A two year missionary experience (MEP) in one of the areas of involvement of the Mill Hill Missionary students is part of the training of future Mill Hill missionaries. In this article a Congolese student writes about his activities in the parish of Ilung in the archdiocese of Bamenda (Anglophone Cameroon)
Personally, in my two years of MEP, I was never really aware of timing or looking at the time I have spent in Ilung because I was passionate about what I was doing. My two years in Ilung have made me realize that when I love what I am doing, time flies very fast, it is unbelievable that I have already completed my MEP. Below are the pastoral activities that made me develop my gifts and talents and learn from others.
I involved myself freely to these pastoral activities in order to develop my gifts and talents, to learn from others through my failures and success and above all to contribute to the Mission of the Church. My main pastoral activities comprised of Home Visitation, Youth Apostolate, Sick and Elderly Ministry, Formation to the Small Christian Communities, Formation to different Commissions and Church Groups, Active Participation in the Liturgical Activities, School Ministry and Development Activities.
I believe that as a missionary, one has to go out and meet all the parishioners in their homes because our faith should not only be contained within the four walls of the Church but should be spread out to people’s houses. I always feel guilty when I blame a person for not coming to the Church when I have never visited Christ who is the head of the Church in the home of the person concerned. Throughout my two years of MEP, I have involved myself in this ministry. Through this ministry, I realised that despite of the majority of people being economically poor, some suffering from serious illnesses, a few girls being forced into early marriages, the Anglophone crisis, and the issues of polygamy and wife inheritance, Ilung people are very welcoming, generous, humble, hardworking, friendly, social and caring.
If we would like to have a better Christian and citizen, Family, Small Christian Community, Mission Station, Parish, Country and a better Church of tomorrow, then the formation of young people is not an option but compulsory. This is my observation after working with the youths for two years. Youth apostolate has helped me to share the hopes and joys of the youth, as well as their sorrows and trials. There are five youth groups in the parish, though one is not active now since the school is not functioning, the Young Catholic Students. Therefore, we have four groups: the Vocation Group, Mass Servers, Cadets of Mary and Young Catholic Workers.
Through this ministry, I was able to help young people to discover their talents, to face life and its challenges maturely, to actively participate in Church activities and to cater for their needs with an intention of fostering growth in all spheres of life through seminars, retreats, recollections, general doctrine, youth rallies, sports and pastoral activities, visitation of the sick and the old people.
Sick and Elderly Ministry
In the words of Brian Croft, when we visit the sick “God uses us, even though we can be insensitive, fumble our words, and have glaring weaknesses, that can make us painfully ineffective, God is powerful and gracious and he will use us to fulfil his purpose”. This is the message I always give to the young people, since I do this ministry together with them. I have done this ministry for one year. It was through home visitation that I realised that it was necessary to start this ministry. There were many sick and old people who are unable to come to Church. Therefore, I started this ministry to reach out to them. While visiting these people we carry out different activities: prayers, Communion Services, manual labour, cleaning their houses, fetching water for them and slashing the grass in their compounds. Together with youth we bring along items such as firewood, soap, sugar, salt, clothes, etc.
Formation of the Small Christian Communities and Church Groups
After one year of our Pastoral work, we evaluated the growth of the parish and we realised that there was a need for formation that would involve all Christians. The formation team gave this training to a few leaders of SCCs but most of them have migrated to the Southwest. This has made the growth of the parish a bit difficult, therefore, we decided to give the formation to all the SCCs. The Chart above shows that if an individual Christian is not active the family will not be active. This will affect the Small Christian Community. Once the Small Christian Community is not active a parish will hardly grow. Therefore, the Mission of the Church will hardly be fulfilled. I have given the formation to some mission stations, I hope the Pastoral team will continue, since the formation has already started bearing good fruits.
During my pastoral involvement I have also been dealing with different groups and commissions: The Catechetical commission, the youth apostolate commission, the vocational commission, Liturgical commission and the Small Christian Communities, as well as the following groups CWA: Catholic Women Association and CMA: Catholic Men Association. We organise seminars to empower them. I also attend their meetings and give some talks.
Patrick Lonkoy Bolengu mhm