In August, our Delegature in Cameroon dedicated to John Paul II, experienced several events related to its development, activities and existence on the mission in Cameroon. The saying that extremely fit to our situation at that time is:”in a short time, we lived a lot”.
First, the arrival of our Superior General Sr. Izabela Świerad and her General Councillor Sr. Josephina Anna D’Souza, who had their canonical visitation, from 28th July to 10th August. The Sisters visited all five communities of our Sisters scattered throughout Cameroon, they took part in our everyday life, joys and hardships of missionary life, devoting a lot of time for personal interviews with thirteen Sisters who are the members of the Delegature. They also met with the Bishops of the Diocese and the Priests of the Parishes in which our Sisters work. Another important event was the arrival of the Provincial Superior from Poland Sr. Mirosława Włodarczyk on 10th August 2015. This was the first visit of our Provincial both in the Delegature and on African soil.
The very next day, along with the Sisters of the Generalate and the Provincial Sister, we went on a pilgrimage to historical sites that are so important for our Congregation and the Pallottine mission in Cameroon. The pilgrims trail ran through the places marked with labours and missionary sweat of our pioneers, Missionary Sisters from Germany, who had sown, but never lived to see the fruit… After more than 100 years since their departure, we can be delighted by the presence of new, first Pallottine sisters from Cameroon. What a coincidence of events, what joy and gratitude to God for the difficulties of sacrifice and joy of sowing!
Our pilgrim wandering led us to the village of Edea, where we spent the nights and from where every day we left for more mission places. The Mission in Edea was formed in 1891 by the first Pallottine missionaries, namely priests, brothers and sisters of the German Province. Here we also prayed in the Cathedral Church which was built in 1928, after the departure of our first Sisters. Nearby we managed to “discover” the house where those pioneer Sisters had lived. A two-storey building, of solid walls, farm buildings, all these show how solid was the design and construction. We cannot forget that the buildings were built in the early 1900s and that everything was formed on African soil. Unfortunately, we did not find the graves of our Sisters in the cemetery, although we know that some of them rest there. On the second day of the pilgrimage we visited Kribi and Grand Batanga. Here the mission had been formed before the one in Edea, although the date of establishment is the same – 1891. In Grand Batanga the Pallottine Fathers are still working today, and the only visible sign of the previous buildings are the columns. In Kribi however, (the distance between the two is approximately 25 km) there is a beautifully renovated cemetery, where the graves of Pallottine Sisters and Fathers are marked. Here both the priests of the parish and the local population still remember the presence of German Pallottine Missionaries. These events are still alive in the history of their parish. The last day of the pilgrimage took us to Marienberg, where the oldest of our missions is located. Here in 1890 the first ship with Pallottine “heroes” arrived and two years later another one with Pallottine “heroines”. Marienberg is a tiny mission situated on the bank of Sanaga, the largest river in Cameroon, which flows into the Atlantic Ocean. Here missionaries had bought a piece of land and settled. From here they had walked through the jungle to other settlements, gradually creating other mission stations. In Marienberg (Marian Hill) the commemorative books of the baptized are retained, in which you can still see the handwriting of our Sisters and their signatures. All those Sisters are buried in the local cemetery, which is beautifully restored and well-kept. It was an unforgettable experience for each of us…
The focal point of these two visits from the Generalate and Poland were the first vows of our first Sisters from Cameroon, Gislaine and Stephanie, which took place on 15th August at 14.30 in the church of Saint Spirit in Yaoundé-Mvolyé. Also on the same day during the Holy Mass, Sister Josephina renewed her vows to mark the 25th anniversary of her consecrated life. Together we thanked God for all the gifts and graces given to Sister Josephina in life and service for the Kingdom of God.
The Sisters of the Delegature in Cameroon prayed before all these important events and also organized a novena to prepare us all for their visit. At the end of the canonical visit, Superior General, Sr. Izabela gave us her blessing and then strengthened by the blessing, the Sisters returned to their communities to work with dedication, for the infinite glory of God. On behalf of all the Sisters of the St. John Paul II Delegature, I want to thank Sister Izabela, Superior General, and Sister Josephina, General Councillor for the time offered to our Delegature, each community and each one of us.
Let us entrust to Almighty God, through the intercession of our Holy Patrons. St. Vincent Pallotti and St. John Paul II, our first Sisters, that they be persistent and eagerly give themselves in service to God and the Church in our Congregation.
Sr. Grażyna Wojnowska, SAC