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Very Rev. Fr Campbell; Lepers’ Priest, hope to the deprived

BY: Albert K. Salia
Very Rev. Father Andrew Campbell holding the book “The Lepers’ Priest”, during the visit.
Very Rev. Father Andrew Campbell holding the book “The Lepers’ Priest”, during the visit.

One person who stands out in the service to the deprived in the country is Irish-Ghanaian Catholic missionary, Very Rev. Fr Andrew Campbell (AC), a member of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD).

He recently retired as a Catholic priest having attained the mandatory age of 75, after 50 years of service to the church in Ghana. But the unassuming and humble Very Rev. Fr Campbell, also known as the Lepers’ Priest, is well known for his services to lepers and the homeless in the Ghanaian society.

Our Political Editor, Mr Albert K. Salia (AKS), caught up with him at his home at the Weija Leprosarium to know more about him; why he chose to come to Ghana for his missionary work and his experience with the people. The encounter was also to find out what he thought could be done to improve the welfare system for the deprived and to improve the relationship among Ghanaians, especially Christians and other religious organisations. The interview is reproduced below.

AKS: Good morning, Reverend Father Andrew Campbell, the Lepers’ Priest, the humanitarian priest and the epitome of humility.

AC: Good morning, Albert. Thank you very much for your thoughtfulness and kind words.

AKS: So, who is Reverend Father Andrew Campbell?

AC: Father Andrew Campbell was born on the March 27, 1946. It was a Wednesday and I am the second child of my mummy and daddy.

I had a young brother, particularly, he was a baby. He died a small little baby, he was a blue baby and he died just a few months old.

I had a sister, older than me. A year older. When I came to Ghana, I was only here for three months and I got word, a telegraph, that said she (my elder sister) was killed in a motorbike accident.

My mummy and daddy were the most wonderful parents.

I can honestly say we were the happiest family in the whole world. We were happy but we didn't have everything. But we had love. Mummy and daddy were such a wonderful couple in a wonderful marriage.

My mum was so kind, daddy was so kind and I can never forget that.

When my mummy died, and she was in the coffin, I took her wedding ring from her finger. I said daddy can I take the wedding ring? I want to put the wedding ring on my chalice and when my daddy died, and being the eldest in the family, I took my daddy's ring. So, on my chalice I have both my daddy's wedding ring and my mummy's wedding ring.

So, I remember them for what they have done for me. The love and care. They did so much for me, and we did not have everything. We didn't have a television for a long time and when I was growing up.

But these things didn't matter. It was that love and that care. The wonderful love and care from my family.

My mummy, unfortunately, she got a disease ..... paralysis. It paralysed her so she died when she was 51. I was about nine months in the seminary when she died. I used to pray that she'd be at my first Mass but she never made it for the first Mass. When I came to Ghana in 1971, my daddy died in 1976. He used to smoke so he got cancer of the lung and I was with him when he died in my arms. That was in 1976 but I can never forget both of them. I often dream of them as if they were alive. I go round with them. They meant so much to me. That's why it pains me when in Ghana, I see so many broken families.

Please read the full story in today's [Saturday, November 27, 2021] edition of the Daily Graphic newspaper or via Graphic NewsPlus App.