Speech Presented By Bishop Andrew
SPEECH PRESENTED BY BISHOP ANDREW NKEA FUANYA ON THE OCCASION OF HIS EPISCOPAL ORDINATION AS COADJUTOR BISHOP OF THE DIOCESE OF MAMFE, 23RD AUGUST, 2013.
Your Eminence, Christian Cardinal Tumi,
Your Excellency the Apostolic Nuncio to Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea,
Your Excellency the Representative of the Head of State,
Your Excellencies Archbishops and Bishops of Cameroon and Nigeria,
Your Excellencies Members of Government,
Your Excellency the Governor of the South West Region,
Honourable Senators and Members of Parliament,
The SDO for Manyu and Lebialem Divisions and the D.O of Nguti Subdivision;
The Lord Mayor of Mamfe Council,
Leaders of Political Parties,Traditional rulers, Non Catholic Religious Leaders,
Rev. Fathers, Religious men and women, Consecrated laity,
Dear Brothers and sisters in Christ,
Looking at what has happened to me today, and seeing all of you gathered here, I can only say like King David in 2 Sam.7:18; “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me to this point?” This question will remain in my mind for a long time and may be forever, and I can only be consoled by St. Paul who says that “the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom”(1Cor.1:25).
I give thanks to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the Saints in light (Col.1:12). In spite of my unworthiness, God has called me to the office of Bishop and He alone knows why he chose me among all these excellent and holy priests. But I can hear the words of Christ in John 15:16 saying to me, “You did not choose me, No, I chose you. And I commissioned you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last”. With these thoughts in my mind, I can only join the Psalmist and say; “How can I repay the Lord, for his goodness to me. The cup of salvation I will raise and I will call on the Lord’s name. Your servant, your servant am I, you have loosened my bonds. A thanksgiving sacrifice I make, I will call on the Lord’s Name”(Ps.116:12.16).
It is with filial respects that I address words of gratitude to our Holy Father Pope Francis who appointed me to the office of Bishop. I recognize the fact that I am the first Bishop appointed by Pope Francis in Cameroon, and this for me is a big challenge, a great responsibility and a call to discipleship in a special way. I will do my best not to disappoint the Holy Father, and to make the people of the Diocese proud, that Pope Francis thought of Mamfe first, when he began appointing Bishops in Cameroon. I will always carry my hand bag myself, like the Pope carries his own.
I wish to thank in a very special way, the Apostolic Nuncio to Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea, His Excellency, the Most Rev. Piero Pioppo who has ordained me today as Bishop. Like the Good Shepherd, you made so many sacrifices and cancelled many programmes to be here today. This shows very great love, not only for me but also for the people of the Diocese of Mamfe and for the Church in Cameroon. By ordaining me, you have created an indelible and perpetual fraternal link between us in the Apostolic Succession, and I believe that the assistance, love and support you showed me as a priest will only increase, now that we fellowship in the same Episcopal collegiality. May God bless you.
I address myself with filial gratitude to His Eminence Christian Cardinal Tumi, who spontaneously agreed to preach my retreat before Episcopal ordination. I count myself extremely lucky and privileged to have benefitted from the profound wisdom, sound knowledge, high spirituality, solid faith and long experience of this Pillar of the Church in Cameroon and Prince of the Universal Church. His talks were profound, his lessons practical and his humour exceptional. I must note that his humility was outstanding, as he insisted that I preside at all the morning Masses and he did the serving. Listening to Cardinal Tumi, I thought of the days before St. Charles Borromeo when there were no seminaries and the seminarians had to be assigned to a Parish Priest to do apprenticeship how to be priests. My retreat with Cardinal Tumi was a real apprenticeship and I could not have made a better choice. Your Eminence, God bless you for all you did to me in Douala to prepare not only for this day but for my entire life as a Bishop.
I thank all the Archbishops and Bishops here present, who have travelled from far and near to be present at my Episcopal consecration. I thank Mgr Samuel Kleda, President of the National Episcopal Conference, for his warms words welcoming me to the family of Bishops in Cameroon. I warmly salute all the Bishops from neighbouring Nigeria who are here. Your presence is eloquent testimony to the universality of the Catholic Faith and to the effective and affective collegiality that exists among Catholic Bishops in the whole world. Thank you.
Permit me to mention three Bishops here. Firstly, I wish to thank in a special way, His Lordship Bishop Pius Awa, Bishop Emeritus of Buea, who confirmed me as a Catholic Christian, ordained me into the Priesthood and with whom I worked very closely for the past 21 years. He generously split his diocese of Buea to create the diocese of Mamfe, and I was privileged to be his secretary during that time. My Lord, God kept you specially to see this day, as I am the third Bishop in this Ecclesiastical Province whom you ordained as Priest, the other two being Archbishop Cornelius Esua of Bamenda and Bishop George Nkuo of Kumbo. My Lord, you are a blessed man.
Bishop Immanuel Bushu is my Bishop from whose hands the Holy Father took me to appoint me as Coadjutor Bishop of Mamfe and he kindly accepted to be one of the Co-consecrators at my ordination today. My working with Bishop Bushu has given me the spiritual strength that I needed to embrace this office. Thank you my Lord. The people of Buea are special and God will bless them.
Last but not the least among the Bishops, I wish to thank Bishop Francis Teke Lysinge, Bishop of Mamfe, who is now my Bishop. My history with Bishop Lysinge can only be seen as a Divine arrangement. Both of us went to Government Primary School, Down Beach Victoria, although I came almost 30 years after him. When I went to the Major Seminary, Bishop Lysinge was our Spiritual Director for 7 years and he calls me his spiritual son. He himself writes, “It is a happy coincidence that the then Bishop of Buea, Most Rev. Pius Awa, charged the Bishop-Elect, then his Secretary and Chancellor of the Diocese of Buea, to prepare for my Episcopal ordination in Mamfe on the 21st of April 1999. He read the bull of my appointment by the Holy Father at that mass. How mysterious are the ways of God! Who could tell that fourteen years later, the one reading the bull will take over from me? How mysterious are the ways of God!”. But that is not all! When I was sent to teach in the Major Seminary in Bambui, I was assigned to live in the same house where Bishop Francis was living in Bambui when he was a teacher there, and I slept in his room and on his same bed. Now, this has happened again. Thank You will not suffice, My Lord, but God will bless you and together we shall make the Church of Mamfe grow to greater heights for the glory of God.
To the Members of Government, Senators, Members of Parliament and civil authorities here present, I wish to commend you in a special way because your active participation at this ceremony shows the good relationship that exists between the church and the State of Cameroon. While the Church relies on you for civil protection, you can rely on the prayers of the Church for guidance in the work that you do and you can be sure that we shall continue to pray unceasingly for Peace in our beloved nation, Cameroon. I cannot fail to mention the SDO for Manyu and his team, the Mayor of Mamfe town and the forces of law and order.
I thank all the priests, religious men and women, consecrated lay people, especially the Members of the Focolare Movement, seminarians and Novices who have come to pray with me today. We are in the Lord’s vineyard together, each one playing his own role, but answering to the one Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. Let us love one another and pray for one another, because it is by the love we have for one another that the world will know we are disciples of Christ (Jn13:35). I acknowledge in a special way, my co-formators in the major seminary in Bambui and the seminarians. We should continue to keep each other in prayers and know that the love I enjoyed in that community will remain in me.
I thank my natural family for their assistance from the time I was ordained a priest until today. They have never allowed me to lack and they have always stood by me with prayers, moral and material support. I still count on you so much. I have never had anything to give you people except my love and prayers, but you have always been there for me. Today we all miss Pa Vincent Nkea who is smilling at us from above. And today, I had the greatest joy of my priestly life of giving Holy Communion to my own mother as a Bishop. May the Lord be praised.
I thank my university family of the Catholic University of Cameroon, CATUC, Bamenda. I will greatly miss you all, but know that I still remain one of you and even more disposed now to work for you at a higher level. I thank the university colleagues from other private and state universities, especially University of Buea, and University of Bamenda. You have been wonderful colleagues. Our work is not ended, it has only changed a bit. Thanks for being here.
From the day of the announcement of my appointment until today, I have experienced boundless generosity from a lot of people whose names I cannot start calling now. There has been, I would say without exaggeration, a scramble to buy me cassocks, chasubles, vestments, chalices and sacred vessels and everything I would need for my ministry. People have contributed joyfully for various items and even your presence here today is part of that generosity. I thank my friends in Cuneo – Italy, and the Parish of the Sacred Heart in Limbiate, Milan – Italy, the Christian community of Frosinone – Italy, the Focolare Centre in Rome and the Mill Hill Missionaries. The various committees and church groups charged with the organizing of this celebration have worked very hard, and I cannot thank them enough. For all who have contributed to this occasion and all who are present here today, I promise that I will say a Novena of Masses for your intentions, asking God to bless and reward you.
For the Non Catholics here present, especially our brothers and sisters from the Presbyterian and Baptist Confessions, the Islamic Faith and Traditional Religions. If you are here it is because you recognize that the office of Bishop is for all. I will be open to welcome you all with any problems, and to join you in any ecumenical activities and interreligious dialogue. I will rely very much on your prayers and you can count on me also for prayers for you.
Finally, to the people of Mamfe Diocese, here I come, as your son, your brother, your father and your shepherd. From the valley of Mbetta, the Bangwa, Mock and Mundani Hills, through the Bayang, Ejagham and Nguti lands, the Boki, Anyang and Akwaya Forests, to the grasslands of Kalumu and Messaka Ekol, I am one with all of you. Like St. Augustine says, “With you I am a Christian and for you, I am a Bishop”. We shall join hands together to work with Bishop Francis, so that Mamfe Diocese will be something truly, really and perpetually beautiful for God.
To conclude, the work of a Bishop is not easy, because one is charged with caring for souls and helping the souls go to heaven. I need your prayers every day. I told the journalists that my first priority in Mamfe is to preach the Gospel; my second priority to preach the Gospel and my third priority to preach the Gospel. Any other thing will come after. This is not an easy task, but I am consoled by the fatherly words of Blessed Pope John Paul II who said, “God’s love does not impose burdens upon us that we cannot carry, nor make demands of us that we cannot fulfill. For whatever he asks of us, he provides the help that is needed.” (Arise, p.215). Pray for me daily that my faith may not fail and that when I am strong, I may strengthen the people of Mamfe Diocese.
May God bless you all and may His Name be praised both now and forever. Amen.