, 29 May, 2020 / 4:11 AM
The need for priests to be messengers of hope especially during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis has been emphasized at the celebration of the previously postponed Chrism Mass in Cameroon’s Diocese of Kumbo.
The Thursday, May 28 celebration had been postponed from the usual Holy Thursday date due to COVID-19 restrictions, which the government of Cameroon put in place to curb the spread of the disease in the central African nation.
“We have lived through a crisis for a long time now and people may lose hope. The real appeal I have is for ministers of God, the Priests, to be messengers of hope,” Bishop George Nkuo said in his homily during the Eucharistic celebration.
“As agents of hope, we Priests, in the spirit of love must endeavor to widen our horizon of those to whom we minister. We must encourage them to be brave and courageous because our Risen Lord is with us even now,” the Bishop said during the May 28 celebration that took place at St. Theresa’s Cathedral, Kumbo.
According to him, Priests need to “assure the people that Christ has not abandoned them and that even this virus that is threatening the whole world, will come to pass.”
If Priests exhibit the kind of leadership that fosters hope among the people of God, the Bishop said, members of their respective congregations will gain “the ability to recover from the crisis and move on.”
A few Clergy and lay faithful from three out of the six deaneries of the diocese took part in the Eucharistic celebration, which was live streamed on Facebook.
Bishop Nkuo who doubles as the President of Bamenda Province Ecclesiastical Conference (BAPEC) reminded the Priests that the commitment each of them made during his ordination to the Priesthood was significant in challenging times as these occasioned by COVID-19.
“During a time of crisis like this, those commitments we make at ordination are more important than ever, especially the call to offer daily Eucharistic sacrifice for our people, for the world and for ourselves,” the Local Ordinary of Kumbo said.
He added, “Our calling at Chrism means, in this crisis, to be with our people, to encourage them, to bring them home, consolation by word and the sacraments.”
He called on the Priests ministering in his diocese to reflect on what it means to be a Priest posing such as, “Who am I in the midst of this crisis for our world, for our diocese, for our people, for the parish where I serve? Who am I as a Priest when so many of the normal opportunities for pastoral interaction and ministry with my people have been constrained?”
The Cameroonian Prelate also said that the global pandemic has “accorded us (priests) the opportunity to look at our ministry as Priests through a new lens.”
With this reality, Bishop Nkuo said, clerics should acknowledge that “just as in other areas of life people are pressed to focus on other essentials of life, so too in our ministry we are invited by dint of circumstances to focus on a vital component of our service to the people of God.”
During the celebration, the 67-year-old Prelate lifted the temporary suspension on celebration of daily Masses in all “parish Churches and Chapels” of Kumbo diocese effective Pentecost Sunday, May 31.
In April, he had re-instituted the public Celebration of Holy Masses for Sundays only.
“There will be a rigorous application of sanitizing as well as clear social distancing in our seating arrangements in our Churches,” Bishop Nkuo said in reference to the daily public Mass, adding that his decision to lift the suspension on daily Mass was based on the hope that everyone will collaborate in keeping the safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
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.
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