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Catholic Priest in Cameroon Appeals for Construction of “more retirement homes” for Clergy

Cover page of the new book titled, “The Reality of Retirement: A complex emergency,” by Fr. George Tomrila Ngalim. Credit: Fr. George Tomrila Ngalim

A Catholic Priest in Cameroon is appealing for the construction of appropriate additional facilities for members of the Clergy in retirement in the Central African nation, whose numbers are on the increase. 

In a Wednesday, January 12 interview with ACI Africa, Fr. George Tomrila Ngalim said, “Presbyteries are no longer safe and comfortable for retired Priests to live in.”

“It is time for our Dioceses to take steps to positively put in place measures that would ensure that after the Priests have served diligently and faithfully, they do not become dejected, relegated and quarantined to some obscure corners without proper care,” Fr. Ngalim told ACI Africa.

The member of the Clergy of Cameroon’s Bamenda Archdiocese said, “It is inconceivable that a Priest should offer his life in service to the Church and end up neglected.”

“He deserves material and spiritual care from the Diocese he has given his life in service to,” Fr. Ngalim added.

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Like in most African countries, members of the Clergy who retire in Cameroon are commissioned to Parishes where some continue to serve, Fr. Ngalim observed, and noted, “The young Priests who serve in these Parishes don’t have time to take care of the needs of these retired Priests.”

“Retired Priests need a lot of attention. Some of them are sick and need someone to take care of their health, control their diet, ensure they exercise enough and many more,” the Cameroonian Priest who authored the book, “The Reality of Retirement: A complex emergency,” told ACI Africa January 12.

He explained, “When Parish houses were constructed, they did not take into consideration the challenges of retired Priests who are bound to live there. These buildings have stairs making movement difficult. The doors also are not appropriate for wheelchairs.”

Fr. Ngalim spoke about his 2010 study examining the challenges retired Priests in Cameroon face in which he sampled Bamenda Archdiocese.

He said, “I discovered that more than 80 percent of retired Priests preferred to live in a retirement home than in Parishes.”

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The study also established that most young Priests “did not receive appropriate training to take care of the needs of retired Priests.”

The Cameroonian Priest who is the Director of projects in Bamenda Archdiocese told ACI Africa during the January 12 interview, “Because of my research, the Archdiocese of Bamenda is now building a retirement home for Priests. This is an example other Dioceses should follow.”

“By providing a retirement home for priests in our Archdiocese, we acknowledge the critical role of our Priests to our Catholic faith,” he said, and added, “I think it would give peace of mind to many of our retired Priests to know that they are going to be living with and supporting one another in their retirement years.”

“Our Bishops should consider putting in place strategies to help Dioceses set up retirement homes for our Priests,” Fr. Ngalim emphasized, and implored, “Let us continue to pray for our Priests especially those who are on retirement. May the Lord continue to strengthen them.”