Diocese of Dodge City welcomes
priest from Ghana
Father Matthew Kumi, reared in a community without
electricity, recounts moon-lit nights with friends,
helping area farmers
By DAVID MYERS
Southwest Kansas Register
When asked to share his favorite memory of growing up in West Africa, Father Matthew Kumi, the newest priest to grace the Diocese of Dodge City, drew a wide smile and recalled moon-lit nights in his native Ghana.
“The whole community didn’t have electricity,” he said. “So, in the night, when the moon was up, we would gather around and play games, sing songs, all kinds of things.” Father Matthew, 44, arrived in Dodge City June 29 and will serve for one year at St. Mary and St. Dominic parishes in Garden City, as well as St. Stanislaus Parish in Ingalls, before returning to the Diocese of Goaso in Ghana, West Africa. Prior to coming to Kansas he spent three years at the Athenaeum (seminary) in Cincinnati where he earned a Master’s Degree in Pastoral Counseling.
Father Matthew was ordained in 1999. Like his father before him, he discovered he had a love for teaching. Before coming to the United States, he spent several years teaching in high school, junior high and grammar schools.
“One of my priorities is to help form and develop the minds of children, to guide them so that they know what they are supposed to do, especially when they become adults,” he said.
“What God has given to us adults is purposeful. He wants us to give that gift back to the children, so that when we are not there they can be very productive; they can be very good adults for themselves, for the nation, and for God.”
Father Matthew’s father died in 2006 after having served both as a teacher and a farmer. While his father was at work on the weekdays, his mother – without the use of any farm machinery – tended to their land, as she still does today.
“I grew up in a little town called Bomaa,” Father Matthew said. “Basically, the folks out there are farmers. So, I used to accompany my parents to farm. I know what farming is all about -- how to clear the land; planting; sowing; taking food items from the farm. The difference is, out there we don’t have the machines. We used manual -- our hands.”
During the summer when he was out of school, he and four or five friends would visit a different family each day whom they would help with farming.
“One day we would come to your mother’s farm and work for you and for your family; the next day we would gather again and go to another place. By one week, we have done so much for all the different families. We call it a ‘help’. I did it for so many years. It gave the mothers and the parents a kind of support, a hope, a kind of love from the children.”
Father Matthew couldn’t pinpoint a time or place where he first heard the calling to become a priest. He said there was no urging, no pressure to enter seminary, just a soft whisper that never left him, even as his friends went in different directions.
“After high school, I began to understand a bit more about the priesthood. I said Oh, this is what it is about. This is nice. But, my friends are going this way. Should I follow them, or stick to my plan? So it was kind of challenging.”
He said that the soft whisper – that calling – continues to this day.
“We have never finished answering the call,” he said. “Yes, I’m ordained, but I still am answering the call. I’m still responding. I’m a priest, yet, day in and day out, I give concentration to this call that I have responded to. So, I am still answering it.”
One of the interesting answers given by priests from other countries has to do with the question of their hobbies. Answers have included everything from basketball, to ping-pong, to simply picking up a good book. Father Matthew didn’t disappoint.
“I like to take a walk when the time is conducive,” he said. “When I take a walk, I look at everything. I try to see a higher power in everything around me, including human beings and the things human beings are able to use their hands to create, to fashion, to put together. Even plants, the colors, how they flower. Even the animals we see, the way the topography has been shaped. The terrain. And at any point, the speed of the wind blowing. I try to pay attention to all this. I look at it as a hobby. I look at it deeply.”
Then, after a pause, he added with a grin, “Or you can just say I like to read.”