By Martin Jumbam
On December 11, 2011, Monsignor George Nkuo, Bishop of the Diocese of Kumbo, celebrated a Pontifical High Mass at the Sacred Heart Parish of Shisong to kick off a year of celebration of the centenary of the evangelization of the Diocese of Kumbo.
A hundred years ago, on December 12, 1912, the first Pallotine priests celebrated Holy Mass at the Mbivtinmbang compound in Kumbo, the first such Mass anywhere on Nso land. With that Mass, they planted the seed of the Catholic faith on rich soil that has since, like the proverbial mustard seed, grown and blossomed into a huge tree that has borne many fruits in terms of the number of Christians and of vocations.
In fact, the Diocese of Kumbo gave the Catholic Church in English-speaking Cameroon its first indigenous priest, Father Aloysius Wankuy, who has since gone to his eternal reward. It has also given Cameroon its first Cardinal Priest of the Church of Rome, His Eminence Christian Cardinal Tumi, the Emeritus Archbishop of the Metropolitan See of Douala. It also counts among its sons in the episcopate, the erudite Archbishop Paul Verdzekov, the Emeritus Archbishop of Bamenda, who is today in heaven, His Lordship Immanuel Bushu, the present occupant of the See of Buea, and His Lordship Bishop Agapitus Nfon, the Auxiliary Bishop of Bamenda. Mention should also be made of hundreds of diocesan priests and numerous men and women religious and members of the consecrated life, whose umbilical cords are buried within the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Kumbo.
So, how is the Diocese of Kumbo preparing for this great event – one hundred years of evangelization? That was the question Monsignor Roland Berngeh, the Vicar General of that diocese, was in Douala recently to answer. At the head of a delegation of five, comprising Father Daniel Ache, the Coordinator of Diocesan Social Welfare, Mr. John Kuvinyoh, the Chairman of the Diocesan Council of the Laity, and Mrs. Celine Chin, the Chairlady of the Diocesan Pastoral Council, Monsignor Roland Berngeh enumerated activities so far carried out. Prominent among these are pilgrimages to specific sites, that included the Mbivtinmbang compound, where the first Mass was celebrated a hundred years ago, and Boyong in Ndu in Donga/Mantung Division, a quiet, elevated site with a spectacular scenery, which is being earmarked as the future location for a pilgrimage shrine for the Diocese. These pilgrimages are being undertaken in turns by various groups of the diocese, including priests, religious men and women, catechists and the laity.
This was the essence of the information the listeners of Radio Veritas, the radio of the Catholic Archdiocese of Douala, heard from Monsignor Berngeh and his team. They also had face-to-face contacts with some sons and daughters of Kumbo Diocese at the American Language Center of Douala, who were urged to do all in their power to help ensure the success of this celebration.
Particularly significant will be the final Pontifical High Mass that will crown and close the celebration. It is scheduled for the hilltop campus of Saint Augustine’s College on January 25, 2013. Such a successful end, the Vicar General stressed, will only be possible through the assistance, in cash or kind, of all sons and daughters of the Diocese of Kumbo and their friends. Appeal letters, bearing the signature of the Local Ordinary, Monsignor George Nkuo, were distributed to potential benefactors.
It should be recalled, for the records, that the Diocese of Kumbo was earlier under the Diocese of Buea before being absorbed by the Diocese and later the Archdiocese of Bamenda. It was erected into a full-fledged diocese in 1982 with Monsignor Cornelius Fontem Esau, the current occupant of the Metropolitan See of Bamenda, as its pioneer bishop. Since September 8, 2006, His Lordship Bishop George Nkuo has been shepherding God’s flock as the Bishop. The Diocese of Kumbo covers the government-administered divisions of Bui and Donga/Mantung. From every indication the Bishop’s appeal for support for this event will certainly not fall on deaf ears.