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History Of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish

The Chaplaincy started in a disused wooden walled military gymnasium where the current St. Thomas More Catholic Church is situated at Achimota. The sacristy was a guardroom adjoining the gymnasium.

The congregation was initially composed mainly of students of a Teacher Training College nearby. These were joined later by Catholics among the first batch of students admitted to the University College of the Gold Coast in 1948. With time, some inhabitants of the surrounding communities of Achimota Village, Alogboshie, Christian Village and Kissehman, who were workers of Achimota School and the University College, joined the congregation. The priest during this time was Rev Fr. Maurice Lesage who also doubled as a Biology teacher and Chaplain of Achimota School. Mass was on Sundays at 9:00am

In September 1950, Rev Fr. (Prof) John Raymond Koster, SVD, was posted to the then Gold Coast on a two-year secondment to the Catholic Mission to be in charge of the pastoral care of students of the University College. In addition to his priestly duties, he was also appointed as a lecturer in the Physics Department of the College.

Upon the completion of the Legon and Akuafo Halls of residence in 1956, the University students moved into residence on the Legon campus. However, the church remained in Achimota and students had to shuttle there for Mass on Sundays.

By the late 1956, Rev Fr. Koster had moved to the Commonwealth Hall on its completion and thus started celebrating mass for students in what is known as the Long Room (Library) in Commonwealth Hall.

On Sunday afternoons, Fr. Koster and David Mowbary Balme, the first Principal of the University College of Gold Coast, met with students in Mr. Balme’s living room in Commonwealth Hall for Bible and religious discussions.  What started as a small group meeting in the living room of the Principal evolved into the nucleus of Pax Romana Ghana Federation.

In response to the Chaplaincy’s quest for a larger and more suitable place of worship, the University offered the place presently occupied by Mensah Sarbah Hall to the Church for its building. In 1961, as the Chaplaincy delayed to erect a Chapel for want of funds, the University had a change of plan and decided to build an additional hall of residence at the site. Prudently, the University as a compensatory overture, decided to incorporate in the building plan for the Mensah Sarbah Hall, a Chapel for the exclusive use of the Catholic Community. Thus, after the commissioning of the Mensah Sarbah Hall on 19th December 1963, the Chapel in the Hall was assigned to the Catholic Church. From thence, the Catholic Community moved to worshipping in the Mensah Sarbah Hall Chapel.

Weekday Masses (i.e. Monday – Saturday) were celebrated at 6:30am and, on Sundays two Masses were celebrated.  The First Mass, patronized mostly by students, was at 7:00am and the Second Mass at 9:00am. Because of the large number of students, the Chaplaincy began to rent the Central Cafeteria, and later the Mensah Sarbah Dinning Hall, for Mass on Sundays. Even then, canopies had to be erected to contain the overflow of worshipers during the monthly joint student-staff Masses.

With the ever-increasing size of the University Community and a parallel expansion in the size of the Catholic-student numbers, the Chaplaincy started negotiations with the University for space to build a bigger church. Thus, a new parcel of land measuring about 0.6 acres was offered and the sod cutting for the new church building was performed by the then Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Accra (late Emeritus), the Most Rev. Dominic Kodwo Andoh on 14th January 1994. He was assisted by (the late) Rev. Fr. Yvon Yangyuoru, Snr. Chaplain, and Prof. Norbert Komla Kofinti, President of the then Pastoral Council. The construction of the new church, of a sitting capacity of 1,500, started in early1995.

It is worthy to note that the Catholic Chapel, as it was originally called, was renamed St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Chaplaincy in 1997, in honour of St. Thomas Aquinas, a great Catholic scholar and Patron Saint of Catholic Institutions of Higher Learning.  Priests in the St. Thomas Aquinas Chaplaincy have since the mid-1970s extended their services to other communities that have led to the development of a Rectory at Kwabenya and the Queen of Peace Church at Madina.  Notable among priests who served in the Legon Catholic Church include Fr. Koster (SVD), Fr. Ryan, Fr. Yangyuoru, Fr. Osei- Bonsu (now Bishop of Konongo-Mampong Diocese), Fr. Apuri, Fr. Gyamfi, Fr. Gervase Angsontinge, Msgr. Matthew Edusei and Fr. Peprah.

In June 2006, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Accra, Most Rev. Charles Gabriel Palmer-Buckle appointed Rev. Fr. Ebenezer Akesseh as the Parochial Administrator of the Chaplaincy thus making him the first full time Administrator of the Catholic Community in Legon.

On April 18th 2009, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Accra, Most Rev Charles Gabriel Palmer-Buckle, dedicated the Church building, that was started several years ago, to the Glory of God. The current Chaplains include Rev. Fr. Michael Perry Okyerefo, Rev. Fr. Joseph Okine-Quartey and Rev. Fr. Stephen Acheampong.

After the completion of the Church Building, the University requested to repossess the Sarbah Chapel, which was then being used for Weekday Masses. On Friday 30th of July 2010, Very Rev. Fr Francis Adoboli (Vicar General of Accra Archdiocese) assisted by Rev. Fr. Ebenezer Akesseh deconsecrated the Chapel during morning Mass.

At Mass on Sunday, 21st April 2013, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Accra, Most Rev. Charles Gabriel Palmer-Buckle elevated the St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Chaplaincy to the status of a Parish. The construction of the Rectory, which was started in 2011, was also dedicated on the same day.

Very Rev. Fr. Ebenezer Akesseh was subsequently installed, as the First Parish Priest of the St. Thomas Aquinas Church at mass on that day (Sunday, 21st April, 2013). Fr. Wisdom Larweh took over from the Very Rev. Fr. Ebenezer Akesseh on Wednesday, August 7, 2013 as the new Parochial Administrator.

Contact Info

The Parish Pastorial Council
St. Thomas Aquinas Parish
P.O.BOX LG 1008
Legon
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(+233 276061525)

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