From March 9 to April 13, Father Carlos Luis Suarez visits the SCJs in Cameroon. This is the first trip during the pandemic. How will this visit take place in times of pandemic? What are the measures taken? What are the objectives? We interviewed Fr. Jean Marie Signié, Provincial Superior.
The Superior General will make his first major journey since this period of a health crisis. What situation will he encounter in Cameroon?
We have been waiting for this trip for a year. Already last year, the Superior General’s journey had been cancelled because of the pandemic. This year again it comes at a time when there is a resurgence of the pandemic in the world and Cameroon. He will therefore meet a province and a country on alert, where the barrier measures against the pandemic are again reinforced. The Cameroonian government had even just recalled some measures, but which will not lead to the closure of borders.
What are the most important moments of the Superior General’s visit program?
Everything will be important. But we can mention for example the visit to the communities. We have planned for him to visit each of our communities for at least one hour. It will be very important for him to meet with the confreres in each community. The other important moment will be the visit of the mission in Chad. But also the new mission that we reopened three years ago in the far north of Cameroon, close to Chad. There will also be a provincial assembly that will be held after Easter. We hope to find a way to hold this provincial assembly with of course a representative number of the province since the government has just banned gatherings of more than 50 people. But it will be an important moment for Father General to meet a certain number of confreres together, from different communities and also from the provincial commissions.
Because of the current health crisis, are there any particular measures that have been taken?
Of course! In all our communities, preventive measures will be further reinforced, to follow the instructions of our communities: distance, when we are at the table or in the chapel, but also, all persons entering our communities will have to wear their protective masks, not to mention the containers for washing hands at the entrances to our different houses.
It should be remembered that the Superior General will spend a little more than a month in Cameroon. What are the expectations of the Cameroon Province?
Expectations are high. The confreres are waiting for Father General to arrive and touch the realities of this province, which is a young province. His stay will last about five weeks so that he will have time to touch our realities, to speak sincerely with each confrere. It also comes at a time when we are in the process of consultation for a new provincial Administration. We all hope that this visit will be a time for Father General to listen, to look so that the new administration that will be named, that he can do so with full knowledge of the facts, having come himself to see what needs to be done, but also to bring afterwards the joys and hopes of this young province to the rest of the congregation.
Last February 13 was the launch of the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the provincialization of Cameroon. What can you tell the General and the rest of the congregation about this?
Thank you for remembering this event which is important for us. It has been 25 years since Cameroon became a province. In fact, during the jubilees, we organize big celebrations. But we have chosen instead to evaluate the road travelled during these 25 years: what has Cameroon brought to the congregation in its mission, starting from the apostolic project; and what can we still do to carry the charism and spirituality of the congregation high and far. We will share the first fruits of this evaluation with the Superior General during the provincial assembly, which I mentioned earlier. And I can already invite the other entities of the congregation to pray for us, to accompany us through this year, so that the Lord may enlighten us to reflect better to see how we can still move forward to better participate in the mission of the congregation and of the Church here in Cameroon as disciples of Christ through father Dehon.
A word of welcome?
Of course! On behalf of the entire Province of Cameroon, I welcome father Carlos Luis Suarez We warmly welcome you to our beautiful country and our beautiful Province.