Keta-Akatsi @ 25: Dzodze-Tornu, The Land of Ghana’s First Sacred Heart Shrine
By Damian Avevor
Every year, precisely the first Sunday of Advent, the Clergy, Religious and the faithful of the Keta-Akatsi Diocese undertake their pilgrimage to Ghana’s first Sacred Heart Shrine at Dzodze-Tornu. As the Diocese marks its 25 years of creation, coincidently, the people of Tornu are also marking the 85th anniversary of Catholicism and 38 years of the enthronement of the Shrine.
As the first Sacred Heart Shrine in Ghana, it was consecrated on June 19, 1982 by the Most Rev. Francis Kofi Anani Lodonu, then Bishop of Keta-Ho Diocese now Ho Diocese and supported by Most Rev. Dominic Kodwo Andoh, then Bishop of Accra Diocese, now Archdiocese of Accra.
Research and enquiries indicate that the dedication and outdooring ceremonies for the Shrine were marked in 1982 with a Pontifical High Mass which was attended by people from all walks of life to show their readiness to do devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
In 2010, Mr. Vincent Azamati, Catechist and Mr. Thomas Kamasah, who were among those who witnessed the erecting of the Statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, told this writer that “the situation of the Shrine at Tornu was a divine chosen one as three medals of the Sacred Heart were buried at three places-Tove, Kpefe and Tornu to allow God Himself to choose.”
After months, the medals at Tove and Kpefe could not be found but rather the two medals were found together in the same hole at Tornu. The Third Station of the Cross at the Shrine was the place where the medal was buried, the two Catechists narrated.
Later, a 21-feet Crucifix, designed by Mr. A. Anani, a Sculptor from Kpando, was erected at the entrance of the Shrine by about 200 people who, according to the Catechists, spent seven hours (from 8:00am to 3:00pm) in completing its erection.
Since the outdooring of the Shrine, many Priests had served as Spiritual Directors of including Rev. Frs. Matthias Ganyo, a Senior Priest of the Keta-Akatsi Diocese and a native of Tornu; Rev. Fr. Winfred Sraha; Rev. Fr. Mark Etsey and Fr. Harry Justin Barawusu, Rev. Fr. Peter Senoo and currently Rev. Fr. Prosper Agbogah.
People from Togo and all over Ghana come to the Shrine for Retreats and Recollections, special prayer and meditation Session, pilgrimages, Adoration and Healing on every first Fridays.
As a recap, during the 75th Anniversary celebration of Catholicism ten years ago on June 13, 2010 at Tornu, a series of activities were organised and climaxed with a Pontifical High Mass presided over by the Most Rev. Anthony Adanuty, the then Bishop of the Diocese, now Emeritus. Among the activities include Novena to the Sacred Heart, dedication of Choir Robes and a musical concert.
Bishop Adanuty emphatically made it known to the people of Tornu during the 75th Anniversary celebration on June 13 that devotion to the Sacred Heart was never an optional thing for Catholics but for every baptized Catholics who were bound to open their hearts to receive the love of Christ.
The Sacred Heart devotion is one of the most widespread and popular devotions in the Catholic Church. Apart from denoting the mystery of Christ as our Saviour, the Feast of the Sacred Heart is also a day of Prayer for the sanctification of Priests established by Pope John Paul II.
Like the people of Tornu, thousands of Ghanaian especially Sacred Heart devotees all over Ghana always defied all odds to celebrate the day in a grand style by actively participating in the Sacred Heart awareness month.
Some activities undertaken by Confraternities and Parishes in June include the encouragement to the faithful to offer Masses for the sanctification of the clergy and their special intentions; organise Prayer Sessions, talks, and seminars and interact with the priests either on the parish, deanery or diocesan levels in the month of June and thereafter to know more about the priestly ministry and their various needs.
Activities are also organized to raise funds in support of priests, religious and their Formation Houses. Funds raised should be donated directly to the Bishops of the various Dioceses. June 12, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, is also observed on deanery and diocesan levels as a day of consecration of priests to Mary, Mother of Christ who is the Spiritual mother of all priests.
Other activities/programmes organize by the Diocesan Enthronement Centres and Deaneries. The yearly programmes are organised to help the lay-faithful to understand better the priestly ministry and offer their spiritual, material and financial support for the welfare of our priests as well as offer continuous prayers for their sanctification.
Source: Damian Avevor//Newswatchgh.com