UP Catholic 03 04 2016 E Edition Page 8

8 March 4, 2016 THE U.P. CATHOLIC www.upcatholic.org Upper Peninsula Travelers Presents MACKINAC ISLAND 5 Days, 4 Nights - June 6 - 10, 2016 - $549 Price includes: Transportation, Lodging, many meals, a cruise through the Soo Locks, Point Iroquois Lighthouse, ferryboat to Mackinac Island, Tour the island by horse drawn carriage, Arch Rock, Lilac Lane, Grand Buffet at the Grand Hotel, Tour Mackinaw City, Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse, Mackinaw Crossings, Colonial Michilimackinac-1700's era village and more. For information & Reservations contact Sheila Heikkinen (906) 524-7003 or shebob123@charter.net ALTARED COMETH! Does your organization or business want to reach teens and young adults? Advertise with us! 1-866-452-5112 upc@new.rr.com BY JOHN FEE THE U.P. CATHOLIC At the age of five he received his name, Dominic, and baptism from a priest he believes was inspired by the Holy Spirit. Now he's a missionary priest in the Diocese of Marquette. Father Dominic Agyapong, assistant pastor of St. Peter Cathedral in Marquette was originally named Seth by his father, who died just two months later. His family were Pentecostal Christians in Ghana. When he was three, the future priest's mother de- cided to remarry and sent her son to live with his 75-year-old grandmother. The youngster was more than his grandmother could handle, so she changed his birth year from 1980 to 1978 and enrolled him in the first grade at the age of four. With his grandmother suffering failing health, young Seth was put in the care of his aunt, who was married to a Catholic catechist. It wasn't long before he would become Catholic. During Holy Saturday Mass, with 250 children being baptized, I was left in the pew crying, said Father Agyapong, recalling this pivotal moment in his life. The crying was so loud the priest called and asked why I was crying. I said I wanted to be part of those in front. I wanted to receive what they were receiving. The priest baptized me to keep me quiet, he said with a laugh. The priest was inspired and changed my name to Dominic, Father Agyapong said. Dominic means I belong to God. Father Agyapong explained that he grew up living with extended family in a village in Ghana. He devel- oped a love for the people and wanted to help them, but also was exposed to some unsavory types there. I belong to God indeed, because I would have been killed, Father Agyapong said. God protected me. After middle school, the young Agyapong wanted to enter a minor seminary. He scored second out of 250 applicants on the entrance exam, but there was no money for tuition. Instead, he went to a local high school, graduating in 1998 and entering major sem- inary the next year to become a priest. He was ordained in 2008. In 2012 he be- came pastor of a parish made up of seven poor communities. Even though the assignment would be difficult, Father Agyapong said he saw it as an opportunity to help the villagers. Among the needs of the village were running water for drinking, bathing and restroom facilities and a medical clinic. I decided to use my influ- ence to build a health clinic for the communi- ty, he said. Villagers have to walk or be carried miles for medi- cal assistance. The area has no ambulances so women in labor, children and farmers with injuries or those suffering malaria and fevers have a very difficult time receiving medical attention, Father Agyapong ex- plained. The clinic project got underway, with the villagers and pastor providing the labor. Construction of the St. Mary Clinic reached the point of being ready to have a roof installed when Father Agyapong was asked by his bishop to come to the U.P. as a mission- ary last fall. After three days of prayer, the African priest consented. The faith formation department at St. Peter Cathe- dral in Marquette, where Father Agyapong has been serving since November, is raising funds for the clinic as a Lenten project, named We're Ghana Raise the Roof. Jenny Lochner, faith formation coordinator, said the project involves prayer, fasting and almsgiv- ing. Supporters can pray for the project's success, fast from something extravagant and give the money saved to build the clinic. The goal is to raise $15,000 by Easter to cover the cost of the roof. The foundation, loor and walls are already in place. All the youth in faith formation have re- ceived Ghana Bowls, similar to the annual CRS Rice Bowls to save money in, Lochner said. Programs have been implemented that will appeal to elemen- tary, middle and high school students. Contribution envelopes are also available and the parish has teamed up with an orga- nization that works with the project to make contri- butions tax deductible. Reflecting on his new home in the Upper Peninsula, Father Agyapong said, I love the generosity, kind- ness and the faith they have, their prayer life and their willingness to listen to me, even though I have a strong accent. He added, I thank Bishop John (Doerfler) for his appointment to work at the cathedral. I also thank Msgr. Michael (Steber) for his love and teaching as well as the parishioners for their generosity and kindness. I'm looking forward to Good Samaritans to help me complete my project for my village in Ghana. Anyone wishing to learn more or to help the clinic may contact Jenny Lochner by email at jlochner@ stpetercathedral.org. Checks may be made out to St. Peter Cathedral with Ghana Clinic noted in the memo section and mailed to 311 West Baraga Ave., Marquette, MI 49855. They're 'Ghana' raise the roof PHOTO COURTESY OF FATHER DOMINIC AGYAPONG Father Dominic Agyapong is surrounded by children in Ghana. The associate pastor of St. Peter Cathedral in Marquette is working to build a medical clinic for villagers in his home country.

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