Abidjan (Agenzia Fides) - "I didn't know what to say, I was surprised by the appointment, and the second reaction is a thank you not for me, but for the 125 Ebrié priests commonly called Atchan (an ethnic group that lives in the south of Ivory Coast) who came after me, for the 4 Bishops who followed me and for the Atchan people who aspire to live the Christian life: I say that the Lord knows what he does, it is a manifestation of the benefits of God towards the Atchan people", said Fr. Jean-Baptiste Akwadan Tanon, when he learned of his elevation to the dignity of Chaplain of his Holiness.
Fr. Jean-Baptiste Akwadan, chaplain of the Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus Center of Bingerville, then of the diocesan clergy of Abidjan, was elevated by Pope Francis on Saturday 27 June to the dignity of Chaplain of His Holiness. Now it holds the honorary title of monsignor.
"In reality it is not an office, it is an honor; a reward that the Pope grants to a priest aged 65 and over for the work he has done. In the Church there are situations which are called elevations of honor", he explained, adding that there are three: "the first, Apostolic Protonotary, the second Prelate of Honor and the third Prelate of His Holiness".
"Without being a Bishop, this distinction allows the priest who receives it to benefit from the title of "Monsignor" and to wear the cassock with purple decorations and a belt of the same color", said the new chaplain of his Holiness.
At the age of 78, Mgr. Jean-Baptiste Akwadan was ordained a priest on 1 May 1970 in the parish of Notre Dame du Perpétuel Secours in Treichville in the archdiocese of Abidjan. First priest of the Atchan people, he has a licentiate in spiritual theology which he obtained in 1999. Mgr. Jean-Baptiste Akwadan is the founding parish priest of the the Holy Family parish of Riviera 2, in the archdiocese of Abidjan.
In the history of the Church in Ivory Coast, before Father Jean-Baptiste Akwadan, four priests received this honor: Fathers René Kouassi, first Ivorian priest, Denis Ayou of the diocese of Grand-Bassam (south), Robert Atéa of the diocese of Gagnoa (west), and more recently in 2016, Anaclet Frindethie of the diocese of Yopougon, in the west of Abidjan . (S.S.) (Agenzia Fides, 6/7/2020)