Commenting on the laxity of the Church to respond to the kidnappers’ threat, the Seminarian says, “Bishops, though political as every other human being and despite their flaws, have always tried to mediate between the two camps in order to establish peace and justice. So, not complying completely to the dictates of the separatists has been a way of pointing out their extremist position.”
His other fear, Seminarian Chimenyi says, is that he may not attain the full stature of his formation program “due to the dictates of the violent environment.”
The start of the Anglophone crisis in 2017 marked the beginning of Seminarian Chimenyi’s troubled formation when the Academic Year 2016/2017 was tagged null and void, and the General Certificate of Education (GCE) he had just sat disqualified, halting his idea to join the Major Seminary.
“After succeeding in my A’ Levels’ exams to the satisfaction of the admissions’ requirements of the Mill Hill Missionaries, I still missed being admitted that year,” the 26-year-old shared, adding that he was forced to repeat Upper Sixth class in order to obtain an internationally valid GCE A Level’s certificate.
A year later, he joined St. Aloysius’ Minor Seminary, in Cameroon’s Kumbo Diocese, where he says he obtained a good certificate, adding, “My motivations to the Priesthood were further refined and focused.”
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Seminarian Chimenyi recalls several instances he has been forced to study remotely as his Formation House remained closed owing to heightened violence.
He attests to having endured “very challenging times” in his Formation House, and explains, “My batch in particular has missed two 12-week Summer Pastoral Experiences due to the insecurity.”
“The prolonged periods of lockdowns and ghost towns, coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic crisis necessitated the University where we study philosophy to introduce online classes. That program was a hell-like experience due to the bad network system and fluctuating supply of electricity,” he says, adding that the bad experiences have, however, strengthened his pastoral engagements as a Seminarian.
Sharing his inspiration to become a Priest against all odds in the embattled country, the Seminarian, who is presently on Mission Experience Program in Kenya’s Malindi Diocese, says that he was first deeply drawn to a Missionary Priest’s vestment that symbolized martyrdom.
“Like Moses in the Bible whose call began with a physical sign, the burning bush, my very first inspiration towards the Missionary Priesthood came from my admiration for the official vestment, the ‘red sarge’. I was attracted to the vestment without knowing what it signifies. I later learnt that it meant martyrdom and the readiness by Missionaries to spill their blood for Christ,” Seminarian Chimenyi narrated.
He added, “I also had the unique opportunity to look after a Mill Hill Priest, Fr. Willhem Op De Weigh, for about one month during his last moment of illness before he left Cameroon. During those moments, I got in touch with the Christo-centric Spirituality, shown in constant prayer, and simple life-style of the MHM.”
The two aspects, he says, served as his initial inspiration to join the Society of MHM in 2018.
“Having spent four years now in formation, my initial motivations with their impurities are being purified to focus on Christ’s salvific mission in the world through the Mill Hill Missionaries – to bring good news to the poor, proclaim liberty to those in captivity through Loving Service as her motto stipulates, ‘To Love and to Serve – Amare et Servire,’” Seminarian Chimenyi told ACI Africa.
Asked what keeps him soldiering on towards his missionary and Priestly vocation, the Seminarian said, “It is the love I have for the gentle unfolding of Christ’s purpose in my life, revealed to me in the different experiences of my personal, spiritual, academic and most of all pastoral life as a Seminarian.”
Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.