HISTORY OF SANTA BARBARA PARISH, AKOSOMBO
Politically, the Santa Barabara parish is located in the Asuogyaman District of the Eastern region of Ghana.
The Akosombo town was practically uninhabited prior to the commencement of the Volta River Project. The township came into existence as a result of the construction of the Akosombo Dam.
The Italian Contractors, Impregilo who arrived in the last quarter of the year 1961 to undertake the construction of the dam started the Roman Catholic Movement in Akosombo in January 1962, and were later joined by some Ghanaians Catholics who also came to the town as a result of the construction.
The construction of the Santa Barbara Chapel and its subsequent dedication by the then Archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini on 8th August 1962 marked the official establishment of the Roman Catholic Church in Akosombo. The Chapel was constructed within 21 days to meet the arrival of Cardinal Montini, who was invited to pray for the success of the Akosombo Dam project.
Rev. Fr. J. Guissipe Betta, an Italian priest was the first pastor assigned to the parish. A Ghanaian female parishioner, the late Mad. Justine Dartey-Woedi had the honour of being the first Ghanaian to toll the church bells. The nearest Roman Catholic community then was St. Anthony Catholic Church, now St. Christopher Catholic Church, Atimpoku which had been planted earlier by two British Staff (Messrs Hargrow and Freeman) of Dorman Long Engineering Company during the construction of the Adomi Bridge in 1955.
The Akosombo Roman Church continued in earnest; however the faithful in Community 2 (downtown) were finding it quite strenuous to journey to Community 1 (Mess) for worship due to the long distance and hilly nature of the route. Fr. Betta sometimes had to come down from Mess to convey some of the faithful in a pickup truck.
In order to reduce the stress on church members in Community 2, Fr. Betta constructed a temporary place of worship opposite the Mobil Filling station (now Total), at the crest of the hill. The first Catechist Mr. Raphael Nunoo was resident there and run catechism classes for new converts. Weekday masses and prayers were held there but everybody attended Sunday Mass at Santa Barbara Chapel up on the hill in Community One.
A BRIEF LINK OF THE SANTA BARBARA CATHOLIC CHURCH TO THE AKOSOMBO DAM
“A Monument Of Nations Working Together, A Symbol Of The Brotherhood Of Nations, A Sign Of Peace And Progress .....” (Cardinal Giovanni Montini) That is how the late Pope Paul VI (26th September, 1897 – 6th August, 1978), envisioned the growing Volta Dam at Akosombo in his Sermon when he (then Cardinal Montini) blessed the St. Barbara Chapel on the 8th August 1962.
The Santa Barbara Catholic Church (Community One), Akosombo, is the first major monument built on the soils of Akosombo by Impregilo Contractor of the Akosombo Dam as a place of worship for the workers who were Catholics, and for seeking God’s intervention and direction during the construction of the Dam. The church was constructed in 1962, within twenty-one (21) days to meet the visit of Cardinal Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini, the then Archbishop of Milan, Italy who invited purposely to pray over the dam site and the workers. The church was dedicated to the glory of God on the 8th of August, 1962, and named after Santa Barbara, the patron saint of the contractors.
It is worth noting, that, Cardinal Giovanni Montini who performed the dedication and prayed for the successful construction of the Akosombo Dam, was a few months later elected pope, after the death of his predecessor, Pope John XXIII in June 1963, and took the name Pope Paul VI. He died on the 6th of August, 1978.
Significantly eye-catching in the frontage of the first Santa Barbara chapel is a Cross purposely erected to face and directly overlook the centre of the Akosombo Dam. The positioning of this cross in accordance with Cardinal Montini’s prayer is indicative of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’s permanent Divine protection over the Dam during and after its construction.
The following six stations make up the Santa Barbara Parish:
St Anthony of Padua
St Joseph husband of Mary
Our Lady of Assumption
MASS SCHEDULES (AKOSOMBO)
Tuesdays and Thursdays... 5.30AM
Wednesdays and Fridays (Youth Mass).....6.00PM
Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays ...8.00am to 1.00pm
Thursdays... 9.00am to 2.00pm
First Saturdays of every month
Thursdays before First Fridays of every month
Rev Fr. Eric Evans Yaw Akahoho is currently the Priest In-charge.