Missionary Institute of Consecrated Life Records “numerical growth, expansion” in Cameroon: Official

Fr. Henry Babatunde Omonisaye who serves as Vicar General and Prefect of Bible and Communication of the Claretians. Credit: Claretian Missionaries, Cameroon

Members of the Congregation of the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (CMF/Claretians) ministering in Cameroon as an Independent Delegation have increased in number and expanded their presence in the Central African nation, an official of the Institute has said. 

Fr. Henry Babatunde Omonisaye who serves as Vicar General and Prefect of Bible and Communication of the Claretians was appointed by the Superior General of the Claretians, Fr. Mathew Vattamattam, to spearhead a Canonical Visit of the Institute in Cameroon from April 2 to May 9.

In an interview with ACI Africa at the conclusion of the Canonical Visit, Fr. Omonisaye highlighted the objectives of the mission and what he had observed. 

Credit: Claretian Missionaries, Cameroon

“I think there has been a very great improvement and growth, not just numerical growth but also missionary expansion,” the Nigerian-born Catholic Priest told ACI Africa during the May 8 interview.


He recalled his last visit to the country some four years ago, saying, “When I came the last time, they had no mission in the North in Garoua Archdiocese; there was nothing. But now we have a place; the missionaries are there; they're happy and the people more especially are very welcoming; and they're very willing to accept the message, to collaborate and also to live the gospel message.”

Fr. Omonisaye said he was happy with the “diversification of the apostolate of the (Claretian) Delegation” in Cameroon, adding, “You know, they didn't have schools then. Now they have schools in Yaounde, Garoua, Douala, Bafoussam and Bamenda. There's openness to new fronts and new periphery for missionary activity.”

Credit: Claretian Missionaries, Cameroon

The member of the Claretians since November 1991 acknowledged with appreciation the fact of “new vocations” to the institute in Cameroon. 

He said, “This means Cameroon can participate more in the universal mission of the Congregation. They can tell Father General we also have people available in case we need missionaries outside of Cameroon because you have both the availability and the personnel.”

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“The formation houses where our students are formed here are very effective. You have for instance, in theology 41 students from 9 countries and 6 provinces,” Fr. Omonisaye who was ordained a Priest in July 1999 said, adding, “It means then that the formation that they receive here in Cameroon has a lot of consequences in places outside of Cameroon, and that's why we insist on the seriousness of this formation.”

Credit: Claretian Missionaries, Cameroon

“If the formation is assured and they are well formed, then you can be sure that the future is bright. If they are not well formed you will have mediocres all over the place,” the Vicar General and Prefect of Bible and Communication of the Claretians further said. 

Despite these improvements and growth, he noted that much is yet to be done, including monitoring and evaluation of the apostolate and mission.

Credit: Claretian Missionaries, Cameroon


“In organizing this new apostolate, at some point you pause, and you evaluate and you say, OK, the objectives you set for yourself are you achieving them, or is the context saying something else so that you have to change your strategy of evangelization?” Fr. Omonisaye posed.

Such pausing and evaluating, the member of the Holy See's Agency for the Evaluation and Promotion of Quality in Ecclesiastical Universities and Faculties (AVEPRO) said, has to be done “from time to time and in the course of the canonical visit one looks at all of these and then you can make recommendations, suggestions, things they need to improve.”

Credit: Claretian Missionaries, Cameroon

On whether the Cameroonian Independent Delegation of the Claretians can be a Province, the Vicar General of the Institute said, “It's not just because of the numbers that one will say therefore you are ready to be a Province. There are a whole lot of elements that are put together.”

Fr. Omonisaye recalled that in March 2023, the Institute sent a letter to “all the provinces to let them know of the requirements for and the criteria for that type of growth”, and said about Claretians in Cameroon, “They are on the path and gradually they will get to that level.”

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Credit: Claretian Missionaries, Cameroon

Reflecting on the objective of the Canonical visit, the Nigerian Claretian Priest said, “It helps to fortify the connection we have with our fraternity with each other within the community within the Province, within the delegation.”

Credit: Claretian Missionaries, Cameroon

“It also connects the entire Delegation to the whole Congregation so they don't think they are just on their own,” he added.

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.