Interviewed by Emmanuel Wirndzerem Verdzeka
After the priestly ordinations in Kumbo, L’Effort Camerounais spoke to the Rector of St. Thomas Acquinas Major Seminary Bambui, who comments on the State of contemporary priesthood in Cameroon. Excerpts
As the Rector of STAMS, the nursery of priests, what are your impressions after this priestly ordination?
This is about my fourth year as the rector of STAMS Bambui. An occasion like this is usually one full of great joy after a lot of formation work, which is not an easy task. There are always lots of sacrifices. Just like you hear mechanics talk of panel beating cars, we also have to mould these young men to be priests according to the mind of Christ and his Church.And of course, we form them following the four pillars of formation. They have to be intelligent, pastorally inclined, spiritual men and at the same time humanly formed. So, all these areas must be taken care of. If I declared them worthy, it means they have met up with the demands. But my worry is that the same wonderful boys when they come out as priests you start to hear disturbing stories about them like being lazy and a few scandals left and right. That is where our hearts are broken. So, my prayer is to see a big change in output and the commitment of our priests.
In his homily the Bishop pointed out a number of challenges these priests will meet. What advice can you give them?
They should know that priesthood is not a status, priesthood is service. And whenever those challenges come, they should look up to Christ on the cross. He will have anwsers to their challenges and problems.
Year in year out priests are ordained, yet they are never enough. How can you explain this?
You know the work is there as long as we have to meet up with the pastoral demands, we will lack priests. Even if all men in Kumbo opt to become priests, there will still be a shortage of priests.
The new way of being church calls for complete involvement of lay faithfuls in the life of the Church. However, christians have been noted for criticizing priests severely. What role can these christians play in the lives of their priests?
I think the first role of a christian is to pray. They should pray for us priests and also realize that we are human beings chosen from among people and raised to the order of the presbyterate. And those weaknesses of the human being are not taken away from the person. So, we need a lot of prayers and support.
Any last words?
I wish to thank the Christians of this diocese for the support they have been giving to priests and I keep begging them not only to support priests spiritually and morally, but also financially. I am a priest from Kumbo, but when we receive Seminary Collection from various dioceses, I put my head down becuase what we have is not anything measured to the numbers we have in the Major Seminary from this area.