Home Page Home Page Events Events Photos Photos Diocese of Ogdensburg Home Page  
Follow Us on Facebook

Archives Father Torwoe: Spirit ‘continues to move me’

August 12, 2020

By Darcy Fargo

MASSENA – While he was a bit apprehensive before celebrating his first Mass as a priest, Father Severinus Torwoe said God helped him through the experience.

“The First Mass was wonderful,” said Father Torwoe, who was ordained Aug. 1 and is now serving as a parochial vicar at St. Peter’s Parish in Massena. “There was a kind of anxiety in me, and I was a bit afraid that I would make a mistake... A lot of people were there to join me. Meanwhile, I was praying that the Holy spirit should help me, and really the spirit of the Lord came and supported me. The only consolation I had was that it is not me who is celebrating, rather Jesus the High Priest, who is celebrating. I am just an instrument he is using. With these consoling words, I was able to celebrate my first Eucharistic Mass with great joy.”

Father Torwoe said his time serving as a deacon helped prepare him for his priestly ministry.

“I learned a lot,” he said. “I baptized three children. I made a confession practicum and a Mass practicum. I prepared myself a lot by reading Scripture to be familiar with the word of God. As a priest, there is a lot of preaching and teaching people. If I don’t know the Scriptures, I cannot give that to others.”

Father Torwoe said his time as a deacon also gave him opportunities to learn how to record baptisms and gave him experience visiting individuals in their homes and in hospitals.

“I was very excited to baptize three people,” he said, noting he celebrated the sacrament while serving in Ticonderoga. “They were all from the same family and were baptized at the same time. I thought, ‘these are the first fruits.’”

Father Torwoe said he is now excited to begin this new chapter of ministry.

“I have waited so many years to get to this day,” he said. “God has been so good to me. It’s a big responsibility. I’m not worthy, but I’m configured into the priesthood of Christ. God is calling me. He calls people who are not worthy. He calls sinners and people who are weak. It’s humbling that I’m weak, yet God is so interested in me and calling me.”

Father Torwoe said he hopes to devote his ministry to serving the people of God, especially those who have fallen away from the Church.

“My whole intention is to pray to the Lord to give me the grace to be an effective instrument,” he said. “I want to reach out to people who left the Church. I want to go for the lost sheep and bring them back. I want to help people see the importance of Church.”

Father Torwoe, a native of Ghana, said he was “disappointed” his family could not attend his ordination due to the pandemic, but he said he could see God working through the situation.

“It’s divine providence,” he said. “God knows why. Being missionaries, wherever you go, you’re part of that family. My family could not be here, but, in a way, the church in Ticonderoga and Massena has accepted me. When I’m with them, I feel like I’m with my family. The generosity of the people here has given me great comfort. I feel that I am home.”

In a previous interview, Father Torwoe noted that he felt called to serve God as a priest from a young age.

“At the age of 8, I got my call,” he said. “As the priest was celebrating Mass, I just felt like I was the one celebrating.”

The youngest in a family of 10, Father Torwoe said he grew up as part of a devout Catholic family.

“We were all brought up as Catholic children,” he said. “I have a brother who is a religious brother, a nephew who is a Redemptorist priest and another nephew in seminary.”

Father Torwoe said his family was not “financially sound,” and he couldn’t attend secondary school.

“I went to vocational school,” he said. “When I become a priest, I thought it would be good to be able to sew and make vestments, so I studied that for three years.”

After completing his vocational program, Father Torwoe re-focused on pursuing his vocation to the priesthood.

“I joined the Franciscan Friars of Africa in Ghana,” he said. “I took first vows in 1995. They sent me to high school. I also studied dress making, since they wanted me to continue with what I had already been studying. I was the only male with 35 girls, since I studied home economics.”

His bishop would later send him for more advanced studies in sewing and fashion design.

Serving communities in Ghana, he organized neighborhoods into parish communities, where churches were later established.

Later, the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal arrived in Ghana. While there was initially discussion of merging that group with the Franciscan Friars of Africa, the merger was never realized.

“I discussed with one of (the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal) that I wanted to be a priest,” Father Torwoe said. “He talked to director Holy Apostle seminary (in Connecticut). I came here as a brother among the brothers to be trained as a priest.”

After completing his studies, he returned to Ghana. There, no further steps were taken toward his ordination.

Then, when a new bishop arrived in his diocese, he severed ties with the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal.

“Since I had done my seminary formation here in the states, I applied to the director, asking him if I could come back to Holy Angels Seminary to continue my studies and discernment and look for a diocese. I came back in 2018 to do a post-master’s in theology and look for a diocese.”

It was through another priest he met that Father Torwoe became aware of the Diocese of Ogdensburg.

“I met a priest from Haiti, and he introduced me to this diocese,” he said. “I met Bishop Lucia, and he connected me with Bishop LaValley, who interviewed me.”

He said he saw unique challenges in the diocese that made him want to serve here.

“One thing interested me most: I went to the diocesan website, and I could see you have so many churches – 120 churches – but only 50 to 60 priests,” he said. “Out of the priests, most are senior citizens and taking care of three, four or five churches. It moved me so much. I told myself, ‘if these priests are getting to retirement age and still taking care of three to five churches, my services are needed here more.’ Bishop LaValley also asked me, ‘why Ogdenburg? Why not other big diocese in cities?’ I told him this is what motivated me – not enough priests, and the priests are aging.’”

He completed a pastoral assignment in Ticonderoga, which gave him an opportunity to become familiar with the North Country.

“It’s very beautiful here,” he said. “People are loving and nice to me. I like the fraternity of priests. I like that the lay faithful want to associate with you and know you more.”

Father Torwoe said he continues to follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit as he moves into his priesthood.

“When people say to me, ‘how did you come to Ogdensburg,’ I tell people, ‘you have to lift yourself like a piece of paper. The air blows you where it wills,’” he said. “The Holy Spirit blew me here. It’s that Spirit that continues to move me.”



North Country Catholic North Country Catholic is
honored by Catholic Press
Association of US & Canada

Copyright © Roman Catholic Diocese of Ogdensburg. All rights reserved.