At the St. Kizito Pastoral Center, Sister Evelyn Ntiamoah, CSC, teaches human development and counseling classes to a gathering of catechists-in-training. The courses are part of a collection of faith formation and community-building programs recently initiated at the site, in the Sekondi-Takoradi Diocese of Ghana, West Africa.
Sister Evelyn’s connection with the center and its former director, Sister M. Madeline Therese (Wilhoit), CSC, (deceased), reaches back to 1997, before she entered the Congregation. Seeking work experience after completing school, her quest led her to Sister Madeline Therese’s doorstep and a volunteer secretarial position that she served in for a year.
Soon after resuming her education, however, she received a request from her former supervisor. Sister Madeline Therese, who served as director of the local Catechetical Institute, was preparing to open the St. Kizito Catechetical Training Center, a new site for religious education, and wanted Evelyn to be a part of the endeavor.
Falling in love with Holy Cross
Evelyn, then 22 years old, accepted the offer and came on as Sister Madeline’s personal secretary working on her advanced studies and her job concurrently.
As daily companions, the women’s relationship grew and deepened, as did Evelyn’s admiration for religious life. Recognizing her friend’s interest, Sister Madeline Therese invited her to congregational gatherings and celebrations. In those encounters, Evelyn received blessings that moved her to pursue a religious vocation.
“I fell in love with Holy Cross because of the family spirit,” said Sister Evelyn, who entered the Congregation in 2000.
The catechetical center thrived under Sister Madeline Therese’s direction, but in 2000 she was called back to the United States to serve in another ministry. Over time, due to lack of personnel, the center fell into disrepair and its work dissolved.
Then, in 2015, Sister Evelyn, who had earned formal training as a social worker and counselor while serving in the Archdiocese of Cape Coast, received a surprising call. The newly appointed bishop of the Secondi-Takoradi Diocese was looking for Holy Cross sisters to collaborate with the diocese to revitalize and manage its once-productive catechetical center.
“I was out of words and did not know what to do,” she said. “I never dreamt [I would] be going back to the same center where I started with Sister Madeline Therese.”
Building a community of justice and love
Today, in the care of Father John Attah-kruh, director, Sister Evelyn, assistant director, and Holy Cross Sisters Scholastica Elizabeth Ampadu, Lilian Briege Awino and Cynthia Godia Bienaan, the center is seeing a revival. With the aim of “building communities of justice and love,” Sister Evelyn said, the center provides both spiritual and social training and support to the people of the diocese. Programs emphasize the ideal of good relationships — rooted in compassion and mercy. Religious education classes are offered as are social and counseling services which address topics ranging from personal health to spousal relationships, and provide education to help alleviate material poverty and gender discrimination.
“I am passionate about the youth ministry because it always reminds me of my past,” Sister Evelyn said. Recalling the love and compassion she received from Sister Madeline Therese, Sister Evelyn also “feels the need to encourage, inspire, challenge and motivate [others].…When I encounter the youth, I share with them my own story,” she said. “I believe there are many young people out there who are searching for their vocation, and need someone to encourage them.”