A Short History of St. Theresa’s Parish
In September 1962, Fr. Al. Turbek and Sister Francetta opened St. Theresa’s Preparatory School in two (2) newly built classrooms, located at what later became known as AWUDOME ROUNDABOUT. In the course of the same year a third room was added to the same building.
In August 1963, work was started on a second block of three (3) classrooms –concrete foundation and floor, supported by a wooden structure above. In that same year, an announcement was made during that year’s Harvest of the Holy Family Parish – Mataheko, to parishioners living within Kaneshie and its surroundings areas to start a new parish on the site of the then St. Theresa’s School. Kaneshie was at that time, considered as an outstation of the Mataheko Parish, which in turn was part of the original Sacred Heart Parish at Derby Avenue.
It was however, a second announcement however that prompted the late Mr. William Luke Laast to take a decision on the call of creating a new parish. Mr. Willie Laast called a meeting at which the following persons were present; Mrs. Frances Sallah (Mama Miedoafe II), Mr. & Mrs. J. P. Addei, the late Mrs. Marian Wood and her sisters Mrs. Florence Dyson, Mrs. Catherine Ankomah-Sey, the late Mrs. Elizabeth Maison, Mrs. Florence Laast, the late Mrs. Rose Painstil, the late Mrs. Doris Cooke and a few others. At this meeting, Mr. Willie Laast had to gather all his wits to convince them to come down to the then St. Theresa School and build a “Mini Cathedral” that would be more beautiful than the Holy Family Chapel which they had contributed in putting up.
Only gradually did a Catholic congregation become associated with the location at Awudome Circle, when occasionally a priest from Mataheko would come for Sunday Mass which was held in the evening in the beginning. The first structure with open-ended classrooms (old chapel) was used as a church. Visiting priests also came to Kaneshie through the special arrangement of Mr. Willie Laast.
Although a register had not been put in place the following were some of the founding members of St. Theresa Parish.
|FOUNDING FATHERS||FOUNDING MOTHERS|
|Mr. A. B. Dadson||Mad Elizabeth Boston|
|Mr. Amui||Mrs C. Hutchison|
|Mr. B. A. Sarpey||Mrs Catherine Ankomah Sey|
|Mr. D. D. Duncan||Mrs Cecilia Mensah|
|Mr. Dominic Mensah||Mrs Christiana Addei|
|Mr. J. A. Armah||Mrs Elizabeth Maison|
|Mr. J. Ben Eghan||Mrs Elizabeth Moses|
|Mr. J. P. Addei||Mrs Elizabeth Sam|
|Mr. Joseph Ashong||Mrs F. Sallah|
|Mr. Joseph Kodzo||Mrs Frances Dyson|
|Mr. Joseph Moses||Mrs Marian Wood|
|Mr. S. S. Mensah||Mrs Rose Painstil|
|Mr. Thomas Mensah||Mrs. Beatrice Dadson|
|Mr. W. L. Laast||Mrs. F. Laast|
|Mr. P. K. Baidoo||Mrs. Helen Ayikpah|
|Mrs. Mary Saltson|
|Mrs. Mercy Odonkor|
|Ms Agnes Mensah|
|Ms Anna Mensah|
|Ms Cecilia Enima|
|Ms. Agnes Hooper|
In 1968, Fr. Sebastian Sperl, a young German SVD priest was appointed to part-time parochial duty in addition to his teaching assignment at St. Thomas Aquinas School. He would walk several miles from Osu to Awudome to say Mass. In December, he recorded the first BAPTISM in the first register for St. Theresa Church.
A new site was acquired for the school, and there was the need to purchase enough furniture since what was being used belonged to the school. Mr. and Mrs. A. B. Dadson (Deceased) donated to the parish the then altar and two kneelers.
Mrs. Frances Sallah donated 50 chairs and a table. Mr. Willie Laast donated all the statues in the chapel. Other items donated by Mr. Willie Laast were most of the vestments worn by the priests and altar boys, the chalices and other vessels used on the altar and also an organ from his home.
In 1969, Fr. Vincent Burke, also teaching at St. Thomas Aquinas School, took over from Fr. Sperl. He was always accompanied by a young student called Alexander Bobby Benson who later became a priest.
In 1972, on Sunday, September 3, Fr. John Harpel was introduced to the congregation as the first full-time priest in charge. He took residence at the Sacred Heart Parish – Derby Avenue till 1974 when the parish built its own rectory at the cost of 28,000.00 cedis.
THERESA: AN AUTONOMOUS PARISH
By a Special Bull from the then Bishop Most Rev. Dominic Kodwo Andoh, St. Theresa Parish, hitherto an outstation of Holy Family Parish, Mataheko was declared a parish on 22nd December, 1974. However, it was not until 5th October 1975 that His Lordship at a Special Pontifical High Mass officially declared the Parish autonomous. In commemoration of our “Self Government” a statue of St. Theresa was erected on the compound, the unveiling and blessing of which was performed by His Lordship.
THE TITLE – MINI BASILICA
On Sunday 29th May 1977, the first Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to Ghana, His Grace Archbishop Guiseppe Ferraioli was invited by Fr. Harpel to celebrate mass at St. Theresa Parish. It was the first parish he visited in Ghana. Parishioners welcomed Archbishop Ferraioli at the main junction leading to the parish by saying “You are welcome to the mini Cathedral, Your Grace”.
The Rev. Sisters (Sister Servants of the Holy Spirit, SSPS) were also associated with St. Theresa School as teachers and also helping the decoration of the church, assisting in the teaching of catechism and the preparation of our children in the reception of the Sacraments of first Communion and Confirmation.
Among them are Rev. Sisters Francetta, Godefrida (Deceased), Johannicia, Rose Theresa, Virginalis (Deceased), Mary Laureen, Agatha, Luchina (Deceased 1990), Yvonne, Dalia and Bernada (now Maria).
As membership increased, it became clear that the small church building would not be able to cope with the growing community, and a new chapel was begun in earnest in 1979. On October 2, 1994, to commemorate the feast of St. Theresa, His Grace Archbishop Dominic Kodwo Andoh, dedicated the “Mini-Basilica” at a pontifical high mass.