First Bishop of Yendi breaks bread with Notre Dame community

Document Type

Media Release

Publication Date

Spring 6-11-2012

Publisher Name

The University of Notre Dame Australia

Publication Place



The challenges of spreading the Word of God in a community beset by poverty and ethno-religious violence was recently discussed by Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Yendi, Ghana, at The University of Notre Dame Australia's Fremantle Campus.

A partnership between Notre Dame and Catholic Mission saw Most Reverend Vincent Boi-Nai SVD speak and interact with guests at the Conversations on Tap event on Wednesday, October 31.

He discussed the breaking of bread with the dead from a personal context in the lead up to the Feasts of All Saints and All Souls during the Catholic Church's month of remembrance.

Called by Pope John Paul II to be the first Bishop of the newly established diocese of Yendi in 1999, Bishop Vincent paid homage to the Church's brothers and sisters who laid the foundations of faith, peace and justice which are present in the Catholic community today.

He said breaking bread with the dead was about recognising the faithful legacy of the Church's ancestors and sharing their special gifts with others.

"These ancestors of faith are dedicated men and women who are inspired by God to dedicate their lives in striving to establish the reign of God's peace, love, justice, mercy and compassion here on Earth," Bishop Vincent said.

"These are the people who have given up their lives for the sake of humanity and to give the community an opportunity to hear God."

Yendi, a majority Muslim town located in north-eastern Ghana close to the Togolese border, was the site of an inter-ethnic conflict between two native groups – the Dagombas and Konkombas – in 1994. The Church was accused of supporting the Kokombas and, as a result, the Yendi Cathedral was vandalised and three of the church's vehicles were incinerated.

Several years after Bishop Vincent's arrival, Yendi was embroiled in another conflict after the ruler of the Dagomban group, Ya Naa Yakubu Andani II, was murdered along with 30 other people in clashes between rival factions.

In order to establish a culture of peace, he devised a program based on progressing communication and understanding between the cultural groups of Yendi. Bishop Vincent was awarded the 2008 Martin Luther King Jr. Award for Peace and Social Justice by the US Embassy for his work in this area.

While the landscape has calmed somewhat over the past decade, Bishop Vincent said struggles against disease, illiteracy and poverty still existed, and the evangelisation of God's message was still a daily challenge.

"What I realised was that I could not preach the Word of God to people who were fighting and did not have peace of mind," Bishop Vincent said.

"Because the majority of students attending Catholic schools comprise different faiths, evangelisation needs to be delivered very carefully given the tensions that could be aroused when certain groups have a perception that the schools may pose a threat to their cultural structures.

"These challenges are still present and we're trying to tackle them step by step."

Fremantle Campus Minister, Tom Gannon, said the University was privileged to have had a distinguished and well respected member of the Catholic community speak at Conversations on Tap.

"It is remarkable to have the first bishop of a diocese come to Notre Dame and share stories of what it is like to be a foundation bishop," Mr Gannon said.

"Five years ago, Ghana founded a Catholic university and the challenges and hope that is associated with that creation reminds our community that God's goodness comes from sharing resources. "We were delighted to collaborate with Catholic Mission on this discussion and to increase the profile of the good work that is going on in Catholic institutions and missions around the country."

The Conversations on Tap events at Notre Dame seek to create a forum to discuss topics of interest with community members based on the thoughts, dialogue and personal accounts of special guests.

MEDIA CONTACT: Michelle Ebbs: Tel (08) 9433 0610; Mob 0408 959 138 Leigh Dawson: Tel (08) 9433 0569; Mob 0405 441 093