2019 Shining Stars: Ghanaian Catholics Lead Hymns of Praise

Tags: Currents Brooklyn, NY, Diocese of Brooklyn, Diocese of Immigrants, Ghana, Immigrants, Music Ministry, Shining Stars

By Tim Harfmann

Albert and Elaine Tontoh spend their weekends serving the Church in song.

Albert plays the keyboard. Elaine leads the choir at Saint Catherine of Genoa Church in East Flatbush, Brooklyn.

For their dedicated service — they are two of this year’s Shining Stars.

“It’s an honor not only to us, but it’s basically giving glory to God for even acknowledging us through His people in His Church,” said Elaine.

Receiving a Shining Star is a prestigious honor. The awards are presented annually by the Diocese of Brooklyn’s Catholic Migration Services and go to Catholics who are active in their ethnic ministries.

“We cannot worship without music, especially in our African culture,” said Father Anselmus Mawusi, coordinator of the Ghanaian apostolate. “We worship, we dance, and we pray; and everything that we do in our culture is all about music,” he added regarding the Tontoh’s vital role in the Church.

Albert and Elaine met while leading a children’s choir in Ghana. They have lived in the United States for eight years.

Albert works in the pharmaceutical industry. Elaine is a student, earning her doctorate degree in economics, while teaching part-time at Fordham University.

Though they have busy schedules, they revolve their lives around the Church.

“[The Church] has an influence on what we do every day, I do every day: mingling with people, having to work, having to go to school,” Albert said. “So, the Church becomes a central point.”

Albert and Elaine also help out with the choir at the neighboring Saint Francis of Assisi-Saint Blaise Church.

In addition, Elaine is head of the Youth Ministry at Brooklyn’s Saint Therese of Lisieux Church.

By receiving a Shining Star, they want to inspire others.

“Be like a role model, a pillar of motivation to other people, especially to young, to also contribute in the church.”

“It says Shining Star, so once it’s awarded, the expectation is that you shine even brighter,” Elaine added.

Albert, Elaine, and other recipients will receive their Shining Stars on Friday, October 4.

There are so many honorees, a second dinner will be held on Friday, October 11.