Cathédrale de Buea Cathédrale de Buea

The History of the Catholic Church in Buea Diocese

It started as far back as 1842 when Pope Gregory XVI established the mission of the two Guineas that included Gabon and Cameroon. In 1846, when the area was erected as an Apostolic Prefecture with its See in Libreville, Cameroon was to remain within its jurisdiction. The missionaries of the Congregation of The Holy Spirit entrusted with the Apostolic Prefecture of the two Guineas limited their activities to Gabon Cameroon then remained outside the Catholic missionary activity. In 1880, two Polish traders, Mr. Roozinski and Janikowski who established in Bota invited the Spanish Jesuits who were working in Fernando Po to Cameroon. Attempts were made to found a mission in Cameroon though this was temporary halted by the political event of the time. Then in 1890 the Pallotine Fathers took the challenge to evangelise Cameroon with the arrival of Mgr. Heinrich Vieter, Father George Walter, five Brothers and one Seminarian at Douala on October 25, 1890.

Four years later in 1894 the Pallotine Fathers opened Bonjongo, the first parish in Buea Diocese. Within the next 16 years they opened four other parishes: Ikassa 1906, Sasse 1907, Bota 1908, and Ossing 1912 respectively. In 1912 the then West Cameroon, today North-West and South-West Regions were handed over to the Sacred Heart Fathers of the German Province who consequently took over Ossing from the Pallotine Fathers in June 1913. The First World War brought the mission work of the Sacred Heart Fathers to a halt because the Germans had to leave Cameroon.

After the departure of the German Fathers, the Church was kept alive by a faithful band of Catechists under the leadership of Sango Mathias Effiem. In 1917, the Vatican asked Mgr. Shanahan, Prefect Apostolic of Eastern Nigeria, to take charge of Cameroon West of Mungo. It was not until 1918 that he made a four-month trek through the Cameroons.

The First World War ended in 1918 thus ushering a new chapter in missionary activity in the British Cameroon. Rome through the Prefect of Propaganda Fide, took up contact with the Mill Hill Fathers of St. Joseph’s Society London to take up the work and property of the German Pallotine Fathers in Southern Cameroons. All these negotiations lasted till November 1921 when Fr. John William Campling, a Scottish Mill Hill Priest as leader with Fathers Ben Robinson, Michael Morgan and William O’Kelly, were asked to take over missionary work in the Southern Cameroons. This team of Mill Hill Missionaries landed at Victoria, Bota on March 25, 1922. Pa Sango Mathias Effiem was on hand to welcome them. Two stayed in Bota, one in Bonjongo and one in Sasse. In March 1923 Sango Mathias Effiem came to Soppo with Fr. John Campling, Fr. Morgan and Soppo which was formally a German Military Camp was opened as a mission. In December 1922 British Cameroons was made into a Prefecture and on August 16, 1923 Fr. John Campling became the first Prefect.

Fr. Peter Rogan took over from Mgr. John Campling in 1925. The Christian population at that time stood at about 40,000 and the first mission to be opened under him was Baseng in 1926. The first Soppo Church turned into Cathedral started in 1927 and completed in 1928. He championed the opening of schools in the parish centers. Then followed by the vernacular school system and by 1937 over 43 vernacular schools had been opened. The first Secondary School for boys in the Southern Cameroons was opened in Bonjongo in 1938 against heavy opposition from the colonial government. It was transferred to Sasse the following year 1939. In the meantime the faith was spreading and missions were being opened in Tiko in 1929, Okoyong in 1934, Fiango in 1936, Mbetta in 1937, Mbonge and Muyuka in 1943 and Tombel in 1947. Teacher Training Colleges and other Secondary Schools were opened. Mgr. Rogan was committed to the training of the diocesan clergy. Thus the Holy Family Junior Seminary Sasse, was opened in 1947 and graduates from there were sent to Bigard Memorial Seminary Enugu, Nigeria for final training into the priesthood. The pioneer Diocesan Fathers were Aloysius Wankuy ordained in 1949, Lucas Atang 1956, James Toba, Ivo Ndichia and Henry Mesue ordained in 1958 and Clement Ndze ordained in 1960.

0n April 18, 1950, Pope Puis XII raised Buea to a Diocese with Mgr. Peter Rogan as it first Bishop.  From          that time up to October 1, 1961, the date of West Cameroon Political Independence, Buea was a suffragan See of Onitsha Archdiocese in Nigera. With the independence and the reunification of Cameroon, Buea Diocese became a suffragan See of Yaounde Archdiocese till Bamenda was erected to a Metropolitan See. Mgr. Jules Peeters took over from Bishop Rogan August 24, 1962 when he was consecrated as the second Bishop of Buea. He made outstanding contribution to the advancement of Pastoral Work – the idea of the Conventions beginning with the first one in 1967 at Fiango, the formation of Parish Councils. He founded the diocesan indigenous religious congregation, Sisters of St. Therese of the Child Jesus in 1963. He paved the way for the creation of the Diocese of Bamenda with territory detached from the Diocese of Buea.

Mgr. Pius Suh Awa who was consecrated Co-Adjutor Bishop of Buea on May 30, 1971 with the right of succession actually took over from Bishop Jules Peeters as the first indigenous Bishop on January 29, 1973. He founded the Congregation of the Brothers of St. Martin De Porres in 1985.

In 1999, at the request of Bishop Awa, Mamfe Diocese was created with territory detached from Buea and Mgr. Francis Teke Lysinge became the first Bishop of Mamfe.

With the retirement of Bishop Awa on November 30, 2006, Bishop Immanuel Bushu was installed on January 30, 2007. He consecrated the Diocese to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary, and the Divine Mercy. On March 15, 2016, Buea Diocese gave birth to another diocese, the Diocese of Kumba with Mgr. Agapitus Nfon, as its first Bishop.

The Buea Diocese now covers only Fako Division with a surface area of 2093 square kilometers. It has 34 parishes and 80 Diocesan Priests and over 15 Religious Priests serving the people of God.

 


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Last modified on jeudi, 10 juin 2021 09:12
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