Assumption Parish, Mbiame
P.O. Box 115, Kumbo
North West Region, Cameroon
Erected: 22 January 1965
6am Tues – Sat
Gospel sharing Monday 6am
Rev. Omer Sevidzem, S.D.
You are welcome to the assumption parish Mbiame, we are located in Mbontsem village and the neighboring villages in the Mbiame Fondom, situated in Kumbo East. We are Catholic community that strives to follow the footprints of Christ, working together with their brothers and sisters to build the complete body of Christ. In various apostolates we work with young people, families, single parent groups, the poor, the sick are taken care for in our various health facilities, and we also work with Chalice and Caritas to improve some social facilities for the people and the education of the young.
Diocese of Kumbo
Living the Faith
HISTORY OF MBIAME PARISH FROM THE EARLY BEGINNINGS TILL 2015
Close to one hundred years ago, when the Catholic Faith arrived in Kumbo, there was a young prince from Mbiame who was a cola nut trader and used to buy cola nuts from Mbiame to sell at Kumbo. This young man was called Nsame. In one of his expedition to Kumbo, a princess called Benaka from the same fondom of Mbiame had gotten in contact with Christians in Kumbo. She, like Andrew the apostle, introduced the faith to her brother. Together they visited Paul Tangwa, one of the first Christians to be baptized at Shisong. They both learnt doctrine and were baptized as Peter Nsame and Maria Benaka.
Peter Nsame and Maria Benaka later came back home to Mbiame and started the new way of life in a place near the old Palace called Roomelai, near the seat of the new Fondom. They did this in secret because they were afraid of the Fon and his jujus. As time went by, they started initiating others into the faith and this brought them to the lime light. They were discovered by the Nshiyselav who reported the issue to Fon Tata Nwe’ who was totally against the new way of life. They were accused of witchcraft and Nwerong was ordered to arrest and torture them until they recant. It is not very clear in what year this took place but some people think it was between 1914 and 1920.
At this time of the persecution, Peter and Maria had a small following and so they escaped and built a church in a place called Kintsem. The people nicknamed it Vebiimee’ Roonkuy meaning the toilet area of believers. Here a serious persecution arose again from the Nwerong. The church was burnt down and Peter was severely beaten and left half dead. In this incident, Peter lost some of his teeth. Thank God he survived all these. This gave them a good number of sympathizers and their numbers increased to twenty. Again, they had to move camp and they went to another place far away from the Fon and his Nwerong. They then went to a hidden place on the road to Lip called Tukiwaar today known as Mangori. Mangori came from the mango tree which was planted by Maria Benaka. Each month, they would trek to Shisong where they would go to confession and receive other sacraments in order to be close to their Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. This strengthened and empowered them to go through the hardships of the apostolic calling.
The harassment and persecutions continued while at Tukiwaar but this soon died down with the death of Fon Tata Nwee in 1927. The new Fon, Tata Shindzev the great who succeeded his father, was very tolerant and this gave the Christians a chance to go out to spread the Gospel. They later on moved to a permanent site in Mbontsem where they built a permanent Church and this site later in 1965 became the seat of the Parish. The church at Mbontsem came from the efforts of the twenty apostles who never gave up. They are Peter Nsame, Maria Benaka, Simon Nsenin, Stephen Jaff, Joseph Kibuh, Philip Tamuh, Andrew Fonjaika, Barnabas Kpunsa, Lucas Lawan, John Lafelir, Matthias Fedzee, ZachariaFonbee, Patrick Mbakpu, ElizaberthNsam, LamiNsame, Veronica Yuyee, Albert Ku’njo, Robert Malung, Cecilia Mumdzee and Elias Sov. These people settled in Mbontsem and gave birth to a Christian village in which Christian ideals were lived. No pagan was allowed to settle in Mbontsem as it was the land of the Christians with the only Church being the Catholic Church. Jujus also were not allowed to pass through Mbontsem.
From the above struggle came a period of growth in the number of Christians and development in other areas. Mbontsem was an outstation of Shisong Parish and a priest came all the way from Shisong to see the Christian once in a while. With the number of Christians growing and the atmosphere more and more tolerant, there was need for some facilities to be brought to improve upon the quality of life of the people. There was need for educational facilities and so the missionaries began with the following:
1.Vernacular School: A vernacular school was opened at Mbontsem in 1938. Here some Christians were taught to translate the word of God from English into Lamnso so that many people would be able to understand. With the advent of the Second World War, this school was negatively affected.
2.Catholic School Mbontsem: At the end of the World War, the Vernacular School which was closed earlier was reopened as a full school, Catholic School Mbontsem in 1945 with Mr. Paschal Dufe as the first Headmaster who admitted John Lankar as the first pupil who later on became a catechist. This school was meant to help people to be able to read and write and also that they may assist as teachers, clerks, secretaries and catechists. From C.S. Mbontsem came C.S. Kovki and other schools like C.S. Mboshong and C.S. Ngorin which later on were unfortunately taken over by the Government.
3.Visit of Medical Doctors: The Church always goes for the integral development of the person. Occasionally, Doctors and Nurses came from Shisong to consult and give treatment to sick Christians as well as other people who were sick around here. They also taught hygiene to the people. Christ was not only concerned about the soul alone but about the social welfare of man.
With the beginning of the Church, many people became Christians and a new way of life ensued in Mbiame. Christian values gradually began influencing the life and thought of the people. Whatever was branded as witchcraft was being explained with the understanding of the faith and this reduced the practice of sending people into exile. Whatever the Fon and his Nwerong did not understand or was not what was done before was witchcraft. Because Christians had to go to Church clean on Sundays, people gradually learnt to take a bath often, wore clothes from Europe and you can name the rest.
With the tolerant atmosphere, many people became Christians without any fear of persecution. At this time a priest would visit them from Shisong. Some of the priests the people remember are Mill Hill Priests like Fr. Woodmann, Fr. Michael Moran, Fr Leonard Jacobs, Fr. Leo Onderwater, Fr. Francis Figl, Fr. Ivo Stokman, Fr. Henry Oleslagars and others who worked at Shisong. People from various villages believed in the Gospel which led to opening more mission stations in the area. The following missions were opened in the area as mission stations of Shisong parish. In 1938, Lip and Ngorin were opened with Lazarus Lawong as the catechist of both missions. Other missions opened later were Lam with EngelbertWirngo as catechist, Mboshong with Elias Mengnjo as Catechist, Tanyar with Benedict Viban as catechist, Kovki with John Mbur, Mbokov with Pa Francis as Catechist. Another Christian who assisted Pa Francis in Mbokov was Pa CasmierNjome. Yawum mission which has now been moved to Mumyu was opened with Raphael Menang as Catechist. Mbonchari was opened by catechist Benedict Viban, Nkonin was opened by Peter Fonyuy, and Tiywong by Sabastian Bongfen and Rifem opened by Aloysius Ndze.
In 1951 a meeting of Christians was convened in a Samba house where Pa Peter Nsame gave the only agenda saying: “We must ask for our own parish priest.” In this meeting two people were nominated to go to Shisong to see the Parish Priest. Peter Nsame and the Catechist used a horse to Shisong and asked for a Parish Priest. At that time there were no cars leaving Kumbo to Mbiame as is the case today. By the help of God it was arranged that a motorable road should be dug from Kumbo to Mbiame. It happened in 1952. This work on the road was shared to all quarters of Bui Division. The road ended at Lam.
Sometime in 1958, Bishop Peeters Rogan, the Bishop of Buea came to visit Mbontsem at the request of the Christians. He came to see for himself the people who were asking for a priest. When the Bishop arrived Lam where the road ended, he was carried from there by four men in a stretcher who would hand over to another group when they got tired. Some pagan onlookers were so thrilled by this that they offered to assist in carrying the Bishop, but the Christians would not let them. How could a pagan go near the Bishop? This was unheard of. When the Bishop finally arrived at Mbontsem, a welcome address was presented by Regina N’eefé popularly known by her contemporaries as Mami Shifi due to her pronounced wisdom. The address was a five-word question that went thus: “ghan kpu la moo jwi?” The translator rendered it word for word: “Who will die like a dog?” The interpretation of this statement is “unlike dogs that have no need of sacraments, we are Christians and need to be attended to by a priest when our death is approaching. We need a resident priest.” That day was indeed a big day for the Christian faithful.
In 1961, Bishop Peter Rogan resigned as Bishop of Buea and was succeeded by Bishop Jules Peeters, also a Mill Hill Missionary, who was ordained Bishop on the 24th of August 1962. Before Bishop Peter Rogan retired he had proposed Mbiame as parish. By this time there were seven parishes in the area which is now Kumbo Diocese namely, Shisong, Tabenken, Nkar, Nkambe, Djottin, Tatum and Kumbo. During the episcopate of Bishop Jules Peeters two more Parishes were opened in the Area, Mbiame and Meluf. (Firm in the Faith, 75th Anniversary of the Catholic Church in Kumbo Diocese, pp 14 – 15).
In 1964 Fr Clement Ndze came to Mbiame for the Christmas celebrations. After preaching on Chritmas day, he read the Bishop’s letter whose content was that Mbiame has been created a parish and that Fr Jeremiah Doona has been appointed the Parish Priest. Shouts of joy could be heard from every corner of the Church. After Mass there was dancing everywhere in the mission. Bishop Jules Peeters caved out Assumption Parish Mbiame from Shisong Parish. Fr. Jeremiah Doona, the first Parish Priest of Mbiame was installed on the 22nd January 1965 at the ceremony of the erecting of a new Parish. At that time the Christian population was estimated at 2,390. Immediately, Fr. Doona set to work and by the end of the year he had baptised 40 adults, 74 children, and 11 came from other parishes, 5 died and 10 left to other parishes and thus the year ended with 2,500 Christians. He celebrated 9 marriages, 7 ordinary and 2 mixed marriages. The nine marriages brought the number of Christian families to 300. He had ten catechists and ten catechumenates. (Source, Sacred Returns, 1965).
Fr. Jerimiah Doona worked in Mbiame from 1965 to 1975. Fr. Brummenlhuis came to releave him when he went on leave from February 1968 to August 1968. Fr. Wagenaar again relieved him from 4th July 1972 to 30th January 1973. By the time Fr. Doona left, there were about 3,000 Christians in Mbiame. Fr. Doona constructed the Father’s House, the Church building and C.S. Mbontsem. Fr. Doona left Mbiame on 22nd of Jun 1975 and was replaced by Fr. Charles Acha. By then Mbiame was in Bamenda Diocese with Mgr Paul Verdzekov as Bishop. Fr. Charles Acha served Mbiame for ten years and handed over to Fr. Joe Wirba who worked for one year. After came Fr. Patrick Nchuwa, then Fr. Michael De Roog with Rev. Deacon Edward Lukong. Fr. De Roog Alias TaaNgaiwir served as Parish Priest for one year and handed to Fr. Edward Lukong after his priestly ordination in April 1993. Fr. Lukong served until he handed over to Fr. Charles Mbuntum on 16 August 1995. Fr. Victor Yuyar took over from FrMbuntum from 16th August 1999 till he handed over to Fr. John Ndi in August 2002. In August 16, 2003, Fr. Peter Kini joined Fr. John Ndi. They both left as Frs. Athanasius Sangnyuy and Anthony Mailiy came into the Parish as Parish Priest and curate respectively. After two years, Fr. Athanasius Sangnyuy left and Fr. Anthony Mailiy took over as Parish Priest with Fr. Polycarp Salo as curate. Fr. Polycarp left after two years and was replaced by Fr. Killian Ndukong. In July 2010, Fr. Emmanuel Mbeh came in as Parish Priest and was assisted by Fr. Killian Ndukong, then Fr. Venantius Nsame and lastly Fr. Julius Binyuy, Fr. Emmanuel Mbeh and Fr. Julius Binyuy left in June 2014, handing over to Fr. Omer Sevidzem and Fr. Marcel Kpudzeka as parish priest and curate respectively. These last two are currently serving the Mbiame population.
Since its erection, 9059 people have been baptised in the Assumption Parish Mbiame, 4261 have received confirmation, 531 Christian marriages have been celebrated and 695 people have been buried in our cemeteries.
Assumption Parish Mbiame continued to grow spiritually as more and more people continued receiving the various sacraments in the Parish. Each year many children would be baptised, receive Holy Communion, go to confession, get married, receive anointing of the sick. Some sons and daughters of Mbiamehave offered themselves to spread the Good News in a Special way of life. The following were ordained priests; namely, Frs. William Tardze, Anthony Viban, Victor Yuyar, David Tangwa, Edwin KewaiNyuydzesi, Paul Verla, Marcel Gham, Julius Javsinla, Emmanuel Shiynyuy, Elias Mengnjo, Boris Sife, and FranclineBanadzem. A good number of boys from Mbiame are in the seminary. Also many young girls entered the religious life and we can recall the following, Srs. Lucy Nyuykighan, Lilian Vernyuy, Elvira Afoni, Helen Diyla, Adeline Kwatinyuy, Comfort Limnyuy, MarilineReemila, Marie Larissa Konglamonyuy, LovelineLimnyuy, Mary Elizaberth, EmelineMengnjo, Joan EvertteLukong, and Grace Konglim. There are also a good number of the children of Mbiame who are aspiring or have started formation in a religious community or in the seminary. We can also count a good number of the sons and daughters of Mbiame who have studied in the universities and are serving the nation and the world at large in many posts of responsibility.
To help the growth of vocations and the spiritual life of the Parish, the sisters of the Congregation of the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart came to the parish on the 12th of July 2001. Since then they have been taking care of the sick in the Health Centre and the poor and vulnerable in their Chalice programme.
In spite of this number of Vocations many of our brothers and sisters are still living irregular lives. There are many of them in single parents’ homes and what we call “Come We Stay” or cohabitation. Many have abandoned the Church and gone back to live their lives at home the way they want. Some go back to the traditional beliefs and practice them. Also some leave the Church to the religious sects. These and other distressing events cannot be left out in the history of Mbiame parish.
On Holy Thursday, the 6th of April 1989, the Tabernacle was stolen from Mbontsem Church. Three days later, that was on Easter Sunday 9th of April 1989, after a serious search it was discovered at Mbve-Mbolum. The thieves removed the Blessed Sacrament and threw it into a stream. A miracle took place as the Body of Christ was neither carried away by the currents nor was it soaked by the water. It remained floating on the water when it was found. This unfortunate event has given the parish a pilgrim site and the site was blessed by His Lordship, Cornelius Fontem Esua, Bishop of Kumbo at the time.
Another unfortunate incident that happened was during confirmation the same year. The people were giving gifts to the Bishop and the ceremony was accompanied by gun shots to make it more glamorous as is the tradition. When it was the turn of the Muslim community to offer their own gift, someone fired his gun and the bullet got a small girl of 10 called Renata. The Bishop had to stay an extra day in Mbiame so as to give the girl a befitting burial. It was really a very difficult year for the people and the Church in Mbiame.
From the foregone, no one can doubt that the Church has had a very positive impact in the lives of the people of Mbiame. A lot more has taken place in the life of the Church in Mbiame, but these few memories are written to help us have a panoramic view of what has taken place down the years.
Institutes/Societies of Consecrated/Apostolic Life
Catholic Diocese of Kumbo
The Catholic Diocese of Kumbo (Latin: Dioecesis Kumboensis) in the Ecclesiastical Province of Bamenda, Cameroon, was erected by Pope St John Paul II on Thursday, 18 March 1982, with territory taken from the then Diocese (now Archdiocese) of Bamenda. It is a diocese of the Roman rite of the Catholic Church. It is a suffragan diocese of the Metropolitan See of Bamenda along with the Catholic Dioceses of Buea, Mamfe and Kumba.