Education and Health in Pastoral Ministry: a Study of Bishop Joseph Oliver Bowers SVD, Catholic Diocese of Accra (1953-1971)


In recent years, the religious dimension of life has become a central issue in development discourse, but it has been generally ignored or dismissed by development policy-makers. Recent events, however, suggest that religion has become an important force in the world. Religion shows no sign of diminishing in public importance as some development theorists have universally claimed. In fact, in Africa, religion constitutes the foundation of upliftment and transformation of lives. In effect, evidence abounds that the religious dimension of life has contributed immensely to integral human development in Ghana, specifically in the fields of education and health. It is against this background that the study investigated how Bishop Bowers contributed to integral human development in Ghana through the establishment of educational institutions and health facilities. The study employed qualitative research methods and approaches to generate novel insights into phenomena that were difficult to quantify, which emerged from data. The study area is the Accra Diocese at the time of Bishop Bowers (1953 to 1971). Data was collected and collated using the snowball technique. Focus Group Discussions were conducted at Pope John Seminary and Senior High, Koforidua (a boys’ school), and St Rose’s Senior High, Akwatia (a girls’ school) and with the Handmaids of the Divine Redeemer of Accra Convent, Agomanya (the house of elderly nuns). Archival material from Robert M. Myers Archives, Techny, USA; SVD Guest House, Accra; St. Dominikus Institut, Speyer, Germany of OP Sisters; Accra Archdiocesan Archives, and the Ghana National Archives, Accra were consulted. For personal observation, visits were paid to six schools (Pope John’s Minor Seminary and Senior High School at Koforidua, St. Peter’s Senior High School at Nkwatia, St Martin’s Senior High School at Adoagyiri, St. Rose’s Senior High School at Akwatia, and St. Anne Vocational Institute at Nuaso) and four hospitals (St. Dominic Hospital at Akwatia, Battor Catholic Hospital at Battor, St. Joseph Hospital in Koforidua, and St. Martin’s Hospital at Agom-anya. The data generated from the narratives of the interviewees and archival material was analyzed and organized into themes. The findings of the study reveal that Bowers’ upbringing and formative years impacted his ministry as a Bishop. This translated into his concern for the holistic development of every person and the whole person. Furthermore, the research revealed that religion is a key element in development discourse in Ghana and that religion has always affected the socio-economic and political life of Ghanaians. Lastly, it revealed that the Roman Catholic Church in Ghana has promoted integral human development through the establishment of educational and health facilities.


MPhil Study of Religions


Bishop Bowers, Integral Human Development, Spirituality, Pastoral Ministry