Peter Poreku Dery

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His Eminence
Peter Poreku Dery
Servant of God
Cardinal-Deacon of Sant'Elena fuori Porta Prenestina
Bishop Dery.jpg
Church Roman Catholic Church
Appointed 24 March 2006
Installed 28 March 2006
Term ended 6 March 2008
Predecessor Edouard Gagnon
Successor João Braz de Aviz
Ordination 11 February 1951
by Gérard Bertrand
Consecration 8 May 1960
by Pope John XXIII
Created Cardinal 24 March 2006
by Pope Benedict XVI
Rank Cardinal-Deacon
Personal details
Birth name Peter Poreku
Born (1918-05-10)10 May 1918
Wa, Ghana
Died 6 March 2008(2008-03-06) (aged 89)
Tamale, Ghana
Previous post
Motto Apostolus Jesu Christi ("Apostle of Jesus Christ")
Coat of arms {{{coat_of_arms_alt}}}
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Title as Saint Servant of God
Styles of
Peter Dery
Coat of arms of Peter Poreku Dery.svg
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal
See Tamale (Emeritus)

Peter Poreku Dery (10 May 1918 – 6 March 2008) was a Ghanaian cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Archbishop of Tamale from 1974 to 1994 and was elevated to the cardinalate in 2006.

His cause of canonization has commenced and he is now referred to as a Servant of God. The cause commenced in 2013.


Early life and priesthood[edit]

Peter Poreku was born in Zimuopare (Ko Parish) which was a village in the Nandom District of the Upper-West Region of Ghana in 1918. He was the fourth of the ten children of Theodore Poreku and Agnes Zoore. He was born soon after the death of one of his brothers.

As is the belief and practice of the Dagaare speaking people of North-Western Ghana and Southern Burkina-Faso, a male child born shortly after the death of his immediate elder brother is believed to be the reincarnation of the deceased brother and thus given the name of "Dery" to signify that. In keeping with that belief and practice his pagan family thus called him "Dery". He later converted to Roman Catholicism being baptized in Jirapa in 1933.

After attending the minor seminary in Navrongo, Dery studied philosophy and theology at St. Victor's Major Seminary in Wiagha. He was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Gérard Bertrand, MAfr, on 11 February 1951, and then furthered his studies. He earned a diploma in social studies from the St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia in 1958, and obtained his doctorate in theology after studying at the International Catechetical Institute "Lumen vitae" in Brussels, Belgium.

Pope John XXIII embraces the newly-ordained Bishop Dery during the episcopal ordination ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica, Rome, 9 May 1960.
Bishop-elect Peter Dery in the Generalate of the Missionaries of Africa (Rome) on the eve of his episcopal ordination in 1960. With him is a member of the Ghanaian Sisters of Mary Immaculate and Father John McNulty, originator of the credit union movement in Africa.


On 16 March 1960, Dery was appointed the first Bishop of Wa by Pope John XXIII. He received his episcopal consecration on the following 8 May from John XXIII himself, with Bishops Napoléon-Alexandre Labrie, CIM, and Fulton J. Sheen (future Venerable) serving as co-consecrators in St. Peter's Basilica.

Dery, soon after his formal installation as bishop, requested permission from the Holy See to translate the Ordinary of the Mass into Dagaare and have it sung in local melodies, accompanied by local musical instruments; permission was given and Dery himself composed the first Dagaare Mass. He also attended the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965), and focused on the involvement of the laity, the education of the youth, and the promotion of vocations during his tenure.

Dery was later named Apostolic Administrator of Tamale, rising to become the fourth Bishop of Tamale on 18 November 1974. He was the first non-religious Ordinary of that diocese, as all his predecessors had belonged to the White Fathers. He was promoted to the rank of a metropolitan archbishop upon Tamale's elevation to an archdiocese on 30 May 1977. From 1982 to 1988, he served as president of the Ghanaian Catholic Bishops' Conference.

Cardinalate and death[edit]

He resigned his post as Archbishop on 26 March 1994, after nineteen years of service, on reaching the mandatory retirement age of 75. Pope Benedict XVI created him Cardinal-Deacon of Sant'Elena fuori Porta Prenestina in the consistory of 26 March 2006; however, at the age of 87, he was not eligible to vote in any future papal conclaves.

Dery died in Tamale on 6 March 2008 at age 89.


In June 2013 during a mass held in Tamale it was announced that the cause for beatification would commence. The "nihil obstat" (nothing against) was declared on 13 July 2013, thus commencing the cause. The diocesan process commenced on 9 May 2015 in Tamale and will begin to assemble documentation on his life of heroic virtue. As of June 2016 a total of 45 people had been interviewed.

He is now referred to as a Servant of God.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Bishop of Wa
Succeeded by
Gregory Ebolawola Kpiebaya
Preceded by
Gabriel Champagne, MAfr
Archbishop of Tamale
Succeeded by
Gregory Ebolawola Kpiebaya