This year’s celebrations took place at various levels under the theme “Get out of yourselves and waken the World.” The Head of Service for Justice and Peace and her adjunct, joined the Auxiliary Bishop, His Lordship AgapitusNfon, the Vicar General Adjunct of the Archdiocese of Bamenda, Mgr. George T. Ngalim, other Service Heads, elected members of Archdiocesan Commissions, and other members of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council in a two day celebration; 16th and 17th of October 2015; Day for Commissions, and Day for the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council respectively.
Each day began with a Eucharistic Celebration at the Chapel of the Paul VI Memorial Pastoral Center, after which activities unfolded at the Conference Hall of the Maryvale Institute, all in Bamendakwe.
The Day for Commissions presided over by His Lordship Agapitus Nfon started with a word from the Rev. Fr. Anthony Bangsi, Director/Coordinator of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Formation Team (APFT) who appreciated the turnout. He added that, coming together as a family, discussions should be geared towards bringing unity into the family. He went further to highlight the objectives of this gathering;
- To pray for family unity,
- To strengthen Commissions,
- Review the Plan of Action for 2014 - 2015, and
- Elaborate a Plan of Action for 2015 - 2016
Since this day was declared a Day of National Mourning, a minute of silence was observed for the death of some of our brothers and sisters in a Boko Haram attack in the Northern part of Cameroon.
In the first reflection of the day; Baptismal Consecration and Service, presented by Catechist Christopher Fonge, participants were reminded that Consecration is “the solemn dedication of Things, Places or Persons for a Divine Purpose or Service” - (Exodus 28:30 -41; 3:5 & 6; 20:8, Leviticus 25:10). Through our baptism, we are consecrated (The Common Priesthood of the Laity), and therefore called upon to share in the mission of Christ (Catechism of the Catholic Church, Paragraph 905), and be committed to service in making the world a better place with each of our talents (Catechism of the Catholic Church, Paragraph 111). More emphasis was laid on the Pope’s Letter on The Year for Consecrated Life.
Catechist Christopher elaborating on Service called on participants to strive to be good leaders by, amongst other things;
- Setting a vision and goals
- Commit to live long learning
- Master the method of work,
- Work with conviction,
- Deepen their faith and knowledge, before meeting others
By doing all these, we render quality service to the people entrusted to our various Services and Commissions, especially as we draw closer to celebrating 15th Anniversary of the Provincial Pastoral Plan (PPP).
The Auxiliary Bishop in the second reflection of the day dwelled on the theme of this year’s celebration; “Get out of yourselves and waken the World”, drawn from St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians 5:1-12, and on the Pope’s Message for the Year of Consecrated Life. He encouraged participants to “Go out to those who need your support”. We must get out of our comfort zones; this entails Sacrifice. By virtue of our Baptism, we are sent on a mission to show love, mercy, and compassion to our brothers and sisters, especially the needy. His Lordship emphasized this in the following words; “It is through our Commissions that we put flesh unto the Word of God.”
We are called to be prophetic; to scrutinize the signs of the time (a reason why the Holy Father called an OrdinarySynod and an Extraordinary Synod on the Family, because he has seen that the family is disintegrating. There is no love); to discern and denounce evil (sin and injustices; treatment of widows and orphans, Trafficking in Persons, etc.) in our communities; have no interest other than God; to be on the side of the poor and the powerless; they know that God is on their side. Prophecy is not only for priests and the religious, but also for the lay faithful. We should cooperate in the work of evangelization; as witnesses and as living instruments. Therefore, we must belong to commissions in which we are seasoned to bring life into the Church (Ad Gentes #41).
We have an indispensable role to play in the work of evangelization. This is thanks to the implementation of the PPP. So we must keep to it despite the obstacles as we can never measure the graces we receive from the work we are doing. Let us be charismatic. We must be able to let go the pleasures of this life, and embrace sacrifice. The Pope is calling priests, religious and the lay faithful to assist him in the work of evangelization; not only to Catholics, but also to non-Catholics. That is the spirit we should have to wake up the world. We should do our work joyfully as our Gospel is a Gospel of Joy. We should bring joy to one another by putting smiles on each other’s face.
In group works that followed, Service Heads and elected Commission members read and harmonized their reports for the period November 2014 to September 2015. They equally planned trainings for the period 2015 - 2016 at Deanery level, and also came up with strategies to involve the Religious into their activities. The Justice and Peace Service was the only service which presented its family tree which indicates its level of implementation of the PPP following the pastoral organogram of evangelization. This was very impressive, and other services were called upon to emulate this example.
The Vicar General Adjunct, Mgr. George T. Ngalim as Chairperson on the Day for the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council welcomed all members of this body to the celebrations. Capitalizing on the proper implementation of the Provincial Pastoral Plan (PPP), he called on each and every one to take the PPP serious. When this happens, there will be no Boko Haram as this working document stresses the importance of “Being our brother and sister’s keeper.” It enables us identify and know everyone in our neigbourhood. In his function as Vicar General Adjunct, charged with the implementation of the PPP, he prayed all members of the Council put their hands on the plough to ensure the success of this plan.
Fr. Anthony Bangsi in his input on “The Importance of the Pastoral Council”, amongst other things, emphasized on the necessity for the Family and Small Christian Community (SCC) Councils to function properly. It is only when this happens that the other councils of the Pastoral Structure will follow same, and eventually the Provincial Pastoral Plan. He hoped that the 14th Session of the Synod of Bishops, on the Family comes out with resolutions that will strengthen family bonds. To this, he encouraged every Commission member to belong to the Family/SCC Councils. Here, they can better make use of their God-given talents. He prayed for God to continue to inspire members of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council.
At the end of the Day for the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, an action plan was elaborated. Among the activities planned were;
- Preparations for the celebration of the 15th Anniversary of the Provincial Pastoral Plan,
- Leadership Trainings for Commission Leaders at Deanery Level,
- Preparations for upcoming elections.
The celebrations ended with a pontifical high mass concelebrated at the Metropolitan Cathedral, Big Mankon by the Auxiliary Bishop, the Vicar General Adjunct, and theDirector/Coordinator of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Formation Team.