By Damian Avevor, Ghana The members of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference, together with the Clergy, Religious and the entire Lay Faithful of t
By Damian Avevor, Ghana
The members of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference, together with the Clergy, Religious and the entire Lay Faithful of the Catholic Church in Ghana, have eulogised the former Apostolic Nuncio to Ghana, Most Rev. Leon Badikebele Kalenga, as a true gentleman, a faith-filled and faithful companion, a true servant of God who built bridges among all.
Archbishop who died in Rome on June 12, 2019 has since been buried in Rome on June 15. He was Apostolic Nuncio to Ghana from 2008 to 2013.
In a message of condolence June 14, the Bishops of Ghana said they “have received with deep sorrow, news of the passing of His Excellency Most. Rev. Leon Badikebele Kalenga who until his death was the Apostolic Nuncio to Argentina.
“His passing way is a blow to all of us in the Catholic Church in Ghana but we are consoled by the fact that he served God and His Church well and is resting in the arms of His Creator,” the message stated.
“We wish to commiserate with our Holy Father Pope Francis, the Secretariat of State, the Family and the Catholic Church in the Democratic Republic of Congo his country of birth,” the message said.
Archbishop Kalenga served the Church in Ghana as the Apostolic Nuncio from 2008 to 2013 and as the Pope’s Representative and Ambassador of the Holy See, the Ghanaian Bishops noted that “the late Apostolic Nuncio portrayed a good image of the Vatican and served dutifully as a true representative of the Holy Father.”
As the first and till date the only African Nuncio to serve the Catholic Church in Ghana, the Bishops praised him for understanding well the challenges of the African Church and gave his best assistance in helping to resolve many of these challenges.
The late Nuncio will be remembered for his good relationship with the Bishops’ Conference in their collective and individual roles of shepherding the Church in Ghana, the Prelates added.
In his regular visits to dioceses, he always found time to interact with the Bishops, Priests, Religious and Laity, offering them inspiring words of encouragement and urging them to continue to serve the Church in their respective apostolates. The Staff of our Catholic Secretariat were also beneficiaries of his visits and his support.
As the seventh Nuncio to Ghana, he is also on record to have invited on regular basis groups including Catechists, Vocations Directors, Knights etc. to the Nunciature to interact with them.
He helped in championing the growth of the Church in Ghana. During his tenure as Nuncio in Ghana, the Apostolic Prefecture of Donkorkrom was promoted to a Vicariate with the elevation of Prefect Gabriel Kumordji as Apostolic Vicar with privileges as a Bishop in 2010. Frs. Peter Paul Angkyier and Alfred Agyenta were appointed Bishops of Damongo and Navrongo Bolgatanga
Dioceses in 2010 and 2011 respectively. The second Ghanaian Bishop outside Ghana, Fr. Dennis Agbenyadzi, SMA was appointed under his service in 2012.
Bishops Gabriel Justice Anokye, Philip Naameh and Matthias Kobena Nketsiah were also elevated Archbishops of Kumasi in 2012, Tamale in 2009 and Cape-Coast in 2010 under his service.
It was during his tenure that Peter Cardinal Turkson was appointed as the President of the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace in 2009.
Reminiscing his Trip to the Afram Plains
In April 2009, when Archbishop Leon B. Kalenga, visited the Afram Plains, he called on government to consider providing an additional ferry (a boat for carrying passengers, goods and vehicles) to ease the problems of transporting people on the River Afram from Adawso to Ekye Amanfrom in the Afram Plains.
He said the current situation as he witnessed himself at the time, was very worrying since the ferry, known in the local parlance as Pontoon, could not carry as many passengers and vehicles at a goal, which, he noted could distract businesses and plans of people.
The Nuncio was carried by the Nana Kwasi Gyimah Ferry to then Donkorkrom Prefecture now the Donkorkrom Vicariate in the Afram Plains to celebrate the 2009 Chrism Mass with the Priests and lay faithful.
Visiting the then Prefecture for the first time since his arrival to Ghana on June 12, 2008, as the first African Nuncio to Ghana, Archbishop Leon Kalenga said though he enjoyed sitting in the ferry for twenty minutes from Adawso to Ekye, he has been moved by the frustrations and disappointments the passengers went through as he witnessed misunderstandings between some drivers who were unable to join the ferry, resulting in fighting.
As part of his visit, he celebrated the Chrism Mass with the Priests, Religious and the faithful, and emphasized that the children of Afram Plains deserve good upbringing so that they can aspire to become Priests and Religious, adding that “the smiles glaring in your faces give me joy that the children have a bright future in the Prefecture and Ghana as a whole.”
“There is a great future here as I have seen in activities and lives of the children,” he said, commending parents for their parental responsibilities in the good upbringing of the children.
He tasked the youth to take their Christian formation and training seriously, appealing to the faithful to support the Prefect to bring more developments to the Prefecture, which is now a vicariate with Bishop Asiedu as the second Apostolic Vicar.