Annual Family Day of Douala Archdiocese, Cameroon: Family Apostolate Chaplain Decries Violence in Families, Urges Love

Fr. Bernard Hona Tonye hands certificates to couples with at least 15 years in marriage. Credit: Aïcha Marianne Kola

Family members need to manage conflicts and focus on nurturing love that begets peace among members, the Chaplain of the Family Apostolate in the Catholic Archdiocese of Douala has said.

In his homily on the occasion of the 11th Family Day of the Cameroonian Metropolitan See that was organized under the theme, “How to fight against violence in families”, Fr. Bernard Hona Tonye also condemned the practice of abortion as an attack on “an innocent life”.

In families, Fr. Tonye said, “There has to be love; and when we talk about love, love means peace. Yet there is conflict, violence in our families.”

Credit: Aïcha Marianne Kola

“I think we need to cultivate love in our families, for as long as there is no love, everything is impossible,” he emphasized during the May 11 Eucharistic celebration at the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral of Douala Archdiocese.


“Love means that when I find myself in a favorable condition, I have to do everything so that my brother can also flourish,” Fr. Tonye said, and added, “We mustn't find ourselves in a context of selfishness, of consent where we want to have everything all to ourselves. We all have to walk together to find ourselves one day in our true family, which is heaven.”

Credit: Aïcha Marianne Kola

There is the need to go back to the “fundamentals and the sacredness of the family, that is being convinced that marriage was instituted by God, and from marriage families are born,” the member of the Clergy of Douala Archdiocese further said.

He went on to reflect on the theme of the Family Day, highlighting various forms of violence, and levels where the vice is manifest.

“Violence manifests itself on almost every level; violence in the eyes, in language, in actions, both moral and physical; it is spiritual; it's even economic,” the Cameroonian Catholic Priest said. 

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Credit: Aïcha Marianne Kola

Violence, Fr. Tonye continued, is not “only exercised by the members of the small family that is the home church, but even by the large family.”

“When the state suffocates its inhabitants, its populations, who don't have roads, health, water, education and many more, it is another form of violence,” the Family Apostolate Chaplain, who doubles as Rector of the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral of Douala Archdiocese said. 

Credit: Aïcha Marianne Kola

He cautioned against undermining the institution of marriage and family, saying, “If our society today tries to depreciate the institution of marriage and the family, we'll be living in a context of violence.”


The Catholic Priest recalled the values that have characterized traditional African marriages, advocating for their preservation. 

“Marriage used to be one of the values of the African family and these values were also specific to other families: respect for life. respect for elders, protection of life, human dignity, hospitality, a sense of family, and this sense of family was not a sense of rejecting others, no, but of promoting true family values,” he said.

Credit: Aïcha Marianne Kola

In his May 11 homily, Fr. Tonye called upon Christian families to foster a respect for life and reject the practice of abortion.

“In abortion, you kill a human being; you take the initiative to eliminate a life; you attack an innocent life and that means you're against procreation,” he said, and added, “We have to protect human life, and that's why you see that in the countries where abortion has been legalized, Christians are taking to the streets; some have even been killed in the name of their faith.”

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Also speaking during the May 11 annual Family Day event, Aïcha Marianne Kola, one of the coordinators of the Family Apostolate in the Archdiocese of Douala, lamented, “There is an upsurge in domestic violence and all of society suffers because of domestic violence.”

The Kola Couple. Credit: Credit: Aïcha Marianne Kola

“This year's special focus was on how to curb domestic violence, or rather, how to stop it. It may be unrealistic, but it is possible to stop it,” Mrs. Kola said, referring to the theme of the annual Family Day event, and added, “The special thing was to think and see what we could do to ensure that our families live in greater harmony and peace.”

She said that the Church is “collaborating with the State to do more to bring peace to the family.”

Speaking about the award of Certificates to couples with at least 15 years in marriage, Mrs.  Kola who coordinates the Family Apostolate with her husband, Irénée Kola, said, “It was to show young couples that it's possible to be faithful in marriage despite the difficulties.”

Credit: Aïcha Marianne Kola

The awards also celebrated elderly parents, she said during the May 11 event.

“It is a grace for us as a family to have elderly people. It's important that we can celebrate them from time to time, that we can also drink from their wellsprings,” Mrs. Kola said, and added, “The celebration of longevity in marriage and the elderly are special features of this year's Family Day.”

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.