The solemn ambiance of the Christ the King Catholic Church in Accra bore profound grief as Parishioners bid farewell to one of their own; Mrs Theresa Aba Kufuor, a former First Lady.
The Requiem Mass, preceding the final funeral rites of the former First Lady, cast a hushed stillness over mourners, who had gathered to pay their last respects to Mrs Kuffuor.
Dignitaries, seated in pews with heads bowed and in sombre unity, stared at the remains of Mrs Kufuor as the Mass Choir of Christ the King, which she belonged, mournfully sang “the day Thou gavest, Lord, is ended”, “When the day of toil is done”, among other soothing dirges, drawing tears from unknown depths.
Following the Mass officiated by the Most Reverend John Banaventure Kwafie, Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Accra, a slow and dignified procession unfolded as her casket adorned with national colours, became the focal point of the poignant display by an eight-member burial party from the Ghana Airforce.
Two other Airforce officers sounded the bugle call in honour to signify the end of Mrs Kufuor’s journey on earth as the military pallbearers gently wheeled the casket down the aisle through the Nave of the Parish.
The slow and deliberate pace resonated with the gravity of the occasion – the passing of a former First Lady of Ghana and a Parishioner who had worshipped with the Church since 1969 after moving to Accra with her husband.
Dignitaries, including former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo; Madam Akosua Frema Osei-Opare, Chief of Staff, former Defence Minister; Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, former Minister of Food and Agriculture; Papa Owusu-Amkomah, Ghana’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom; Mr Hackman Owusu-Agyemang, former Minister of Water, Works and Housing; Mr Ambrose Dery, Minister of the Interior; some Ministers of State, Members of Parliament, NPP stalwarts and Pastors filed past the remains of Mrs Kuffour, laid motionless with a rosary.
Her husband, former President John Agyekum Kufuor, watched the Requiem Mass virtually at his home in Peduase, while his children, grandchildren and other family members took turns to file past the remains of their mother and grandmother.
The collective sadness in the Church, for a leader who had left an indelible mark as First Lady of the Republic of Ghana, was telling.
The Church’s solemnity mirrored the profound loss of a matriarch who for many years had played significant roles in the church’s development but was ever dedicated to the Choir even in her frailty at a point.
In 2010, the Vatican bestowed on her the award of Papal Dame of the Order of Saint Gregory the Great for her dedication to the Catholic Church.
“We bid farewell to a mother figure and confident of unparalleled greatness. Oh, how we shall miss you dear mummy for your boundless generosity, your warmth, your infectious smile, and your spirit of camaraderie that enveloped us in your presence,” the Mass Choir said in a tribute to Mrs Kufuor, who joined the choir as a volunteer among 40 others on the first Sunday of Lent in 1995 at the request of the Parish Priest then.
A tribute by the Church written by Monsignor Stephen Adu-Kwaning, a former Parish Priest, extolled Mrs Kufuor’s dedication to the Church and her relentless service to Christ even at the point of death.
“Mrs Kuffour served as the first Vice President of the Marian and was instrumental to its growth. When her husband became President of Ghana, she transitioned from Vice President to Patron of the Choir and remained actively involved. She contributed her time and talent to the glory of the Lord and the growth of the Marian Choir.”
The former Christ the King Parish Priest said despite her duties as First Lady, she continued to support the Choir during masses and contributed significantly to its growth.
Though frail at a point and unable to attend regular Choir practices, the church said, she continued to sit amongst the choir each time she attended Mass and gave moral support during liturgical celebrations.
“Auntie Aba was a beautiful soul who loved to sing praises to God. She was a faithful and dedicated member of the choir for nearly three decades,” Msgr Adu-Kwaning said.
“She had a sweet and gentle voice that touched the hearts of everyone who met her. While we will miss her dearly, our faith assures us that Mrs Kufuor is now in the presence of her saviour,” the Parish said.
Very Rev. Fr. Ebenezer Akesseh, Parish Priest, Christ the King Catholic Church, in a homily, said, Mrs Theresa Aba Kufuor stayed true to her Catholic faith and always carried her cross in ways that brought glory to God.
He said, “Sometimes in the midst of our crosses, we tend to turn away from God…the beauty of life always comes through not how we celebrate our victories but how we go through the troubles that come our way.”
In the former First Lady’s case, the Parish Priest said her faith never waned as she still carried her cross and her rosary all through her life.
The beauty of faith, Fr Akesseh noted, was that it gave Christians a reason to hope, requiring them to exercise it fully in ways that others could remember and exercise theirs.
“Faith should be expressed into the community of the faithful; real faith is not personal but communal.”
“The community dimension of faith is as important as your personal exercise of it; and Mrs Kufuor expressed that,” he said.
Fr. Akesseh stressed that, “When God elevates you to a certain position and blesses the work of your hands, don’t let your faith suffer…For her humility was key and so she exercised it for the benefit of the poor and marginalised.”
Mrs Theresa Aba Kufuor, born on 25 October 1935 in Kumasi, passed away peacefully at her family house in Peduase on October 1, 2023.
She will be laid to rest in Kumasi on November 18, 2023, after a State Funeral at the forecourt of the State House on Thursday, November 16, 2023.