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The Capuchins Are Here To Evangelise 

Interviewed by Walter Wilson Nana

CameroonPostline.com — Bishop Immanuel Banlanjo Bushu of Buea Diocese has expressed satisfaction with the contributions of the Capuchin Congregation currently managing St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Buea Town. As the parish celebrates 50 years of its existence, June 4 – 16, Mgr. Bushu, in this exclusive interview, looks back at its creation, the road travelled so far, the current situation and the impact of the Capuchin priests.

How did St. Anthony Parish come into existence?
It came into existence when the number of Christians of the Buea Town Mission Station increased and there was need for a resident priest to take care of them. A request was made to the Bishop and he considered the community worthy of being raised to a parish. In 1962, Saint Anthony of Padua Parish, Buea, was erected with territory detached from Regina Pacis Queen of Peace Cathedral Parish, Soppo, Buea.

Which Bishop created the parish?
Bishop Jules Peeters

After 50 years, what is your assessment of Saint Anthony of Padua Parish?
It has done very well as a great parish in the Diocese. It is a community that is alive as we see from the various aspects of parish life, growth in the word of God, reception of the sacraments and structures of evangelisation.

The parish has made good progress as can be seen from the erection of Saints Peter and Paul Parish of the University of Buea, the proposed parishes that will be established as from July 1 2012. From what has happened in the parish since the beginning, we can see that it is realising the purpose for which it was established; many priests have served in the parish, faith in God has increased and many members of the parish are committed Christians.

In 50 years, St. Anthony of Padua Parish has created more parishes and as we look forward to the next 50 and more, it may disappear, following the creation of more parishes?
No, it will not die. A parish does not die that easily. It could die, if there are no more Christians, coming to Church. It will be declared canonically that the parish no longer exists. The Bishop will proceed to write a letter to the Diocese, informing the community that for this or that reason, the parish is suppressed.

From the date of signature of the letter to the Diocesan community, the parish ceases to exist. But the St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Buea, will not die today or tomorrow. It is a strong and vibrant parish. It will go on and on. The creation of more parishes from St. Anthony of Padua is a sign of being a fruitful parish, a fruitful community.

St. Anthony of Padua Parish is being managed by a congregation named The Capuchins. Who are they?
The Capuchins are a community of the Franciscan Order. They are that part of the Franciscan Order, which is very strong in going back to what St. Francis did. It is a congregation that tries to go to the original practice of the Franciscans. They are inspired to work very hard and try to permanently renew the congregation.

Many years ago, they were invited to the Diocese of Kumbo to the Sacred Heart Parish in Shisong, thanks to the presence of the Tertiary Sisters of Saint Francis who have been there for 75 years already. The Capuchins do pastoral work like every priest and live in the community since they are religious. In the Parish of Saint Anthony of Padua, they are settling well in their new environment.

Why the choice of Capuchins in Buea Diocese?
There is a lot of pastoral work to be done. We need more priests to serve the communities. I asked several congregations to come help us. They were amongst the first to express the wish to come to Buea. They came as any other congregation in the Church and I accepted them. I thank them for being there.

What is the motivation for a congregation managing the Parish?

There is the pastoral need, which they answer. They are available ordinarily to the parish community and to serve. When they came, the priests who were previously there were appointed to other parishes and services of the Diocese.

How did you get in touch with them?
I have known them for long. They first came to my village in the early 1980s. After some time, they began sending their seminarians to the seminary when I was teaching there. I got to know them well from that time onwards.

As the Bishop of Buea Diocese, what is your vision for them?
The vision is same like for all the pastors of the Church. They are doing the work that Diocesan and Religious Priests are doing. The vision is that they continue the work of evangelisation, making Jesus known and bringing people closer to God for the glory of His name. In this way, they prepare people for the life to come. That is the idea of pastoral work.

As the Capuchins pursue their work in Buea, do you have any special project(s) for them?
No. Before they came, we agreed on what they would be doing. The ones in Buea accepted to do the normal pastoral work – being in the community, serving them, celebrating the sacraments and attending to the needs of the people; the prisoners, the sick at home and in the hospitals.

As we celebrate 50 years of St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Buea Town, what is your message to the Christians?
I congratulate members of the parish on the occasion of their Golden Jubilee. It is a great moment of grace. God is giving them this time to celebrate and be happy. The Golden Jubilee like all others comes only once. May God make each member of the parish of Saint Anthony of Padua know and grow in holiness.

And to the priests, what are you telling them?
I thank them for accepting to come and work amongst us in the Church of Buea. They are doing good work. People appreciate their presence. I wish them more success in their endeavours to preach the Good news of Jesus Christ to their brothers and sisters in Buea.

First published in The Post print edition no. 01350