Wednesday, November 28, 2012

From Novices to Brothers

Victor steps forward to make his vows.

Novitiate is a time of initiation, discerning and preparation.  By definition, it leads to a decision and a commitment.  The Tamale novitiate group of 2011-12 took the final step in their journey of initiation on Saturday, November 24, when they made their First Profession as Christian Brothers at Sts. Peter and Paul church. 
Special guests, Br. Chris Teh from Sierra Leone (2nd from left) and Br. Alfred Banda (right) from Zambia.
This public and solemn act of self-giving took place, fittingly, in the setting of a Eucharist, the celebration of Jesus’s giving of himself in perfect love to God.  The Archbishop of Tamale, Philip Naameh, presided at the Eucharist, and linked the step being taken by these ten young men with the Year of Faith being celebrated by the Catholic Church.  
After the profession comes the moment for congratulations.

The vows were formally received on behalf of the Congregation Leader by Br. Chris Teh, the District Leader of the West African District within the Africa Province.
Ten men, eight from Africa (one from Sierra Leone, three from Kenya, four from Zambia) and two from Papua New Guinea (part of the Oceania Province), took the vows of Evangelical Poverty, Chastity and Obedience for one year.  They have at least six years of annual profession to experience the life of a professed Brother and to be confirmed that this is where God is calling them.  They then will have the chance to ask to make a life commitment through Final Profession.
The ten new Brothers at the reception after the Mass.

By the end of the day they were all experiencing a mix of joy, excitement, relief and satisfaction.  The novitiate is over, and now begins the new challenge and adventure of life as a professed Brother in their countries of origin.  We say Thank You for the way they have entered into the novitiate experience and offer blessings for the year ahead.
Br. Tony Shanahan CFC (Director)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Saying Goodbye, Saying Thanks

  Hazeley presents to Yahaya while Con looks on.

As the novices of 2011-12 moved towards the end of their novitiate journey, it was time to take stock of two years in Tamale, to prepare to leave and so to say goodbye.  However, saying goodbye also involves recognizing and giving thanks to those who have supported and encouraged us along the way.

Foremost among these are our workers at Br. Paul Noonan Formation Centre, and on the Wednesday before the Profession roles were reversed.  Our workers were the ones being served as the novices prepared a special lunch for them and made presentations to express our thanks for the loyalty, hard work and friendship of Yahaya and Mariam in the kitchen, Gifti in the laundry, and Mohamed and Baba at the gate.

  Daniel presents a gift to Mariam.

Language barriers and the usual Ghanaian courtesy prevented us getting frank comments about the somewhat non-Ghanaian food that was presented, but it seemed to be enjoyed.  The workers honoured us with their festive dress, and Lewis’s speech of thanks to the workers included some sentences in Dagbani – to the delight of the workers!  It was clear from the broad smiles and warm feeling at the lunch that this group of novices and the workers had forged bonds across language and cultural boundaries.
    Romano and Madam Gifti.

Monday, October 29, 2012



Tamale is a city of mosques.  Their number is overwhelming.  They far outnumber the churches of the Christian denominations put together.  The faith of Tamale people is deeply rooted in God.  They don’t seem to see any necessity to have modern buildings as mosques.  They are simple people and they can pray in places which might seem a last option to others.  When my Friday ministry involved moving around town to distribute food to the destitute, I saw packed mosques on every corner during afternoon worship.  Those who could not get a space inside found a space outside the shops or under the trees and performed their prayers there.  What great faith!  (Kutwa)

During my two years in Ghana, I have come to realize that people are friendly regardless of religion.  There is a difference in terms of cultural practices compared to Zambia, but it has helped me to value different cultures as well. I have learnt something of culture of the people in Tamale, especially the Dagombas who are the majority.
Tamale has Christians and Muslims, though the latter are the great majority, and I am very impressed to see the relationship between these two religions. I have seen both religions showing sincere respect and love for each other. It was a valuable opportunity for me to interact with Muslims because in Zambia there are few Muslims.
These experiences in Ghana have been tremendous and have helped me to understand what Internationality means in our Congregation of Christian Brothers.  ( Belamino)
Many times I have heard of countries and situations where there are hostilities and tensions in people’s lives due to their religious beliefs, with Christians against Muslims, Muslims against Christians, accusing each and praising their religion as the best. That is not the case in Tamale where the great majority of the population (over 90%) are Muslims and a small minority are Christian.

During my stay in Tamale, I have been impressed by the way the Muslims and Christians live in harmony. I have made many friends and the most are Muslims. It is in Tamale that I entered a mosque for the first time and this showed the willingness to accommodate others’ religions. The inhabitants of Tamale are not divided by religion. For example, parents in a family can be Muslims while their children are Christians, or vice-versa. I have witnessed Muslims and Christians children attending the same school. Muslims and Christians attend each other’s religious and traditional celebrations and this has created freedom of interaction and intermarriage.
 In all there is freedom of expression about where one is to worship and this has developed respect and peace in the people’s lives.  If we could let go of our religious differences and know we all belong to and worship one God, we would be living peacefully, as I have experienced the people of Tamale doing. (Romano)

I have been inspired by the life lived between Christians and Muslims.  The love, unity and sharing between the two religions, as one family and one Ghana, is amazing.  I think the Inter-Religion Committee in the country is really helping to bring people together in understanding God.  This committee consists of Muslim and Christian leaders.  This has helped me to see that Ghanaians seem to understand that God is one, and is beyond and bigger than religion.
I have had many good relationships with Muslim families and friends in this mainly Islamic part of the north.  This has made my life in Tamale exciting and enjoyable.  The Christians living here are living happily, without complicated issues that would cause loss of life.  Their leaders from both religions meet from time to time, to nourish their relationships and love as people of one family, Ghana. (Nature)