In 1974 the dioceses of Bamenda and Portsmouth were formally twinned. Bamenda is the capital of North West Province in Cameroon, West Africa. In 1970 the Bamenda Diocese had been created and Paul Verdzekov appointed as the first bishop. Later the diocese of Kumbo was split from Bamenda and Cornelius Esua appointed its bishop. In January 2006 Archbishop Paul retired to be replaced by Archbishop Cornelius who today is assisted by Bishop Agapitus.
Back in 1974 the first missionaries from Portsmouth went out to Bamenda to spread the Gospel.
Today that situation is now reversed and, as from the autumn of 2015, six priests from Bamenda Diocese will be ministering in our Diocese of Portsmouth.
In 2014 we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the link with delegations from both dioceses visiting each other. Over the past 40 years more than £1,000,000 raised by Portsmouth Diocese has been spent on supporting projects in Bamenda in collaboration with the local communities in the areas of Faith, Health, Education and Social Welfare. More details on this work can be seen under the Projects Section of the website.
The Portsmouth Bamenda Committee serves this link on behalf of the Diocese as a channel of information and mutual support, and by administering the funds that are contributed from the annual Bamenda Sunday collection and from parishes and other organisations/institutions who have taken on specific projects.
Profile of priest from Bamenda serving in Portsmouth.
Born on 14 June I962 to a family of 9, Fr Bernardine Nsom spent all of his childhood days in Bamenda, coming into direct contact with the Portsmouth priests right from the foundation of the Portsmouth-Bamenda link. With the help of Fr Michael Eugene Peters, now chaplain of St Mary’s Bitterne, Fr Bernardine gained admission in 1975 to the Minor Seminary of Soppo Buea; something that was not originally in his mind. In fact, he left the seminary for public Secondary High School in 1980, not convinced of the call. However, after some soul searching, he decided to move to the Major Seminary in 1982. That proved to be a journey with lots of twists and turns before it finally brought him to ordination to the sacred priesthood in 1992. Since being ordained, Fr Bernardine has spent most of his ministry in Catholic Education: as headteacher in two coeducational secondary and high schools; as Rector of the Propaedeutic or Spiritual Year and, shortly before coming to our diocese, as parish priest in Batibo where he was ordained twenty five years ago.
Then, as Fr Bernardine himself explained: ‘Through the Porstmouth-Bamenda link, I was privileged to study a Master’s in Educational Management at the University of Southampton in 1997-99’. In 2013, Archbishop Cornelius F. Esua, suggested that he come to Portsmouth with a brother priest, Fr George Ngwa, as part of the link. Since his return to our diocese, he has served at Queen of Peace Parish (Southbourne), Sacred Heart Parish (Bournemouth) and now as Parish Priest at The Annunciation and Edmund Campion (Maidenhead) along with Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception (Westbourne). Fr Bernardine also holds responsibility as Pastoral Area Coordinator for Bournemouth. ‘It has really been exciting seeing the Portsmouth-Bamenda link grow from its beginnings to what it is now. I thank the Good Lord for this opportunity he has given to me, not only to share our riches from Bamenda with our sister Church, but also to learn from the riches of this diocese.