By Mirabel Azangeh Tandafor Fru
After its recognition and approval by the Holy See, the World Apostolate of Fatima, WAF, which is an international association of the faithful formerly known as Blue Army , is now poised to embrace a new mission with new found verve.It is against this backdrop that the International President of the Apostolate, Prof Americo Pablo Ortiz, called on WAF members during their twin congress, which ran from April 3 to 5, to live up to the ideals of the new apostolate.The All Saints Parish, Mutengene, hosted the African Regional and National summits that drew delegates from some African nations and nine dioceses in Cameroon, where WAF is present.
The theme of the congress was "Living the Message of Fatima In-depth". Highlights included spiritual talks and the presentation of national/diocesan reports. Hinging on the Fatima message, Prof. Americo said Mary's message to the children in Fatima in 1917 is more urgent today than ever before. He said what the world needs today is a new evangelization, which, he said, is already the Church's principal duty. He stressed that Mary's Fatima message assumes more meaning within the context of growing moral and spiritual crises in the world today.
"Our apostolate must contribute, as much as possible, to offer new criteria and options to solving these crises by turning to the new, actual and efficient call of the Gospel: 'Repent and do penance!'" He urged all to convert while there is still time. He observed that there is no rest for WAF members, until the message of Our Lady has reached the ends of the world. It was also decided that the propagation of the message that Mother Mary revealed to the three children in Fatima - Poland, be intensified in French-speaking Cameroon and be spread to all dioceses before the next national congress in Obala in 2009.
Members all pledged to pray the Holy Rosary more intensely in family circles daily, as demanded by Mary. The appellation 'Blue Army' was dissolved on grounds that it sounds confrontational. Members were asked to be models of love, peace and justice. They also condemned all doctrines that counter the Catholic Church's stance on Mary's message in Fatima. It was resolved that the next national bureau should reflect Cameroon's bicultural nature. During the closing Mass, the Bishop of Buea Diocese, Mgr Immanuel Bushu, enjoined WAF members in particular and Christians in general, to consecrate themselves to the Holy Heart of Mary. He said, among other requirements, members of the apostolate should sacrifice their wealth, recall the 20 mysteries, say the rosary everyday, wear the brown scapular as a sign of consecration to Mary, observe the first Fridays and Saturdays of the month and pray everyday, as Mary recommended at Fatima.
The Bishop of Kolwezi in the Democratic Republic of Congo, alongside other priests, concelebrated the Mass with Mgr Bushu. Prominent among those who attended the congress were the National Chaplain of WAF in Cameroon, Fr Rolland Berngeh; the Bishop of Kolwezi in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mgr Nestor Ngoy; the National President of WAF in Nigeria, Prof Michael Ogunu; the representative of Cote d'Ivoire, Mme Yai Sylviane Reine and the Diocesan Chaplain of WAF for Buea, Fr Aloysius Fondong. Reactions to the congress Fr. Rolland Berngeh, one of the initiators of WAF, Africa region, compared the Apostolate, which he started in Cameroon since 1987, to a baby that has eventually walked without crawling.
He said that WAF's acceptance and inauguration would serve as a morale booster to African countries and dioceses in Cameroon that have been hesitant to accept the apostolate. He expressed hope that before the WAF's African leaders meet in 2010, membership would have moved up from 10 to about 16 African countries. In the same vein, Fr. Aloysius saw the congress as a stimulant to a greater membership. He wished that more parishes in Buea would wilfully accept WAF. He also saw the International nature of the congress as a challenge to Buea Diocese to champion the spreading of WAF's message. Prof Ogunu, who, despite his poor health attended the congress, described Prof Americo presence at the come together as a unique opportunity for Africa to draw inspiration from his experience. "His presence among us translates just how urgent the Message of Our Lady at Fatima has become," he said.
The Cameroon's National President, Polycap Nuvi Lomah, saw in the huge turn out, an indication that new grounds would be soon be broken. He said WAF members in the Bamenda Archdiocese will evangelize towards the West Province; those of the Yaounde Archdiocese towards the East and South Provinces; those of Kumbo towards the Grand North and those of Buea towards strengthening WAF in Mamfe Diocese and beyond. The representative from Cote d'Ivoire, Yai Sylviane Reine, as a leader, was simply elated by what she saw. While praising the organisation, she concluded that her country still has a long way to go.