For those of you who may not know, our diocese has been twinned with Bamenda in Cameroon (W. Africa) since the 1970’s. In that time both countries and dioceses have changed and our relationship has developed and grown.
All around Bamenda there is evidence of changes that challenge the old stereotyped image of poor Africans unable to help themselves and just in need of handouts.
There are strong, determined women in the Catholic Women’s Association running campaigns to improve hygiene and providing support to vulnerable people; parish communities fund-raising hard and providing the labour for their own churches to be built; various enterprises to enable people to train or become self-reliant and an impressive Justice and Peace team raising awareness and challenging issues such as conflict and child trafficking.
What could we learn from our sister diocese? When we are reportedly in an increasingly secular and materialistic rather than spiritual world, people in Bamenda express their faith in their everyday lives without discomfort. The Archdiocese is very active in supporting family life, spreading the Word through the media and teaching adults about their faith.
However, there are still large areas of need and the committees in Bamenda and Portsmouth do their best to coordinate the collaborative projects which are agreed.
In recent years, as our annual Bamenda Sunday collection has reduced, capital reserves have been accessed. To ensure a fair spread of assistance, projects have been divided up and allocated money under four categories: faith; education, health and social welfare. With additional funds, many more worthwhile projects could be offered our help.
The most recent applications to the funds include requests for:
- building classrooms and providing window shutters in schools to prevent the detrimental health effects of rain and dust on the children and their education;
- replacement of a church wall about to collapse on the congregation
- numerous projects required to support basic health, safety and education in the prison and
- assistance to provide a vocational training centre for vulnerable youths and single mothers.
The Bamenda Archdiocese is helping us with the provision of two priests in Basingstoke and Tilehurst, schools enthusiastic about being twinned with our Catholic schools for mutual understanding and opportunities to learn from one another.
We should strive to maintain a balanced view of how things are in our twinned dioceses and should not be in any doubt about how much we still need to help and learn from each other.
Please pray for our friends in Bamenda and if possible, give as generously as you can to the annual collection this Sunday.
2014 will be our 40th anniversary – will you be celebrating your link with a specific Bamenda project then?
On behalf of the Bamenda Committee - THANK YOU FOR YOUR ATTENTION AND YOUR SUPPORT.
Linking the Diocese of Portsmouth with the Archdiocese of Bamenda Cameroon since 1974
In 1974, a formal twinning link between the two dioceses was formed. It is the practical expression of co-responsibility in the Church.
Bamenda is the Provincial capital of North West Cameroon in West Africa. In 1970 the Bamenda Diocese was created and Paul Verdzekov appointed as the first bishop. Later the diocese of Kumbo was split from Bamenda and Cornelius Esua appointed its bishop. In January 2006, Archbishop Paul retired and Bishop Cornelius was transferred from Kumbo to succeed him.
Over nearly 40 years, 10 Portsmouth priests have worked in Bamenda, and number of Cameroonian priests have come here both to study and to work in parishes of this Diocese. Over the years, Bishop Derek Worlock, Anthony Emery, and more recently our own Bishop Crispian have visited Bamenda regularly, and Archbishop Paul has on several occasions visited us here. More than £800,000 from Portsmouth has been spent on the support of our priests and in many approved pastoral and development projects there.
The Bamenda Committee serves this link on behalf of the Diocese, as a channel of information and mutual support, and by administering the funds that are contributed from the annual Bamenda Sunday collection, and from parishes and other institutions who have taken on specific projects. If you want to know more, please make contact.
Cheques in support of the link should be made payable to 'PRCDTR Bamenda Commission' or 'The Bamenda Fund' and sent to the treasurer, Mr Bob Hayes: 51 Hordean Road, Emsworth, Hants, PO10 7PU; e-mail address: email@example.com