Hundreds of priests, Religious, Friends of Mill Hill and well-wishers gathered at the St Joseph’s Metropolitan Cathedral, Big Mankon Bamenda on Friday the 18th of November, to celebrate the presence of St Joseph’s Missionary Society of Mill Hill in Cameroon for 100 years. The Pontifical Mass which started at 9am was celebrated by Mgr Andrew Nkea, Archbishop of Bamenda. Among the religious who answered present were prelates like Bishop George Nkuo of Kumbo Diocese and Bishop Cornelius Fontem Esua, Archbishop Emeritus of Bamenda and Fr Michael Corcoran, the General Superior of the Mill Hill Missionaries.
The lectionary procession was beautifully done by the Tertiary Sisters of St Francis who were brought to Cameroon by Mill Hill Missionaries 87 years ago. The Bread and wine procession was animated by the Sisters of St Therese, Founded by Bishop Jules Peter.
In his Homily, Bishop Nkea started by reading the Constitution and Directive of the St Joseph’s Missionary Society which states that “we have heard the words of Christ to his disciples, go therefore, make disciples of all nations, baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teach them to observe all the commands I give you. Together as a society, we are committed to acting on these words, to share this gift with others, we have freely left our homes, our relatives and friends, to become like the Apostles, witnesses to Christ, proclaiming the good news to people far away. True to our missionary vocation, we are ready to leave our country and our culture. We do so in order that the Gospel of Christ may bring together people of different races and may become incarnate in every culture and nation”.
He went ahead to give a history on the arrival of the first four missionaries in Bota in March 1922. These four missionaries began a great mission that has flourished over the years. He then asked the congregation to rise and pray for all the deceased Mill Hill priests. He later continued that the Christians were gathered to celebrate the fact that Christ is still reigning in this territory evangelized by the Mill Hill Missionaries and that we can see how their work has grown by the power of the Holy Spirit and the intercession of St Joseph. The small territory of 4 parishes in 1922 is now the Ecclesiastical Province of Bamenda with close to 200 parishes. To him, looking at this growth we can only say with the psalmist “Not to us Lord, not to us but to your name give the Glory.”
This celebration, the archbishop noted, is a thanksgiving to God for showing enormous love to the Mill Hill Missionaries in Cameroon. It is a thanksgiving to God for what he has done for the church through the instrumentality of these heroic missionaries. It is thanksgiving to God who has blessed the missionary society because calling missionaries from the missions to join their ranks in evangelizing other missionary territories. He added that this celebration was a thanksgiving by the Mill Hill Missionaries themselves for knowing that God has been with them in the mission that can be described after 100 years as a success story. He concluded by begging God to bless the Mill Hill Fathers and the local church of Cameroon.
The Mass ended with two speeches, one from the Society’s Representative for Cameroon, Fr Innocent Akum and the General Superior of the St Joseph’s Missionary Society, Fr Michael Cocoran.
After Mass, Christians moved to the hall where there was the cutting of the cake by Bishop George Nkuo, Fr Innocent Akum, Fr Michael Corcoran, Bishop Andrew Nkea and Bishop Cornelius Esua. This was followed by refreshments and later by juju and cultural dances led by the Mill Hill students.
Fr. Anthony Ndang MHM
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