Christians of Bamenda Archdiocese are in shock after they learnt of the death of Archbishop Emeritus of Bamenda Mgr. Paul Verdzekov on Tuesday, January 26, 2010 at Ntasen, Bamenda. Fr. Paul died in his study while working at the Catholic Health Centre in Ntasen where he took up residence since he retired in 2005.
Shortly before his retirement, he took seriously ill and later recovered through what many Christians considered a miracle. Since then his health was gradually degrading although he was present in most church events, the last being the opening Mass of the Bishops’ Annual Seminar in Bamenda on January 3, 2010.
Christians of Ntasen say he celebrated morning Mass showing no signs of ill health. The Sisters of St. Francis Health Centre, Ntasen report that Fr. Paul had already packed his bags for a trip the following morning, an indication that he felt quite well.
His body has been taken to the Shisong Catholic Hospital Mortuary, Kumbo, while the funeral programme is being awaited. Prayers for the peaceful repose of his soul are going on in different parishes in Bamenda Archdiocese and beyond.
Father Paul, as he loved to be called, was born in Shisong on Tuesday, January 22, 1931 to Pa Paul Bara and Mama Francisca Viyoy both of blessed memory. Fr John Scott, MHM baptised him at Shisong on Sunday January, 25 1931.
Kindergarten/Infants Class I at Shisong Convent - 1937. Infants Class II at Sacred Heart Boy’s School Shisong - 1938. From 1939 to 44 he went through Standard I-VI at Shisong.
From January 1945 to April 1947 he was a probationary teacher in St. Joseph Junior Primary School Djottin, which was then part of Shisong Parish. In May 1947 he was transferred to Sacred Heart Boys School Shisong where he served till December of that year.
In January 1948 he was admitted to the Teacher’s Elementary Training Centre, Njinikom and to a similar training centre in Bambui in March. In December 1950 he completed the three year training course and obtained the Elementary Teacher’s Training Certificate. From there he became teacher in charge of the Catholic Practising School in Bambui. From January 1952 to 54 he attended the Holy Family Minor Seminary, SASSE. From January 1954 to October 1958 he entered the Bigard Memorial Seminary Enugu and continued from there to the Pontifico Collegio Urbano ‘De Propaganda Fide’for his Priestly Formation up to June 1962.
On December 20, 1961 he was ordained Priest and was admitted to the Faculty of Social Sciences at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome where he obtained a Licenciate in Social Sciences. He returned to Cameroon in August 1965.
September 1965 – Curate to St. Joseph’s Parish Tiko
March 1966 – Curate Sacred Heart Parish Victoria
August 1966 – Acting Parish Priest Victoria pending return from annual leave of Fr. Piet Jacobs
September 1967 – returns to Rome for a doctoral program at the Gregorian University and returns to Cameroon in May 1969.
August 1969 – Priest in charge of Catholic Information Service, Buea
With the erection of the Diocese of Bamenda on August 13, 1970, he was named Bishop of Bamenda Diocese and ordained on Sunday, November 8 that same year as first Bishop of Bamenda.
October 1977 – Represented Cameroon at the Fourth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops
April 24, 1982 – Appointed Archbishop of Bamenda following the creation of Kumbo with territory detached from the then Diocese of Bamenda. He served as Apostolic Administrator of Kumbo until the Bishop of Kumbo was named.
October 1987 – served as Papal Nominee at the Sixth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops
January 22, 2002 – Applied to the Holy See requesting the appointment of a Co-adjutor Archbishop for Bamenda, cum iure successionis.
January 23, 2006 – Hands over the pastoral governance of Bamenda Archdiocese to Most Reverend Cornelius Fontem Esua and retires to Ntasen as Archbishop Emeritus of Bamenda. He died on Tuesday, January 26, 2010.