2012-09-26 / Front Page

Africa to Loretto, and Back

By Dennis Mazzuca

Fr. Gabriel, right, and Fr. McSweeney in Our Lady of Loretto. 
Dennis Mazzuca Fr. Gabriel, right, and Fr. McSweeney in Our Lady of Loretto. Dennis Mazzuca In October, Father Gabriel Awuafor of Our Lady of Loretto Catholic Parish will be returning to Ghana, after six years of growing in faith, education and community.

Father Gabriel came to Cold Spring from Abreshia in Central Ghana in 2006, and will be returning to his home diocese to await his new assignment.

Reflecting on how he has changed over his time in Cold Spring, Father Gabriel focused on the importance of education. The program that allows priests like Fr. Gabriel to come to America serves both to give aid to our local parish and as a means for the priests from Ghana to receive an education they might otherwise not have gotten.

As an example Fr. Gabriel is returning with a master’s in education and administration. He is looking forward to using the knowledge he has gained here in making sure his local Catholic schools are run more efficiently. Along with the formal education he received, Fr. Gabriel, who can often be seen enjoying a walk around the village, also commented how the experiences of a new culture have affected him. Spiritually, while he would not say his faith has changed, he said it has become stronger and that God has helped improve his priesthood through his time in Cold Spring.

Both Fr. Gabriel and Fr. McSweeney stressed the importance of the program in showing not only the differences in cultures, but also the similarities. “It shows the universality of our Church” says Fr. McSweeney. Fr. Gabriel adds that though there are small differences there is also a strong universal Church.

Fr. Gabriel noted that he has seen a change in the local Catholic parish as well as in himself during his time here. He has seen the parish grow in knowledge, commitment and in activity. As an example, through his time the parishioners have been aiding Fr. Gabriel in rebuilding his home church of St. Anthony’s. It speaks to both the priests’ comments on the universality of the Church, that a small parish in Philipstown, New York, can actively support and give aid to a parish in Abreshia in Central Ghana, so that it now has a roof.

As his time in America comes to a close Fr. Gabriel says he is leaving with many good memories. He would like to thank Fr. McSweeney and the parishioners, whom he refers to in his Sunday homilies as “my friends” or “my brothers and sisters,” for making his time here as good as it was. Fr. McSweeney says that having Fr. Gabriel around these past six years has made his life both easier and more enriched, and adds that it is not so much a job as it is a family.

There will be a going away reception for Fr. Gabriel on September 30th at 2 p.m. at the parish hall.

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