Reverend Father, you have just celebrated your silver jubilee in serving the Lord. How do you feel after 25 years of priesthood?
I am happy and satisfied with the distance I have already covered as a priest of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. There have certainly been ups and downs, which is normal; but looking back on all these years, I must say that I am a fulfilled religious and priest.
25 years is a quarter of a century. Do you still have memories of your early years in the priesthood?
Oh yes, I must say that my first three years of priesthood were decisive and structuring for the rest of my life. I spent those first years in a parish with an elderly priest and there I learned to fully commit myself in serving Christ and the church.
By the grace of God I was also opportune to participate as a delegate in the General Chapter of 1997, in which I experienced the congregation, its strengths and challenges. All these left a strong impression on me.
Furthermore my parish priest was often ill (during my early pastoral years as a Priest) and I had to shoulder all the pastoral responsibilities. So all these shaped a character of responsibility in me.
Moreover, I could never forget the demise of my father on December 24th (18months after my priestly ordination). I was all shattered and devastated. It was a very challenging and deplorable moment for me. In spite of this, I had to brave the news of his death and push through other commitments including celebrating Christmas masses and 50th anniversary of baptisms before going for my father’s burial. It was so heartbreaking, but I just had to be strong at that moment.
Beyond this sad and unforgettable loss of the fasting priest that you were, what has marked your priesthood the most?
What has marked my priesthood the most is my deep commitment to the formation of my younger brothers in religious and priestly life. In fact, during the 25 years of priesthood that I have just completed, I have devoted 14 years (that is more than half) to the formation of young Dehonians. Formation is a noble, difficult, but also thankless task. But today, looking at these young people, who are the future of the province, I am happy and fulfilled to have rendered this delicate service to the congregation and to the Church.
With Father Léopold, your promoter, who gave us an interview before you, you have been involved at several levels of the mission of the congregation, whether in formation, in the education of young people, in parochial services or in administration. Is there a particular borrowing from our spirituality that has most characterized you personally in these different functions?
The particular borrowings of our spirituality that have most characterized me in the services I have rendered are: availability or “ecce venio”, generosity in the gift of myself for others, attention to others especially in formation and fraternal life in community from the perspective of “sint unum”. Fraternal life in community has always been of great support to me in the services I have rendered in the congregation and up to the present moment.
25 years are certainly many years, but we must also recognize that you are still rather young and full of vitality. Do you have any prospects for the future?
Of course I have projections for the future. Our postulancy trainer used to say to us: “Where you say that ‘that’s enough’, there you are dead. „ this is to say that a human being must always have projections for the future. Indeed, I would like to continue serving God, my brothers and sisters, through the responsibilities that the Congregation and my superiors will entrust me with, in all areas, including the ‘’missions ad gentes’’.
The Cameroonian province is relatively young in terms of personnel. We note out of more than 120 confreres 39 years as the average age. Do you have any advice to give to these many young Dehonians?
The advice I can give to my young confreres is to be generous, faithful and available in surrendering themselves to God in serving their brothers and sisters. This is what will make them happy and fulfilled in their life of consecration to the Lord. I urged them to make a point of honour by witnessing to Christ wherever they live and work. Most importantly, they should cultivate among themselves a true brotherhood in Christ.