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Newly Appointed Bishop in Cameroon Says He’ll Foster Unity “for the growth of Diocese"

Fr. François Achille Eyabi, appointed Bishop of Cameroon's Eseka Diocese by Pope Francis Saturday, November 14, 2020.

The newly appointed Bishop for Cameroon’s Eseka Diocese has told ACI Africa in an interview that he will seek to foster unity among the people of God under his pastoral care for the growth of the local Church.

Pope Francis’ appointment of Fr. François Achille Eyabi as the Bishop of Eseka was announced, Saturday, November 14  by Archbishop Samuel Kleda of Douala Archdiocese at the Our Lady of Fatima Cathedral of Eseka Diocese and published by the Holy See Press Office.

“I want the Christians to know that I come with a heart that loves them all and I would like us to work together for the growth of our diocese,” the Bishop-elect told ACI Africa November 14 soon after his appointment became public.

The 59-year-old Cameroonian Cleric added in reference to the people of God who will be under his pastoral care, “I wish them a lot of courage because they lost their Bishop in quite difficult circumstances. I ask them to remain firm in their faith and be hopeful.” 

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The Diocese of Eseka has been vacant since August 2018 following the death of Bishop Dieudonné Bogmis who had served the Diocese from April 1999. He died at the age of 63.

Announcing the appointment of the Bishop-elect November 14, Archbishop Kleda said, “I wish to inform you that the Holy Father has appointed a new Bishop for the Diocese of Eseka. He is Fr. François Achille Eyabi, until now Episcopal Vicar and Parish Priest of the Cathedral.”

The Cameroonian Archbishop added, “On behalf of the Bishops of the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon (NECC), I would like to congratulate Mgsr. Achille Eyabi for his new mission and invite the people of God in Eseka to give him their support and keep him in their prayers.

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A Clergy of the Edea Diocese in Cameroon’s littoral region, Bishop-elect Eyabi who is expected to become the third Local Ordinary of Eseka at a date yet-to-be decided upon was ordained a Priest in July 1988.

Having lived his Priesthood under the inspiration of St. Paul’s message in 2 Corinthians 12:9, the Bishop-elect told ACI Africa that he plans to continue basing his Episcopacy on the same message, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

He explained, “I am once again responding to God's call. It is God who calls me and sends me. You don't take on the mission, you receive God's mission, he tells me to get up and go, I get up and go and I know that he will take care of the rest because that has always been my motto.”

“I would like to, first of all, give glory to God because it is He who through the Holy Father gave me this mission. I also want to thank the Holy Father for having chosen my humble person,” the Bishop-elect told ACI Africa November 14.

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Asked about the possible plans he foresees as Local Ordinary of the Diocese of Eseka, he said, “I am not a politician who has made a promise and is voted based on that promise.”

“I have no prior plans because it is not me who makes the plans; it is not me who is the author of the mission; it is God who is the author of the mission and through what He will tell me as I go along, I will discover what needs to be done and I will accomplish it,” the Bishop-elect clarified.

He continued, “I am a man of God who has received God's call and does what God asks of me. I am going to Eseka counting on the Holy Spirit to inspire me every day on what to do for the people of God so that the mission can be successful.”

The Bishop-elect holds a doctorate in Sacred Theology from Rome-based Pontifical Urban University obtained in 2000.

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In his 32 years of Priesthood, the Cameroonian Bishop-elect has served in various capacities in the Diocese of Edea including as Parish Priest, Parish Vicar, Vicar General and Rector of the Preparatory Seminary (2001-2004), and Rector of the Paul VI Provincial Major Seminary of Theology of Douala (2005-2011), among other responsibilities.

He also served as military chaplain in Edea from 2011-2015.

“To my dear Christians of the Sacred Heart Cathedral parish in Edea, please pray for me, pray for my mission, and never despair. God is the strongest and the greatest so always put your trust in him,” the Bishop-elect told ACI Africa November 14.

Addressing himself to the Priests, Seminarians, and Religious men and women in the Diocese of Eseka, Mgsr. Eyabi said, “As your new Bishop, I have simply received the fullness of the Priesthood but that does not separate us as confreres.”

“We have the same mission of evangelization, the same mission of sanctification, the same mission of governance, which each one of us tries to do so that the Church functions,” the Bishop-elect said, and continued, “It is this communion between us that the Church stands to benefit in order move forward.”

With a population of about 130,500 Catholics, according to 2017 statistics, Cameroon’s Eseka Diocese was established in March 1993. It is part of the Ecclesiastical Province of Douala.