A REUNION 30 YEARS IN THE MAKING
JAMES K. A. MENSAH, '88, VISITS BROTHER THOMAS
On September 22, 2018, James K. A. Mensah, Saints Class of ’88, accompanied by his wife Paulina, visited his former mathematics and physics teacher, the legendary Brother Thomas Dillman, CSC, who resides in Cape Coast, Ghana. It was an unexpected reunion of a beloved teacher and student after thirty years.
The events that led to this reunion began when on the previous day James received a WhatsApp message from his classmate, Gerald Sangudi aka Maestro (Saints Class of ‘88), that Bro. Thomas was living in Cape Coast, Ghana. Without any hesitation, James decided to make the journey to visit his teacher. Cape Coast is about 165 kilometers from Tema, the industrial and harbor city of Ghana.
Early that Saturday morning, James and Paulina drove three and a half hours to the Cape Coast. After their arrival, they found that Bro. Thomas was residing at the Holy Cross Brothers Headquarters in Cape Coast, off Aggrey Memorial Senior High School. When they got to the Holy Cross Brothers HQ, they were led to Bro. Thomas’s room. Within seconds, the nonagenarian slowly emerged out of his room, excited to be receiving visitors. James and his wife were delighted and happy to see that despite the toll of old age on Bro. Thomas, he still has a sharp mind. James and Bro. Thomas reminisced about the good old days at St. Patrick’s and the latter tried to recall old classmates he had taught. Bro. Thomas readily recalled one student he would never forgot, “Gerald”. He noted that “Gerald was a brilliant chap”, and James agreed that Gerald was a genius.
Bro. Thomas recounted that Gerald was brilliant in mathematics and always managed to get perfect scores despite other responsibilities in his life, like helping his mother. It was no surprise to Bro. Thomas that Gerald went on to study at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); and that other students he taught had also graduated from MIT and other prestigious institutions of higher learning.
Although Bro. Thomas recalled fond memories of his time at St. Patrick’s, he did not forget the dark times in Liberia. He narrated horrific stories of his experience during the civil war in Liberia. He mentioned how a bullet narrowly missed him at the residence at St. Patrick’s, and noted that rebels and missiles were a daily part of life during the war. His recollection was sobering, but he soon turned the conversation back to St. Patrick’s.
Bro. Thomas was not happy that St. Patrick’s High School was closed by Archbishop Michael Kpakala Francis of Monrovia. He would have loved that the school remained opened to continue its mission of providing high quality education to the boys of St. Patrick’s. He proudly showed off a compilation of mathematics textbooks that he wrote for schools in Monrovia. After chatting, James and his wife took some pictures with Brother Thomas.
In the years following the closure of S. Patrick’s, James learned that Bro. Thomas taught at St. Augustine College, Cape Coast when he moved to Ghana. Age has not slowed down Brother Thomas. He edits a magazine and write books on celibacy and other spiritual issues to guide young up and coming brothers. When James asked Brother Thomas what he wanted Saints Class of ‘88 to do for him, he replied, “I need prayers. Pray for me. My congregation is taking good care of me here in Ghana.” James and Paulina presented a cash donation to Brother Thomas, which included a contribution from Gerald Sangudi.
Thirty years after graduating from St. Patrick’s High School, James was able to fulfill his dream of reuniting with the teacher who left an indelible mark on his life. James and Paulina journeyed back to Tema bidding farewell to Brother Thomas.
James, Paulina, Gerald and our entire Saints Friskies Nation wish Brother Thomas a happy belated 91st birthday.
NOTE: Saints Friskies Nation wishes to thank James and Paulina for visiting Brother Thomas, and for this report. The legacy of Brother Thomas lives in all his students from both St. Patrick’s High School and St. Teresa’s Convent. We will always remember him. It is in his honor and that of all the Brothers and Teachers who taught and mentored us, that we strive to rebuild our Glorious St. Patrick’s.