By Grace Ongey
Yaoundé Archbishop Mgr. Victor Tonye Bakot has described the hard times he has experienced as God's servant as a foretaste of Jesus' cross. He was speaking at Mary Queen of the Apostles Minor Basilica Mvolyé on May 05, where hundreds of Christians converged in a highly colourful ceremony to celebrate twenty five (25) years of his episcopacy.
He lauded Mgr. Bakot for coming under repeated media attacks, but remaining unruffled. He encouraged him to stay steadfast to his salvation mission and, above all, to pardon those who have offended him. Mgr. Watio thanked God for saving Mgr. Bakot's life in a car accident on March 28, 2008, at Ahala. He said Mgr. Bakot has undergone five surgeries since then, but these have not deterred him in his mission of bringing God's people to Him.
Mgr. Bakot receiving anniversary flower from a Christian
Mgr. Watio said for God to have saved his servant indicates his earthly mission is not yet ended. Mgr. Watio described Mgr. Bakot as one endowed with exceptional organisational skills, demonstrated, he said, during Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI's visits to Cameroon.
He told Mgr. Bakot his role is to help the world in general and Cameroon in particular to grow. Mgr. Watio stressed a Bishop is not for Catholics alone but for all since his mission is to save humanity. He beseeched Mgr. Bakot to stay united in Christ, to be confident in Him and ask for the Blessed Virgin Mary's intercession. He offered Bishop Bakot a spiritual car of courage, justice, prosperity, prayer and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
The president of the National Episcopal Conference and Bishop of Bertoua, Mgr. Joseph Atanga, thanked God for the life of Mgr. Bakot and the service he has rendered to the Church in twenty five years as Bishop. He extolled the Bishop's sense of duty and hardwork and hailed him for putting in place Edea Diocese.
Head of State's representative and some Members of Government present
He explained it is not easy to continue the good work others have started, but said Mgr. Bakot, who took over Yaoundé Archdiocese after four great Bishops, has succeeded to maintain the same success pace.
Speaking on Yaoundé diocesan clergy's behalf, the Vicar general, Mgr. Sévérin Zoa Obama expressed gratitude to Mgr. Bakot for the attention he gives to their needs. He said Mgr. Bakot's ability to work in every environment has facilitated his rapid integration in Yaounde as Archbishop. He urged Mgr. Bakot to continue being himself.
The 25th anniversary organising committee President, Philippe Mbarga Mboa described Mgr. Bakot as an indefatigable and prayerful servant of God. He entreated him not to be afraid of anything for God is with him. Mr. Mbarga Mboa pledged his unalloyed support and assistance to Mgr. Bakot in his mission. At the end of Mass, Mgr. Bakot and the congregation chanted thanksgiving hymns. He thanked everyone who had worked to ensure the day's success and prayed for more strength to continue in God's saving mission.
It was also celebrating the proclamation of God's Word in 25 years
Mgr. Tonye Bakot handed over Bibles to laureates of a Bible quiz organised as part of activities leading to the celebration of his twenty five years as Bishop. As part of their tradition, the Episcopal Vicars handed over to Mgr. Pierro Pioppo a goat, bunch of plantains and wine reserved for a guest of honour.
Mgr. Victor Tonye Bakot, who placed his jubilee celebration under the banner of fraternity, had been at the head of the National Episcopal Conference for six years. He was ordained Priest in 1973 and consecrated Bishop in 1987. He moved to Edea as Bishop in 1993 and has been Archbishop of Yaoundé since 2003.
The Bishops of Bertoua, Batouri, Obala, Bamenda, Mbalmayo, Doumé Abong-Bang, Bafoussam, Edea, Eseka, Bafia, and the Emeritus Bishops of Bertoua and Bafia, attended the event. Hundreds of priests, religious and seminarians and thousands of Christians some from Edea Diocese, where Mgr. Bakot once served, were also present.
The Minister of Justice and Keeper of the Seals, Laurent Esso represented the Head of State. Several ministers, ambassadors, members of the diplomatic corps, the Senior Divisional Officer for Mfoundi, the government delegate to the Yaounde City council and other administrative authorities, also attended the ceremony.