Memorial Mass to be held for Ghanian priest who served in Archdiocese of Dubuque

By Dan Russo

Witness Editor

DUBUQUE — A visiting priest from Ghana who died while attempting to return to his home country will be honored with a memorial Mass in Dubuque July 23.

Father Philip Mensah, 58, of the Archdiocese of Cape Coast, had recently completed several years of service in the Archdiocese of Dubuque. His journey back to Africa was interrupted due to coronavirus travel restrictions. With Ghana’s borders closed, Father Mensah became ill while staying with relatives in Baltimore, Maryland. He died there June 15 after being hospitalized, according to a message from Archbishop Michael Jackels that was sent to the priests of the archdio­cese July 4.

“Father Anthony (Adawu) at Mount Mercy will travel to Baltimore to bring the cremated remains of Father Philip back here, for safe-keeping until the borders re-open in Ghana,” explained Archbishop Jackels.

Father Adawu, who serves as chaplain at Mt. Mercy University in Cedar Rapids, is also a priest from the Archdiocese of Cape Coast.

“Father Philip was a dedicated priest and principled man,” stated Father Anthony Adawu when reflecting on his departed colleague. “He loved justice and fairness, which he pursued fervently throughout his life and ministry. Father  Mensah also was a charismatic leader and well-loved by the people he served and whose lives he touched. May he rest in the peace of the Lord, who gave him to us as a precious gift.”

Father Mensah had tested positive for COVID-19, but the cause of death is unknown at this point, according to Father Adawu.

The archbishop encouraged clergy to attend the memorial Mass scheduled for 10 a.m. July 23 at St. Columbkille Parish. There will be no burial and no funeral luncheon afterwards. There will also be a Memorial Mass in Maryland on July 14, according to Father Adawu.

Father Philip Mensah was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Cape Coast, Ghana in 1991, reported Father Adawu. He served in a parish for a a few years and then joined the Ghana Armed Forces as a chaplain.

“He faithfully served the church and his country, retiring as a lieutenant colonel,” said Father Adawu.

After coming to the Archdiocese of Dubuque in 2017, Father Mensah lived at the St. Columbkille Parish rectory and minister­ed at St. Joseph Parish in Key West. He was also chaplain at Stonehill Franciscan Services in Dubuque.

There are currently seven priests from Ghana serving in the Archdiocese of Dubuque, according to the 2019-2020 Archdiocesan Directory.