Father Joker

By Fr Joseph Panabang SVD

We noticed our hens didn’t want to lay their eggs in the baskets we had prepared for them. The parish priest, Fr Mietek Sagan SVD, from Poland, suggested we put one ping-pong ball in each basket to deceive them. It worked, only the color of the ping-pong ball is no longer immaculately white after being incubated twice.

By Fr Joseph Panabang SVD

We were bringing a woman in labor to Sekesua Clinic around 3:00 in the morning. The woman was writhing in pain shouting, ‘Eyoo, eyoo, eyoo’, the cry of Krobo women when in that situation. ‘That is what you get for tempting Adam. Just beat your husband sitting on your left’, I said teasingly. ‘For getting you in trouble,’ added Joseph Kweku-Duah, our catechist. 

Dancing here is more than merely entertainment. It is life. You must dance to justify your existence. Once I was asked to dance. While I was doing so people started throwing money at me, while others pinned bills on my shirt, all coming to ¢300 (cedis). Then they asked me how much I had spent for gasoline. ‘¢300’, I said. Then they added ¢20 more. So there went my first Ghanian dance, worth ¢320. Any challengers?

Father Joeker

By Fr Joseph Panabang SVD

In Nchiraa village, a Methodist choirmaster died. I was asked on the spot to give a homily during his funeral held on a stage in an open field. I was not prepared and my first thought was to look for an exit or, at least, an excuse. After struggling with my introduction, it began to rain heavily. The people began to disperse when I exploded: ‘Death is like the rain. When it rains, life comes to standstill. When death comes, life too comes to a standstill,’ and I ran for cover myself. I think that was the best homily I ever gave. When it rains here, especially in the villages, literally, there is no work, no Church services, no classes . . .

By Fr Joseph Panabang SVD


A Catholic woman was bitten by a deadly poisonous snake at Njao, one of my outstations.  Rushed to the hospital she survived.  ‘While being carried what did you do?’ I asked her during the catechism class. ‘I placed my rosary in my mouth, Father.’

The catechist turned to me saying, ‘Now, I understand why she said a while ago she could not pray then’.

Close Association

Browny, my lively dog, wagged his tail excitedly while jumping on me, expecting some bones. ‘Browny, you are so smelly!’ I yelled. ‘Yes, Father,’ a voice replied from the kitchen.  It was Mary Yaa Abrafi, our cook.

By Fr Joseph Panabang SVD


During our Renewal Course in Steyl, Holland, our group was to report last. ‘That’s good,’ I thought, ‘since many things would have been reported already.  I’ll just shorten my report.’ ‘You must report all the details even if they have been reported already,’ said Fr Peter McHugh SVD, our professor, who at once read my intentions. Luckily, while I was reporting, photographers of Steyl Mission Magazine, Stat Gottes, barged in to take pictures of our class, distracting my audience. Saved by the bell!

BOSSing around

One talk in the Nemi Renewal Course was on how to express anger.  I shared with the group that in Japan, there’s a replica of the Boss in the basement of a particular factory.  Workers who dislike or get annoyed with the Boss can go down and ‘pulverize’ his replica with kicks and Manny Pacquiao-like punches.  After that they feel better and go back to work again.  Coming to the point I said, ‘Imagine you’re a tennis player and see the ball as the head of someone whom you simply don’t get along with, you’ll certainly hit it like a mad man . . .  Everybody will befriend you’.

Gone Batty

That Sunday, the gospel reading was about the cure of the demoniac. During the homily, a fearful noise was created by a flock of small bats flying from the ceiling of the church as if the roof was falling down. Looking up I screamed, ‘Those are the evil spirits running away.’ The adults and children laughed as the catechist interpreted what I said.

By Fr Joseph Panabang SVD


A group of Australian youth, whose organization has been helping many parishes in Ghana, came to visit some of their projects. After an exchange of pleasantries, I learned that they were staying for four weeks and were all new to the country. Welcoming them at Kintampo, I said, ‘Four weeks is long enough to get malaria. Just try to survive the first attack because it’s the most dangerous.’ They looked as if they wanted to leave Ghana that same day.