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Saying Goodbye to Ghana

BVM Mary Anne Hoope (r.) and an employee visit on the grounds of the Centre for Spiritual Renewal, in Kumasi, Ghana. (2005)

When I think of leaving Ghana and the Centre for Spiritual Renewal, my feelings are mixed. I know it is time to leave and return to the United States, but there are many things that I will miss.

For the past 35 years I have served as the director at the Centre in Kumasi. Among a variety of administrative tasks, I oversee the sacristy and prayer room, teach, give homilies, and direct retreats. Additionally, I have travelled for programs in Nigeria, Ethiopia, Malawi, Uganda, and Zambia.

My life has been rich and exciting. I have enjoyed the Centre. It is a beautiful place, surrounded by trees, flowers, and shrubs. Every day there are fresh flowers in the chapel and prayer room and often in our dining room.

It took time to adjust to Ghanaian food, but I will miss some of it very much. I always look forward to fufu, rice balls, plantains, and beans. On the other hand, I still miss cottage cheese, turkey, and the varieties of ice cream made in the United States.

Though I still find it difficult to attend two and one-half hour to three-hour liturgies, I am grateful for the singing, dancing, and drumming that is part of them. Each Sunday I look forward to seeing the young families with their children and babies—several who were baptized in our chapel.

The Centre workers have become family to me. Through the kindness of our benefactors, BVM Ministry Partnership Grants, BVM sisters and their families, we have been able to help them in many ways.

Centre employees earn more than minimum wage, but salaries hardly enable workers to meet their needs. Recently, a 25-year employee did not have money to care for his sick wife. Without financial help, she would have died.

Many primary schools and secondary schools in Ghana are very poor. The aid we give enables workers who are parents to choose better schools for their children. In addition, Mary Frances Clarke Scholarships have helped some of the workers’ daughters finish college. Without scholarships, these young women would never have been able to attend university.

My ministry has been very meaningful. I hope to continue in some way in the future. I pray that God will be with my directees in the transition. I planned to return to Mount Carmel Bluffs in Dubuque, Iowa, this summer, but I have been asked to stay until the end of 2022 to facilitate the changeover. I have not yet decided what I will do.

My deepest hope is that our workers have what they need in the future. I hope the Centre will continue to be a place of welcome and prayer, that the quiet people seek will be found, and that the staff will reach out to those who come. I ask God’s blessing on our wonderful Archbishop who has been very supportive of me and the Centre and on all those whose lives I have touched . . . and those who have touched mine. I thank God for each of my 35 years in both Kumasi and Wa, Ghana.

About the author: Mary Anne Hoope, BVM, is the Director for the Centre for Spiritual Renewal Archdiocese of Kumasi, Ghana. She has also served at the Wanye Renewal Centre in Wa.


This story was featured in:

SUMMER 2022: Freed by Love: Acting for Justice

In this issue of Salt, we share how the BVMs continue to fight for causes at the Heart of BVM, such as access to affordable healthcare, protecting whistleblowers, leaving behind a healthy planet, and fighting for justice with the National Farm Worker Ministry (NFWM).

If you would like to receive Salt, contact the Office of Development for a complimentary subscription at development@bvmsisters.org or 563-585-2864.

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