Visiting Priests: Father Martin Asiedu-Peprah Spends 9th Summer in the Diocese of Brooklyn

Tags: Currents Brooklyn, NY, Faith, Ghana, Inspiration, Media, Queens, NY, World News

By Jessica Easthope

Father Martin Asiedu-Peprah, Father Tom Leach and Dolores Fleck laugh and joke like old friends, because at this point they are.

Father Martin is one of about 70 visiting priests serving in the Diocese of Brooklyn this summer, but to the parishioners at Mary Queen of Heaven Church in Flatlands, he’s more like a local than a visitor.

“You feel that you are needed and you can get something from them but also that you have something to offer so every year it’s a different experience,” said Father. Martin.

This is Father Martin’s ninth summer in Brooklyn. On the drive to the airport after his first, Pastor Father Tom Leach asked if he would come back, the answer was yes and now that question has become tradition.

“I feel so relieved when he says yes! He brings to the parish his own pastoral experience, that depth of understanding of the scriptures that comes out in all of his homilies,” said Father Tom.

Father Martin is a pastor himself, at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in rural Ghana, a world away from the city streets of Brooklyn, where he’s learned to pack a lot of preaching into a New York minute.

“People are more time conscious here, we do things within a time limit, we do things within the time allotted for it,” he said.

At home he’s a seminary professor, Father Tom, who just celebrated 50 years as a priest said he learns something new from Father Martin every summer.

“It’s things that I’ve picked up in his preaching, insights into the scripture that I haven’t heard before even though we’re how many thousands of miles distance most of the year we come together and immediately there’s an understanding,” he said.

Dolores Fleck has been a parishioner at Mary Queen of Heaven for 88 years, she’s seen pastors and visiting priests come and go – and she’s a tough critic. But she counts down the days to Father Martin’s visit every year, he’s opened her heart and mind.

“Each time he gives a homily something else seems to open up in the scriptures that becomes part of my faith life and you can’t put a name to that it just stays with you,” she said.

And Father Martin brings back to Ghana Dolores’ sense of community and the volunteerism that’s second nature to parishioners here.

“I really go back every year determined to teach my people that the church belongs to all of us and that everybody should play their role,” he said.

At the end of the summer Father Martin is hoping Father Tom will ask him to come back for yet another year – and his answer will be the same as always.