Shia Immaculate Heart Of Mary Parish Golden Jubilee Celebration

Our Lord Bishop, Reverend Fathers and Sisters, Togbewo and Mamawo, Distinguished Invited Guests, Ladies and Gentleman: I am happy to be among you today. The fact that we have traveled from far and near to part of this celebration suggests that we attach a lot of importance to the church, and to the progress it has made over the past fifty years.

But perhaps more importantly our coming together is in recognition of the need for us to lend our support to our Shia brothers and sisters, so that they can build an even stronger church.  And by this, we seem to recognize that our fortunes are inextricably linked.

Quite clearly therefore, we are united by our shared religious beliefs.  This unity, I believe has been the foundation that has enabled the church not only to survive, but to thrive, over the years.  This same oneness is vital for the future of the church.

We are here to commemorate a unique moment, the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of SIHMP. Fifty years ago, this beautiful chapel was not here. Maybe the founding fathers and mothers of this parish could not imagine what the outcome of their toils would be.  In those days when there were no vehicles they walked several miles in pursuit of their dreams.

We are gathered here, thanks to the foresight of these great men and women, and the Church they served.  We owe a debt of gratitude to all the departed Faithful, Bishop Konings, Head Teacher Sumah, Madam Kwami and Rev Fathers Tukker and Van Baer. We also are indebted to Rev Fathers Amegadzi and Mawusi, and to our father the Most Rev Bishop Lodonu.  Their hard work should be emulated by all who aspire to lead the church.

The church has over the years become an integral part of Shia. In addition to educating its sons and daughters, it has given enthusiastic support to its cultural activities and has produced reverend fathers and sisters of distinction.

Like our predecessors, we cannot imagine what the church building will look like fifty years from now. Our view of the road ahead is no better than the view in 1957. But at moments like this, we serve ourselves well by taking a look at, not only where we are, but where we are headed. If the parish would continue to grow at the rate it did, then we should be laying the foundations today.

I also want to thank the Planning Committee for putting together a comprehensive commemorative programme and for giving me the very honourable role of special guest at this event.

I am particularly happy that the role of the chiefs in the founding and the development of the church in Shia has been warmly acknowledged, and would like to ask the church to also be more tolerant and accommodating of our very harmless customs and traditions.

I am also happy about the theme for this celebration, Save yourselves from this corrupt generation (Acts 2:40). In another version of the bible, it was presented as, Save yourselves from the punishment coming on this wicked people.

I believe that the Church’s teachings of love, tolerance and respect for one another are quite central to this theme. These teachings are constantly threatened by, among others, tribalism, selfishness and greed. Turning away from sin requires a complete change in our attitudes and way of life.

We all have a duty to support the church so that it can continue to be an important part of our lives; so that it can continue to teach us; so that it can continue to inspire us; so that it can continue to give us hope; and so that it can continue to hold us together.

We cannot support the church unless we can support ourselves. It requires that we work hard. We must take our work more seriously so that we can be in the position to support the church and our communities. Praying for divine intervention does not assure success.

We should become more responsible.  We should accept the fact that we are responsible for our future, and for what our region becomes.  Even some of us Christians blame our failures on the 'old witch'.

We should avoid being overly dependent on others.  Dependency has become a cultural problem - while the individual is looking up to one relative or the other, various groups are looking up to government, itself looking up to donor support.

We need to appreciate and take pride in what God has given us our land, our language, etc. It is by the Will of God that one is who he is.  Thus, ignorance is the only reason why some people would not like themselves, who they are, and their language.

We need to take education more seriously.  Let us invest in the education of our children so they can be prepared enough to succeed in life.  Let us teach them to be honest so that they can become the responsible future leaders that the region needs.

We need to eschew selfishness and to appreciate that altruism is the best form of egoism.  This is consistent with the biblical teaching, 'Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you'.  So let us willingly give back to our communities instead of always seeking to receive.  As has been said, 'The value of a man should be measured not by what he is able to receive but by what he is able to give.'

When we are called upon to contribute financially towards the development of our areas, even the most endowed feign poverty, while others invent the most ridiculous excuses.  If you pretend to be poor, you are very unlikely to attain your full potential financially because you scare people away from yourself.  This is why the bible implies that the rich will get richer and the poor poorer.

I doubt that there is any one among us here who is happy about the fact that our region remains one of the least developed.  I doubt that any one of us here is happy about the fact that poverty, ignorance and disease remain the lot of the majority of our compatriots.

Our collective efforts will determine the kind of future we create for our people.  This is why it is important that we constantly question our own commitment and contribution to development in the communities that we call our homes.

I think the Volta Region is blessed. We have a fair share of natural resources and more than our fair share of the most important resource the human resource.  What we have lacked is the commitment of our people, particularly the most successful, to the cause of our ancestral home.

We should all be prepared to account for our stewardship.  We should not take what does not belong to us because when we do that we shall be destroying the future of our communities. As I have said before, corrupt officials are like termites at the woodwork they eat at the very foundation of our progress. Let us be bold enough to expose the bad ones among us.  And let us remember, 'Evil gets done when good men stay silent'.

It is also important that we are able to focus on the things that matter. Excessive materialism is threatening to become part of our culture, and it is distorting our priorities. Let us distinguish our needs from our wants so that we can save for the future and also support our regions.

It is also important for us to be tolerant and show respect for one another so that our cultural and ethnic diversity will enrich our lives.  We have to remember that no matter what else we try to do, sustainable development cannot take place in the absence of peace and unity.

I want to call on our religious leaders not to relent in teaching us to appreciate that we owe everything to the will of God.  As we are always reminded, we all belong to God because he created us in his own image.

The Church should also continue to teach us to desire to give rather than to receive, and also to appreciate that altruism is the best form of egoism.

Above all, we should be reminded that we are social beings and we owe our happiness to one another.  Imagine you were to live alone on an island, with all your creature needs, and all the riches you can imagine, jewelry, wine, etc. I doubt that you will find life worth living.  Indeed, we are all social beings.

History has taught us that God has given each one of us a short time to make a difference. It is our time to make the difference.  Let us seize the opportunity.  Let us support the Church to inspire us, so that we can continue to derive lasting peace and comfort from it.

I want to end by asking all of you to continue to support the church so that when we celebrate our seventy-fifth anniversary, we shall be able to look back with pride at our accomplishments.

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