The creation of Keta-Akatsi Diocese was formally announced by the Papal Nuncio to Ghana, His Excellency Most Reverend Andre Dupuy at a Press Conference in Accra on Friday 17th March 1995 under the chairmanship of the Most Rev. Francis Anani Kofi Lodonu, Bishop of Keta-Ho diocese and President of the Ghana Bishops’ Conference. The announcement also carried the news of the creation of four other new dioceses: the Diocese of Jasikan (Co-created with Keta-Akatsi on 19th December, 1994), Damongo (3rd February 1995), Konongo-Manpong and Obuasi (co-created on 3rd March 1995). Reverend Monsignor Anthony Kwame Adanuty, Desk Officer at the Holy See’s Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples in Rome was appointed the first Bishop of the new Diocese of Keta-Akatsi.
In the year it was carved out of the Keta-Ho Diocese, the Keta-Akatsi Diocese had ten parishes, namely, Keta (St. Michael), Denu (St. Anthony), Abor (St. Teresa), Dzodze (Ss. Peter & Paul), Dzelukope (St. Peter Claver), Anloga (St. Francis of Assisi), Aflao (Ss. Peter & Paul), Sogakope (Holy Cross), Akatsi (Christ the King) and Juapong (St. Francis of Assisi). The number of parishes and quasi parishes in the diocese has, by the year 2011, risen to eighteen as Adidome (Risen Christ), Viepe (St. Benedictus), Atiavi-Hatorgodo (St. Anthony), Tegbi (St. Anthony), Tadzewu (Holy Trinity), Agbozume (Immaculate Conception), Adutor (St. Teresa of Avila) and Mafi Kumasi (Good Shepherd) were created. The Diocese covers the eight political and civil divisions of Keta Munipality, Ketu South, Ketu North, South Tongu, Central Tongu, North Tongu, Akatsi South and Akatsi North districts.
Together with the Dioceses of Ho, Jasikan and Koforidua, the Keta-Akatsi Diocese is a suffragan See of the Ecclesiastical Province of Accra, with the Archdiocese of Accra as the Metropolitan see.
The history of Keta-Akatsi Diocese could be traced as far back as 1890, or earlier. Before the definite establishment of the Catholic Church at Keta in 1890, there were few Catholics from Dahomey working in Keta who were occasionally visited by the priests from Agoue.
THE KETA CATHOLIC CHURCH – MAY 25, 1890
The Pro-Vicariate of Dahomey was assigned to the Society of African Missions (S.M.A) on August 28, 1860 and Fr. Pierre Augustin Planque, the Society’s Superior General based in France, posted its first two priests to Ouida (Dahomey) where they first established their mission on April 18, 1861. Later, they established other stations including Agoue form where itinerant priests first made periodic visits to Keta.
Their mandate was to establish churches first at Keta, followed by others and from there to direct expeditious evangelization works throughout the territory of the Lower Volta.
Impressed by the response of the people of Keta, the first two resident priests namely Fr. Michael Wade (Irish) and Fr. Jean-Baptiste Thuet (Alsacian-French) were posted to Keta. On May 25, 1890 they established the first Catholic Church at Keta and chose as its patron Saint St. Michael Wade, the first superior of the Catholic Church in Keta. That was how the Cathedral of the Keta Diocese derived its name. It was from Keta that evangelisation spread and developed first as the Lower Volta Vicariate in 1923, then as the Keta Diocese in 1950, and finally from 1976 as the Keta-Ho Diocese.
On the arrival of the two priests, an English school was opened immediately and was efficiently manned by Fr. Wade. That same year, on 27th October, a piece of Land was acquired from one Mr. Jacobson and Chief Tamakloe for the building of the Mission, which project was supervised by Fr. Dolci, a new arrival. In 1891, Fr. Van Pavordt, a Dutch priest, who had arrived from Dahomey, died and was buried at Keta as the first seed of missionary effort, planted in faith.
The Missionary Sisters’ Order of Our Lady of Apostles (O.L.A.), founded in 1876 by the co-founder of S.M.A., Fr. Pierre Augustin, joined the education ministry. In furtherance of the educational programme of the O.L.A Sisters the Keta Convent for girls was established in 1912. In 1954 the convent was elevated as a boarding school for girls.
The reputation of the Keta O.L.A. convent for girls’ education gained wide publicity throughout the Gold Coast and parents travelled from all parts of the country to seek admission for their daughters in the Boarding School. The discipline, industry and hard work exhibited by old girls in their subsequent careers as teachers, officials in commence and industry etc. was a proof of the success that has been achieved by the Boarding School.
It is significant to note the history of the schools because they greatly enhanced the history of the faith during this early period and explain it. Before his death in 1895, Fr. Wade had tried, though without any success, to open schools at Agbozume, Anyako and Tegbi to add to the Keta School opened in 1890. His efforts, however, were not in vain, because in 1897 a school was opened at Dzelukope. Ten years later, other schools were added: Denu and Hedzranawo (1903), Adafienu (1906), Adina (1907), Aflao (1908) and Dzodze (1912).
At the time of the creation of the prefecture Apostolic of Dahomey (26th June 1883), the Southern Sector, then called Lower Volta, was ruled by Denmark with its Regional Headquarters at Keta, while the Northern Sector, which later became the British Mandated Togoland was ruled by Germany. In 1892 the German S.V.D. Missionaries, based in Lome and Kpalime, undertook the evangelisation of the Northern Sector. On 15th March 1923 the Lower Volta Vicariate was created to cover the territories being referred to as Northern and Southern sectors. It was this Lower Volta Vicariate which was elevated on 18th April, 1950 to the status and dignity of a diocese: the diocese of Keta. It was not until 1956 that both the Northern and Southern Sectors were merged to form the Trans-Volta Togoland Region of the Gold Coast, which later became the Volta Region after the plebiscite in 1956. The Volta Region was an integral part of the Gold Coast that gained independence in 1957.
In 1894 when it was decided to transfer the territory of the Lower Volta from the Prefecture Apostolic of Dahomey to the Prefecture of the Gold Coast, the Northern Sector remained part of what later became the Prefecture of Togo under the German S.V.D. missionaries up to 1918 after World War I. Then, as the British Mandated Togoland, it was integrated first into the Lower Volta Vicariate 1923, which then became the Keta Diocese in 1950 and later received the new name Keta-Ho Diocese in 1976.
Many of those who embraced the new faith were obliged to live outside Keta on account of their employment and occupations. The fathers of Keta therefore visited regularly these faithful at Ada, Akuse, Kpong, Koforidua and Accra. It may be confidently said that the Accra and Koforidua Dioceses were, to a great extent, given birth to by Keta.
Evangelization work in the Lower Volta Vicariate yielded results as early as 1922 when Rev. Athanasius Odai Dogli was ordained the first African priest, followed by ordination in Lome of Rev. Father Herman Kwakume of Keta as the first African priest to be ordained in French Togo in 1928. In 1925 Sister Virginia (nee Julia Leticia Althorff) of Keta also became the first African sister to take her final Vow in 1930.
CATHOLIC CHURCH IN AKATSI -1941
The area of Akatsi was introduced to the catholic faith in 1924 when the following stations were opened in what was Abor district: Abor, Tsiame, Atiavi, Glime, Agboroko, Wlite, Agbedrafor, Avenorfeme, Dzogadze, Tadzewu, Weme, Sashieme, Adutor and Agbakope. Akatsi itself embraced the faith in 1941 when a staiotn was opened at Akatsi Anyiheme, a suburb of Akatsi behind the present Akatsi Collage of Education.
Under the care of Fr. Hendrix, then the priest at Abor, Mr. Cosmas Amegashie, the first Catechist, held catechism lessons for the new converts under a tree in the compound of the late Togbi Gago. Later, Mr. Ametefi offered a room for use as church and classroom. In 1950, to make the church and the school grow faster and catch up with those in the neighborhoods, the community of Akatsi decided to move church and school form Anyiheme to a new site along the Akatsi-Accra road, between Akatsi-Anyiheme and Akatsi Mornenu.
It is significant to note that the first Head Christian, Mr. Kodzo Agorkpa, who very assiduously worked for the spread of the faith until old age, and who necessitated that he should be succeeded by baptized Catholics, was himself not baptized.
The arrival of the Comboni Missionaries has greatly helped to accelerate the pace of evangelization in what is now Keta-Akatsi Diocese. Besides spiritual activities, they have embarked upon development projects like the building of churches, schools, clinics, a rehabilitation centre for the handicapped and water projects. And in 1997, a new congregation by name Don Guanella Missionaries of Charity came to continue the management of the St. Theresa School, a rehabilitation center for the physically challenged, started by the Comboni Missionaries.
On 15th May, 1923, the Vicariate of the Lower Volta was created and placed under the Dutch Province of the S.M.A. Bishop Herman arrived as its first bishop at Keta on 23rd October 1923. He worked indefatigably until his death on 8th April 1945. Bishop J. G. Holland succeeded Bishop Herman in 1946 but had to leave to Liverpool in 1950 because of ill health.
In 1950, when the Catholic Hierarchy was created in British West Africa, the Vicariate of the Lower Volta became the Diocese of Keta. Its Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Anthony Konings arrived at Keta in 1954 and worked for twenty-two years before retiring in 1976.
On 29th June, 1973, the Rt. Rev. Francis Kofi Anani Lodonu was ordained in Rome by His Holiness Pope Paul IV, and after being Auxiliary Bishop for three years, he took over the Administration of the Diocese (which then was called the Keta-Ho Diocese) on 15th August 1976 as the first indigenous Bishop.
The announcement at 12:00 noon on 17th March 1995 of the creation of the Keta-Akatsi Diocese, besides being an encouragement for further growth of the church in this part of the Volta Region, is an eloquent testimony of the great strides the church has made in this area. The Nuncio, on that fateful 17th March 1995, also announced a Bishop for the new Keta-Akatsi Diocese in the person of Rev. Monsignor Anthony Kwame Adanuty.
Until his appointment as Bishop, Rev. Msgr. Adanuty worked in the Vatican as an officer in the congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. After his ordination in Accra on 28th May 1995 by His Excellency Joseph Cardinal Tomko, and his installation at Akatsi on 10th June, 1995 by His Grace Most Rev. Dominic Andoh, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Accra, Bishop Adanuty took up the mantle of leadership as the local Ordinary of the Keta-Akatsi Diocese with his Moto: IN VERBO TUO, which means “Upon Your Word” (cf. Luke 5:5)
Fr. Valentine Gregory Hlovor
(Director, DEPSOCOM, Keta –Akatsi)