The Ndoungue Novitiate: an example of Dehonian internationality
Baptized "Sacred Heart House" on October 1, 1979, this novitiate house in Cameroon adopted the international option from the beginning.
The Dehonian novitiate house in Cameroon has not kept the same status since its beginning. At the beginning, from 1954 to 1964, it served as a religious house, and thus housed the services of the “Regionalate”. With the transfer of the religious house to Nkongsamba in 1964, it became a retreat house until 1979, the year of grace that saw the birth of the Dehonian novitiate in Cameroon. It was precisely on October 1, 1979 that the novitiate of the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Cameroon was born, with the entry into the novitiate of four young Cameroonians. From the beginning, the name of this novitiate house was given the “Sacred Heart House”, with Father François Rietsch as the first Novice Master. From its foundation, the aim of this house was internationality. The intention was to form not only young Cameroonians who felt the call to become SCJs, but also with two young Congolese and, in 1987, two Malagasy. Because of difficulties in obtaining visas for young people from Madagascar and Congo, these two entities stopped sending young people to the novitiate in Ndoungué, respectively in 1998 for Madagascar and 1999 for the DRC. For almost a decade, the novitiate of Ndoungué was reserved only for young Cameroonians, until 2010 when it regained its international character with the presence of a young Angolan (Bro. Bartholomew). For some years, this international character has been reinforced with the presence of young people from the Province of South Africa, and from time to time also from Chad where our confreres of the Cameroonian Province are present. This year, 2021-2022, the Sacred Heart House had four novices, three of whom were foreigners and only one Cameroonian. This year’s novitiate began with two Angolans, one Chadian and one Cameroonian. On August 12 we had the joy of celebrating the first profession of the three of them: Pierre Djangtoua (Chad), Loïc Arthur Metiasse Kenfack (Cameroon) and Antonio Francisco Manuel (Angola). In the video attached to this text, these novices, now Dehonian religious, share with us their experiences of the novitiate, of Dehonian spirituality, and how they see their new lives as Dehonian religious.
The novitiate of Ndoungué continues to write its letters of nobility in the great Dehonian book of formation. It has formed generations of African Dehonians who have fond memories of it. Beyond the training that takes into account internationality, it offers today an ideal setting for spiritual renewal in the midst of a nature whose beauty already introduces us to heavenly realities.