By Wirndzerem Emmanuel Verdzeka and Livinus Tal Bam
Bishop George Nkuo has reminded nine newly ordained priests in Kumbo Diocese of the challenges they will meet in the priesthood. He was speaking in Kumbo last April 16 during a priestly ordination which he co-presided with the Archbishop of Garoua, His Grace Antoine Ntalou.
In a close to thirty minute homily, the Bishop told the newly ordained priests that faced with the great and growing demands of the Christian life and ministry; they will be tempted to sin and fall short of the Glory of God. Having been chosen from among ordinary men to assume divine responsibilities, he said they will be tempted to follow pleasure, convenience and comfort.
Ordination to the priesthood, he emphasised, is a challenge because of the growing insecurity in the faith of Catholic Christians. The Bishop also reminded them that as priests they no longer belong to their families, but to the Church and God. Like Christ, the Bishop exhorted the newly ordained priests to adopt a life of self denial. He also urged them to always preside over Eucharistic celebrations as if they were their first or last Masses. He pointed out that priesthood is an honour because it is all about sharing in Jesus' ministry.
Faced with enormous challenges, he advised them to trust in God in order not to falter in their duties. Bishop George Nkuo instructed the newly ordained priests to desist from deviant behaviour in order to fully share in Jesus' ministry. While advising them to offer their time and exploit their resources for the good of the Church, he equally urged them to emulate the prayerful life of Pope Benedict XVI and the humility of Christ.
As the new priests assume their divine ministry, the Bishop enjoined them to make pastoral presence a top priority. He has also promised to pray for the new priests to love their vocation and remain steadfast in their vows.
As they emerged for the first time in chasubles, a mammoth crowd, which came from the nooks and crannies to witness the historic event, received them with thunderous applause. This was a sign of support and encouragement which Bishop George Nkuo admits is indispensable in Christian-priest relationship; a relationship which the newly ordained servants of God have described as primordial in a Church that is gradually implementing the Provincial Pastoral Plan.
Like Bishop Nkuo, the Rector of St Thomas Aquinas Major Seminary Bambui, Rev Fr. Agapitus Nfon, called on Catholic Christians to pray for their priests in order to help them withstand the challenges of their ever demanding duties. He also pointed out that as "priests made in Kumbo", he is expecting remarkable changes and greater commitment from them.
Some of the new priests seem conversant with these challenges and have thus pledged to keep the faith alive by respecting their vows through an intimate relationship with Christ. "My ambition is to be faithful in the ministry." Rev Fr. Pontianus Tardzenyuy declared to the press, stating clearly that one of his pastoral exigencies will be to help Christians, whose faith is being threatened by sprouting mushroom churches.
This year's priestly ordination in Kumbo has come and gone no doubt, but it has been boldly inscribed on the pages of history, as among the newly ordained, were the pioneer batch of the St. Aloysius Minor Seminary Kitiwum, who have been aptly referred to as "Priests made in Kumbo".
Civil, traditional and religious authorities and thousands of Christians from Kumbo and beyond attended the ceremony.