A Vehicle for Pastoral Work in Cameroon
"Gratitude for the great generosity of the benefactors and for this wonderful and invaluable pastoral gift": this is what Bishop Andrew Nkea feels now that he has been able to purchase a new vehicle for pastoral work in his diocese in Cameroon.
The Diocese of Mamfe, in southwest Cameroon, was established in 1999 by Saint Pope John Paul II and initially had just six parishes. Now the number of parishes has grown to 25. The people here are very poor, and even the bishop himself joins in to work the fields in order to support himself. But there are other problems as well. The diocese is close to the frontier with Nigeria, and in recent years many people have come into the area, fleeing the terror attacks of Boko Haram. There have also been attacks and incursions into Cameroon, so that here, too, the people are living in fear.
The distances in this diocese are considerable, and as a result the pastoral ministry to the people involves major challenges. In some areas, it can take up to 18 hours to reach the parishes. Some parishes find themselves completely cut off during the rainy season, while others can only be reached by boat. Additionally, there are mountainous regions, where the roads are very dangerous. Most are not paved and have large and deep potholes; when the rains come, other roads simply become a sea of mud. What is needed here is a solid four-wheel-drive vehicle, if the priest is not to be left helplessly stranded.
The diocese has its own pastoral office, which provides a range of programs for evangelization, religious formation and other ongoing training. The priests and pastoral workers go out into the parishes in order "to bring the good news of salvation to every corner of the diocese," as the bishop tells us. Until recently, however, "going out" meant quite literally "walking on foot," since many parishes could only be reached this way, even though it involved hours of walking.
Bishop Andrew Nkea brought his problem to ACN, asking for our help. Thanks to the generosity of our benefactors, we were able to give him $12,500 for a suitable vehicle. Now the vehicle has finally arrived and, in solemnly handing over the ignition key to his priests and pastoral workers, the bishop urged them to redouble their pastoral zeal to bring the good news of salvation to very corner of the diocese.
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