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Brief History of St. Teresa’s Seminary, Amisano

It all began on February 14, 1930, when a total of twelve (12) young men were transferred to Amisano (which had a teacher training college) from Elmina, where they were receiving preliminary tuition as a way of preparing them for the priesthood. Two (2) out of the initial twelve, made it to the end and were ordained on November 8, 1935 as the first indigenous clergy of the Gold Coast (Ghana) to serve the Roman Catholic Church in Ghana.

The Council of the Vicariate decided in May 1930 that the two institutions should be considered as two separate entities, the seminary governed the Rector and the training college under the direction of the Principal. Accordingly, on May 20, 1930 Msgr. Hermann laid the foundation stone for the seminary at the estimated cost of £1,600. Fr. Robbens was named the first Rector of the Seminary.

For many years, the Missionary Fathers from Holland and Ireland took care of the formation of seminarians due to the significance which the Church attached to the priestly ministry. Later, laymen were also introduced to the staff to draw the ecclesial balance at the formative stages.

In January 1930, a decision was taken to prepare seminarians in the Gold Coast for the Cambridge School Certificate. On account of this, the seminary timetable was restructured, subjects re-allocated and relevant books ordered so that the program could begin. In 1934, new faces appeared on the staff which included Mr. Francis K. Nkrumah of Axim (later to become the first President of the Republic of Ghana). He himself stated in his autobiography:

“…I went to teach at the Roman Catholic Seminary at Amisano near Elmina.
This was a new institution and it was the first time that the Roman Catholic
Church had established such a place in this country to train its own clergy. It
was an honour to be the first teacher of the Gold Coast appointed to train
these young men in their preliminary studies for this great vocation…For, as
a teacher of these young novices, I too had to observe the strict rules of the
seminary and my life at Amisano was quiet and lonely…but it was certainly
during this period that at the seminary that I regained the religious fervor
to such an extent that I formed the idea of taking the vocation to the
priesthood myself…”

(The Autobiography of Kwame Nkrumah, Thomas Nelson & Sons Ltd. London, pp 21-22)

However, Mr. Nkrumah resigned as a staff member in 1935 and embarked for America to pursue a course at Lincoln University of Chester County, Pennsylvania.

All this while, formation of priests and training of teachers had existed side by side at Amisano. In 1935, the remarkable thing happened. The foundation stone of St. Augustine’s College was laid signifying the gradual break-up of the strong relationship between the College and the Seminary at Amisano.

In its history, Amisano did not only contribute to ecclesial and national life but had a hand in the international politics of the time. The seminary grounds became the barracks of the Royal Air Force in 1940s.

On December 11, 1949, Rev. John K. Amissah was ordained to the priesthood. He was retained to serve on the staff of the seminary until he was named the auxiliary bishop and later the first African Archbishop of Cape Coast till his untimely death in 1991.

Until quite recently, all the other dioceses in Ghana trained their priests at Amisano where both the Major and Minor Seminaries were located. In 1957, major seminary formation was relocated to Pedu in Cape Coast.

Apart from being a place of formation, Amisano has been a place for pilgrimages for most of the parishes in the Archdiocese of Cape Coast.