, 25 March, 2020 / 6:51 AM
As governments in Africa struggle to contain the spread of COVID-19, with some nations seeking divine intervention by holding National Prayer Days, the Catholic Church in Cameroon’s Douala Archdiocese held a prayer procession to entrust the central African state to the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
“Today Monday, we chose to entrust the city of Douala to the maternal protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary by a procession with the statue of the Virgin Mary in all neighborhoods in the city of Douala,” Archbishop Samuel Kleda told journalists at the end of the spiritual exercise Monday, March 23.
“The Priests prayed the rosary with intentions for those who have died of this disease, those who are suffering in the hospital and isolation centers and for us who are not infected,” the Archbishop of Douala added.
During the Monday, March 23 event, priests went round the ten pastoral zones of the local Church with the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
At each episcopal vicariate, the clerics and some lay faithful met and took turns meditating the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary. A prayer intention was raised for the victims of COVID-19 in the world before the recitation of any decade of the rosary.
Prior to the procession, the Archdiocese, on Saturday, March 21, celebrated Holy Mass in memory of the victims of COVID-19 throughout the world.
Having noted, during the March 21 Holy Mass, that “it is not enough to just celebrate mass,” Archbishop Kleda announced the additional spiritual exercise for Monday.
Cameroon has at least 66 confirmed cases of COVID-19. The country’s Ministry of Public Health confirmed the first death as a result of the disease Tuesday, March 24.
Following the cases of COVID-19 in the country, and acknowledging that the metropolis of Douala has not been spared by the pandemic, Archbishop Kleda issued a communique on Saturday, March 21, suspending the celebration of public Mass and church gatherings as precautionary measures.
However, “Churches will remain open for individual visits to the Blessed Sacrament,” the Cameroonian Prelate directed.
Further, Archbishop Kleda asked Priests to continue praying and celebrating Masses every day at the scheduled times for the intentions of the faithful.
He also urged the lay faithful to remain at home and “may celebrate the Way of the Cross and other devotions in the family.”
“We place our country in general, and our city in particular, under the protection of the Virgin Mary, Patroness of our country,” Archbishop Kleda concluded his Saturday statement.
Some priests who took part in Monday’s procession have expressed satisfaction with the conduct of the pilgrimage praying that the Blessed Virgin Mary intercedes for the Central African nation.
“We must emphasize here that our country Cameroon is entrusted to the Blessed Virgin Mary,” the Representative of Priests in the Archdiocese of Douala, Fr. Sebastien Mongo Behoun told ACI Africa.
He added, “In the face of crisis, we turn to her to intercede for us so that her tears will touch her son Jesus Christ to remove this dangerous virus from our midst.”
“Through the procession with the statue of the Virgin Mary, we once again reaffirm our faith and trust in God seeking the maternal protection of our Mother Mary. Let us continue to pray and we believe that God will save us from this virus,” Fr. Behoun continued.
On his part, Msgr. Paul Nyaga told ACI Africa that the Monday pilgrimage was conducted “to seek God's intervention on us, his people as we combat this coronavirus. There is nothing impossible to God and we continue to believe in Him.”
He added, “We continue to pray and hope that things will be better for our Archdiocese and our country and the world. But as we pray, we have to take the necessary measures to keep this disease away from us. Prevention is better than cure.”
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ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa