Irish-Ghanaian Catholic Missionary, Father Andrew Campbell, recounted his difficult moments of praying for condemned prisoners before facing the firing squad in the 70s. Father Campbell spoke to Rev. Albert Ocran when he took his turn on the ‘Engine Room’ series on the Springboard, Your Virtual University, on Joy FM.
The immediate past Parish Priest of Christ the King Catholic Church reiterated how giving hope to prisoners, prostitutes, lepers, and the less privileged in society makes him fulfilled. “As the Chaplain for the Ussher and James forts prisons, I used to have mass, baptism class and served the prisoners with communion.”
“The hardest moment was when some of them were brought from Nsawam and other places for the firing squad. They lost hope and often questioned why they were going through those ordeals”, Father Campbell revealed.
He narrated how he prepared them spiritually by praying for them and taking them through confessions. “I remember one Easter Sunday morning sitting in the cell alone with one of the prisoners, the sun was coming through the window, and I had to give the man hope and encouragement. It was difficult,” he said.
Father Campbell was, however, quick to add that the prisoners were grateful anytime he prayed with them because they received hope and encouragement and were strengthened to face the firing squad.
As Founder of the Lepers Aid Committee, Father Campbell also spoke about what prompted his work with lepers, saying, “as a young priest at the Holy Spirit Cathedral at Adabraka in the 70s, I was working out in the garden of the church one morning when a healed leper showed up with a bag of mangoes as a gift for me. “I gave all of them out immediately because I thought I will get leprosy. But I later told myself this is not right, so I went out to Weija, and I was devastated when I saw the condition of the place, so I told myself this is what God has called me to do, and I decided to help them.”
Below are the lessons from Father Andrew Campbell’s interview
My life is inspired by Mother Teresa’s mantra, “Doing something beautiful for God.” My parents were a Godly inspiration.
When my savings for seminary fell short by £10, an anonymous donor sent me exactly £10 by post with a note to be a good priest.
I sailed on the 13-day journey to Ghana with little knowledge of Africa. My colleague returned after our early challenges, but I stayed on, and it’s now 50 years.
The first cured leper I met brought me mangoes in 1974. I almost ran away. Today, many call me the ‘leper priest’, and I actually live in Weija. But, we can still do better with stigma.
I literally ‘died’ of COVID on 11th July 2020, but God raised me and reminded me that I had unfinished work to do.
I don’t have a salary, car or bank account. I don’t need anything. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13)
One Sunday, two prostitutes I had ministered to the night before showed up in church. Showing empathy has gotten some of them off the streets.
I prayed with condemned prisoners at Usher Fort and James Fort just before being sent to the firing squad.
Jesus was POOR, OBEDIENT and CELIBATE. He didn’t marry, so I chose to live that way as an eschatological expression.
I survive temptation by constant prayer. I don’t want to focus on the WORK of the Lord and miss out on the LORD of the work.
SOURCE: My Joy Online