The Emeritus Bishop of Buea Diocese, Mgr. Pius Suh Awa, on Monday, May 31, 2010 celebrated his 80th birthday at the Regina Pacis Small Soppo Cathedral. A Mass was said on the occasion to thank God for the blessings showered on Mgr. Awa. L’Effort Camerounais takes a cursory look at the Emeritus Bishop’s Pastoral Ministry.
Buea Emeritus Bishop, Mgr. Pius Suh Awa on Monday, May 31, 2010 celebrated his 80th birthday at the Regina Pacis Small Soppo Cathedral.
The Bishop of Buea, Immanuel Bushu, was the main celebrant during the anniversary Mass in which thirty (30) concelebrating priests, most who the Bishop Emeritus had ordained, took part. The occasion also fell on the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Mary.
In his homily Bishop Immanuel Bushu said the meeting between the Holy Mary and her cousin Elizabeth was the most humble of all meetings that ever occurred because it involved two people who were always ready to serve. He cited some great moments in the lives of Jesus and Mary which are used as Holy Rosary mysteries.
Mgr. Bushu urged those present at the Mass to always reflect on these mysteries to strengthen their faith. He said the congregation had gathered in thanksgiving to God for the life of Bishop Pius Awa, who turned 80, even though he has not been in very good health for a long time. He explained there was reason to thank God for this miracle because the Psalms say “Our lifespan is 70 and 80 for those who are strong.”
Bishop Bushu said Christians are blind to daily miracles like the ability to breathe or to move. This, he said, explains why Christ cannot manifest Himself to Christians physically since they do not love and trust Him enough. Mgr. Bushu said the day’s feast and Bishop Awa’s 80th anniversary celebration should help the congregation remember that God is always with them. He then asked them to join him in asking God to strengthen Buea Emeritus Bishop.
Several Religious and a handful of lay faithful attended the Mass. Brothers of St. Martin de Porres led the singing.
His lordship Bishop Pius Suh Awa, from Bafut, was born on May 4, 1930. He attended primary school in Mankon, Bafut and Njindom between 1938 and 1944. From 1945 to 1947, he was a teacher in Njindom. He entered the Junior Seminary in Sasse College in 1952 and in 1955 was admitted to Bigard Memorial Seminary, Enugu – Nigeria, from where he proceeded to Rome for further studies.
On December 20, 1961, he was ordained priest in Rome. When he returned to Cameroon in 1962, he was appointed as curate of Fiango Parish, Kumba. He was appointed Supervisor of Catholic Schools in the Forest Area of West Cameroon from 1964 to 1965. In 1968, Fr. Pius S. Awa was appointed Vicar General of Buea Diocese and on February 20, 1971, His Holiness Pope Paul VI appointed him Co-adjutor Bishop of Buea with the right of succession. On May 31 that same year, he was consecrated and served as Co – adjutor Bishop of Buea until 1972. On January 29, 1973, Mgr. Pius Suh Awa took over from Bishop Jules Peeters as the chief shepherd of Buea Diocese. His Motto “Ut Cognoscant Te” “That They May Know Thee” was the spur of his work of evangelisation in Buea Diocese.
The spiritual life of Buea Diocese grew from strength to strength under his leadership. He invited Handmaids of The Holy Child Jesus to work in Buea Diocese in 1980/81. In 1985, he founded the Congregation of Brothers of St. Martin de Porres. The Carmelite Contemplative Sisters from Mexico came in 1994. Lay organisations that were created during his tutelage include Cadets of Mary, FLEP, FLACAM, CFM and Catechetical Team.
Bishop Pius Suh Awa played a key role in the opening of St. Thomas Aquinas Major Seminary Bambui in 1973.
The Diocesan Pilgrimage Centre – Bonjongo remains one of his memorable legacies. He also did a lot in Buea Diocese in the education and health domains.
Following Bishop Pius Awa’s request, Pope John Paul II created the Diocese of Mamfe on February 22, 1999.
On July 21, 2005, Pope Benedict XVI accepted Bishop Pius Awa’s resignation letter and on January 1, 2007, he addressed his last Pastoral letter to all the Priests, Religious, Christ’s lay faithful and people of goodwill in Buea Diocese.