In January 2021, I visited Cameroon and met Fr. Innocent Wefon, a fellow Mill Hiller preparing to celebrate his 10th anniversary of Priesthood. Ten years of Priesthood is a milestone worth celebrating. No doubt people receive gifts and sometimes spend a lot of money to mark a good memory of such occasions.
Fr. Innocent Wefon’s unusual request is what caught my attention. He made this request to his Christian community in St Raphael Parish in Bonaberi Douala, Cameroon. “I have decided to pick up 3560 plastic bottles to clean up the environment from toxic waste. These are equal to the days I have spent as a priest, meaning that I pick up a bottle every day. The only gift I will appreciate from you is that you pick up plastics from the environment so that we can care for our common home”. This fire in Fr Innocent Wefon, as he says, was kindled by the encyclical on caring for our common home – planet earth – by Pope Francis. The letter is addressed to “every person living on this planet” and calls for a global dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet through our daily actions and decisions.
Two years later, I am in Cameron and had the chance to share a moment with Fr Innocent. After successfully achieving his 10th-anniversary target and exceeding expectations, he is now collaborating with communities to plant trees to implement Laudato Si. I joint him on one of his visits to Bambui palace in the Northwest region of Cameroon, where he wants to partner with the community there to plant fifty thousand trees come 2023. This invitation goes to each of us. “Pick up toxic waste from our environment and plant trees. This is our common home.”
Alexander Kimbi MHM