Reverend Thomas Binanbiba Bamoah, at 45 was ordained as a Catholic priest on June 5, 2021 and his friends from St. Joseph Church and Shrine in Gretna are proud to have been a part of his journey.
Originally Deacon Thomas was to be ordained in the Diocese of Yendi in Ghana, but that all changed with a drive-by his Lay Support Committee at St. Joseph’s, led by Chairman David Kalil. They wanted to see Deacon Thomas ordained as a priest here before his return to Ghana. After going through the approval process, they were successful in their efforts. Thus, his ordination last Sunday with five other seminarians from Notre Dame Seminary.
He celebrated his first Mass of Thanksgiving at historic St. Joseph’s, after which he was guest of honor at a reception sponsored by his Monday Catechesis Class, his lay Support Committee and Knights of Columbus Council #1905.
“Little girls dream about getting married and meeting Prince Charming coming on a white horse to carry them away. Men studying for the priesthood dream about their ordination day. The joy of the priest at his ordination is like that of a bride on her wedding day. Father Thomas experienced that joy and it showed in his face,” Rev. Gary Copping, pastor of St. Joseph Church and Father Thomas’s priestly mentor said.
The new reverend’s assignment as a Deacon at St. Joseph’s in Gretna began in the summer of 2020. He served there until after the New Year when he returned to Notre Dame Seminary.
Father Thomas is from Konjatedando a small village in the Northern part of Ghana, Africa. His parents were peasant farmers who through their enduring labor saw to it that he and his nine siblings were able to survive the rampant child mortality rate and hunger in Ghana. His entire family are African traditionalists; he, the only Christian in the family and in his village.
“I am African by all means. The communal way of life lives within me. I enjoy reaching out to new friends, even strangers. I feel that I should treat everyone as a brother or sister,” he said for an interview in a GretnaGlance.com post titled “From Ghana to Gretna” on Dec. 16, 2020. http://gretnaglance.com/from-ghana-to-gretna/
“I thought of becoming a priest since 1995 because of my deep love and commitment for the Church. Since then, my desire to become a priest has never wavered for any reason,” he said.
Once he entered the seminary in 2005, he led a strict and disciplined life, 900 miles from home, bitterly cold because the seminary was located in the highlands of Ghana.
Seminarian Thomas suspended his priestly formation program in 2007 in order to get a job and provide for family needs. He had various jobs, like teaching Catechism in non-Catholic Schools and visiting the sick.
He worked for a year in the dreaded Ghani Witch Village and Witch Camp, a common phenomenon in northern Ghana. Persons, mostly women accused of witchcraft reside in the camp and are falsely accused, tortured and brutally treated. The Roman Catholic Church in Ghani is helping to dispel some of the negative beliefs regarding the accused witches and supports the inmates in the camps.
After earning a Bachelor of Education in 2015, he taught school until 2016 when he decided to continue his mission to become a priest.
“I was privileged to have the opportunity to come to Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans to study theology and it has been an exciting time,” Father Thomas said when he finished his service in Gretna.
“My living in Gretna and St. Joseph is God’s blessing and I can say it is God who chose St. Joseph Parish for me. The people are loving, caring and encouraging. Both the pastor and people are excellent people to work with. St. Joseph and Gretna is the best place God has ever given to me to live. The people are loving, caring and charitable. What I will say is thank you God for the blessing given to me.”