, 23 October, 2019 / 11:16 PM
In the footsteps of Saint John Paul II who called for a year dedicated to the Virgin Mary in 1987, Mamfe diocese in the southwest region of Cameroon recently launched a Marian Year for Peace to give Christians the opportunity to give special honor to Our Lady, seeking her maternal intercession for peace to return in the Anglophone regions faced with a three-year conflict.
“We need to start praying for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Fatima for the end of this war, for the end of this crisis,” Bishop Andrew Nkea Fuanya of Mamfe told ACI Africa Tuesday, October 22, referencing the yearlong prayer session, which he officially launched October 13.
The launch was marked by a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, Mboka, in the outskirts of Mamfe.
“It was a very big celebration, practically all the parishes were represented. And we just prayed the 20 Mysteries of the Rosary after which we had a concelebrated mass with all the priests of the diocese in attendance to pray for peace,” the Local Ordinary of Mamfe recounted to ACI Africa in Nairobi where he is attending a continental conference on trauma among Church personnel.
Recalling how the ongoing crisis in Cameroon started in his diocese, Bishop Nkea said, “Mamfe was the first place that they (military) started shooting and burning houses and because of that we have been very much involved in the activities of the crisis.”
The Cameroonian Bishop traced the decision for a year-long prayer session to a diocesan meeting saying, “I told the Christians that as a diocese we must pray for peace. So, we sat down in our pastoral council and decided upon a Marian Year for Peace.”
The purpose of the Marian Year for Peace, the Bishop explained, is “to increase the faith of Christians and their devotion to the Virgin Mother, asking for her intercession to save our nation from the current crisis.”
“The Blessed Virgin Mary in the battle of Lepanto was the main source of intercession for the war to be won by the Christians. During the First World War the prediction about the end of the war was done by the Blessed Virgin Mary,” he said.
“So, we have all those places where Our Lady appeared (to) bring peace to the people. It is also our hope that she does the same for Mamfe and for Cameroon,” Bishop Nkea told ACI Africa.
During the year-long prayer session, Christians are expected to participate in seminars, workshops and pilgrimages in order to have a better understanding of the Catholic devotion to Mary and her role in the salvation of mankind and bringing peace, the Bishop said.
“During this Marian Year we are going to lay emphasis on catechesis in various parishes on the importance of the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary,” Bishop Nkea told ACI Africa and added, “We are going to also focus on the virtues of the Blessed Virgin Mary, her patience, her love and her acceptance of suffering, because we are going through a lot of suffering.”
“We want to (make) profound the way Our Lady accepted suffering, the way she accompanied her son Jesus Christ in his passion,” the Bishop said and added, “We are also accompanying our brothers and sisters in their passion, we ourselves are going through suffering but we want to use Our Lady as our model in the face of this crisis.”
According to the Prelate, the calendar of activities that will run till October 13, 2020 has been availed to all parishes in his diocese.
“Parishes, institutions, groups of religious and lay faithful now have a chance to go for a pilgrimage at the shrine in Mboka. Every weekend there will be a group there on pilgrimage to pray for peace,” he disclosed and added, “We are confident that these intensive prayers we are making for one full year will bring peace to our nation.”
While encouraging every Christian family to pray for peace during the Marian year, the Cameroonian Prelate said that an invocation: “Mary Queen of peace, Pray for us” is recited 10 times every day at the end of each decade of the Rosary.
“We are invoking Mary Queen of peace to help bring peace to our country,” Bishop Nkea concluded.
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