel was to anoint a son of Jesse as king, David was not their first choice.
So, beloved, like David, our vocations originate from God’s gratuitous choice. This is emphasized by our Lord Jesus Christ in the gospel reading: “You did not choose me, but I chose you” (John 15:16). Our calling by God, as the prophet Jeremiah realized long ago, pre-dates our birth (cf. Jer. 1:1-5). That is, God chose us when we had no CVs or track records to qualify us.
Furthermore, even after our birth, we were still unworthy of God’s call. St. Paul makes this point loud and clear: “Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. … God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to abolish things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God” (1 Cor. 1:26, 28-29).
Let us, therefore, humbly see our priestly and religious vocations as undeserved honour to serve; and always give God the glory (cf. 1 Cor. 1:31)!
4.0 SHARING IN CHRIST’S PRIESTHOOD
Our jubilarians chose a gospel reading (cf. John 15:5-17) from the event of the Last Supper, during which Christ our High Priest instituted the ministerial priesthood. Interestingly, in this passage of the vine and the branches, we find a vivid illustration of how we share in the Christ’s unique High Priesthood. That is, on the one hand, just as the branches cannot bear fruit without the vine (cf. John 15:5), so there is no ministerial priesthood without the High Priesthood of Christ, the true vine.
On the other hand, as branches bear fruit when they are connected with the vine (cf. John 15:5), so our priesthood exists and flourishes only in the unique Priesthood of Christ.
Therefore, beloved, let us always remain connected with Christ. How? through faith, prayer, holiness, love, etc., so that our priesthood will much fruit. Firstly, we will bear fruit by bringing many souls (including ours) to the Father, through Christ. Secondly, by bringing the joys and sorrows, the thanksgivings and petitions, the worship and repentance of God’s people to Him through Christ.
5.0 AFTER SILVER AND GOLDEN JUBILEES
- AFTER SILVER JUBILEE
Dear Frs. Agyeman, Amuzu and Egblewogbe, you celebrate 25 years each: (25 x3 =) 75 years = age of Abraham when God called him. This suggests a few points for your consideration:
- As Abraham journeyed by faith when the Lord called Him, so my brothers, walk more by faith than by sight in the years ahead
- As Abraham had to sacrifice the land of his ancestors and respond to God’s call, so my brothers, be prepared to embraced more sacrifices ahead of you
- As Abraham had to cope with the challenge of waiting for 25 years for God’s promise to be fulfilled, so my brothers, be patiently steadfast in your vocation in the midst of the challenges you may encounter
- AFTER GOLDEN JUBILEE
Dear Msgr Agbenu and Headmaster Fr. Batsa, together you celebrate 100 (= 50 x2) years = age of Abraham when God’s promise of the gift of son (Isaac) by Sarah was fulfilled. This suggests that:
- You should look back and find fulfilment in your life spent in the service of the Lord. Where there were some mistakes trust in God’s mercy, as He was merciful when Abraham had Ishmael.
- As Abraham after 100 years of age was asked to sacrifice Isaac, so you may experience some challenges in your old age, e.g., health challenges associated with aging, etc.
- As Abraham was a great coach in matters of faith to his son and servants, so as much as your health will permit, consciously use your rich experiences to coach younger priests, seminarians and the laity.
Beloved, let me now conclude by summing up:
- We have gathered to join our jubilarians to give thanks to God
- We have highlighted their pastoral ministry and apostolates
- We have been reminded that, though unworthy, God has chosen us
- Like fruitful branches on the vine, our priesthood exists and flourishes only in Christ’s Priesthood
- In the light of the life of Abraham, a few points have been suggested to the jubilarians regarding life after their jubilees
Once again, Msgr. Agbenu, Fr. Batsa, Fr. Amuzu, Fr. Egblewogbe and Fr. Agyeman, our Archbishop and all of us gathered here, wish you all happy celebrations of your jubilees! Congratulations!
(By Fr. John K. Louis)