Views: 643 Most Rev Richard Kuu-ia Baawobr is consecrated as the fourth bishop of Wa. The event took place at the Wa Sports Stadium, two weeks ago. On...

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Most Rev Richard Kuu-ia Baawobr is consecrated as the fourth bishop of Wa.

The event took place at the Wa Sports Stadium, two weeks ago.

On the occasion, Archbishop of the Tamale Metropolis, Most Rev Philip Naameh admonished the newly consecrated Bishop and the lay faithful in a homily based on the following scriptures: Joshua 1: 11, 5b – 9; Acts 20: 17 – 18a, 28 – 32; Mark 10: 32 – 45.

My dear Richard, the choice of the readings for this liturgy suggests that you will like to understand your call to the episcopacy at this particular time, in the light of the call of Joshua. Joshua was called to lead the people of God and bring them to the Promised Land, when Moses, the dedicated leader of God’s people was hundred and twenty years old, and when God had decided that Moses would not lead the people across the Jordan. God also knew that once the people crossed the Jordan, they would be very prone to infidelity to him, as they would not easily resist the lures of the pagan gods. Both God and Moses instructed Joshua on what leadership of God’s people after Moses will be based on.  Not on a human person, as in the time of Moses, but on the law that Moses was to hand over to the people before dying. In adhering to the law, it were as if God himself was going to go ahead of Joshua and the people, dispossess the pagan kings of the land and give it to the people. And so God instructs Joshua “to be strong and stand very firm and be careful to keep the whole law.  Do not swerve from this (law), either to the right or to the left. Have the book of the law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night. Be strong and stand firm, be fearless and undaunted.”

Like Joshua, God is calling you at this time to lead the people of the Upper West Region, to an intimate knowledge of His law, by faithfully adhering to it yourself. Like every catholic bishop you are called to be bishop not only to the Catholics, but to all the people in your jurisdiction. You will be bishop to the Catholics, Muslims, the traditional believers, and indeed everyone. You are also called to be bishop beyond your jurisdiction, in the universal church, wherever your services will be needed.

In the re-commissioning of Joshua, great insistence is placed in his leading “all” Israel across the Jordan to an intimate knowledge of God.  Joshua was to gather the disparate groups into one people of God.  This, my dear Richard stresses another quality of a catholic bishop, which you will assume with your ordination-to be the centre and promoter of unity. It will be your specific task, to weave the different groups, whether ethnic or otherwise, in the Upper West Region into one people of God, who will find fulfillment in accepting God’s law as their way of life, and seeking intimacy with God.

The multiple duties of a catholic bishop, which includes the care and solicitude for the poor and vulnerable of society, may be summarized under these three main functions of:  sanctifying the people of God, Governing the people of God, and teaching and preaching the word of God.

With the priest around him, the Bishop is the chief pastor in the Diocese. His responsibilities go beyond only the Catholics to include all people and especially those who may positively defile the love for the truth and the search for it. The duties of the Bishop also go beyond the defined area called the Diocese to include all sections of the universal Church. His task however may be reduced to the three roles of sanctifying the people of God – teaching and preaching the word of God and Governing Gods people.

As chief pastor, the bishop is the intercessor between God and his people. As a physician of souls, Pope St. Gregory the great, entreats all bishops to be conversant with all the forms of spiritual sicknesses that could assail his people, and so be able to provide the solutions that will be specific to each ailment. The bishop is to “preach the word, reprove, rebuke, and exhort with great endurance, the people of God”

When the rites of consecration, the bishop elect will be asked some questions which point to the various roles he is expected to play. He will be expected to resolve to maintain the deposit of faith entirely and incorrupt as handed down by the Apostles.  This points to his role, indeed his unenviable role of having to correct error and refute falsehood in a world which seems to prefer confusion to the order that God has created.

The Gospel we have just listened to further points out one aspect of the Bishop. When Jesus was making a final prediction of the suffering and death that he was going to meet in Jerusalem, the apostles were busy talking about places of honour and who` was to be the greatest.  The Bishop at times feel lonely, when his people, especially the priests appear not interested in a particular message he may want them to receive, especially when the message is about sacrifice, giving to others, and not receiving. It struck me very much that when the announcement of the new bishop was made someone said spontaneously I am happy that the Bishop is from my side. And even the priests who indeed are closest collaborators of the Bishop may be tempted to accept and reject collaboration with the Bishop, based on their perceived advantage which they could obtain from, or would be denied by the incoming Bishop. My dear Richard, having been a leader of your great congregation for several years, I need not tell you that this type of suffering is part of the Episcopal identity. Let us take consolation in the fact that even James and John who were vying for positions on the right and left of Jesus, finally died as martyrs for the Lord.

Finally, permit me to make an appeal to the lay faithful of this diocese. I think the time has come, after 87 years of evangelization, that you assume your role of empowering the diocese financially, to be able to continue the works of evangelization, and the care for the poor and needy.  The new bishop needs your assistance to take care of the priests, and finance your further education in the faith. Don’t just assume that he has the money, especially, when you hear that he is coming from Rome to be the bishop.  Be generous and God will bless you.