Visit from Bishop Aloysius Fondong Abangolo, Mamfe Diocese

to Nürtingen, St Johannes Sat. 16th - Wed. 20th Sept. 2023

The Afrika Work Group has been in partnership with Mamfe diocese in Cameroon since 2004. Bishop Aloysius Fondong Abangolo is the third bishop of the diocese. He was invested in May 2022, and we greatly appreciate that he took the time to visit us after just one year in office and honoured us with his first visit to Germany.

Bishop Aloysius flew in from his Ad Limina visit to Pope Francis in Rome. That very evening he celebrated the Eucharist with us in St Johannes. There followed a most informative and lively discussion on the political and social situation in anglophone Cameroon and the Afrika Work Group's projects in Mamfe diocese. Our current focus is on education and feeding for the children.

A particular highlight of the evening was the surprise visit from Dr Joy Alemazong, mayor of Heubach, (Schwäbisch Gmünd). Dr Alemazong and Bishop Aloysius had been school friends and it was a very moving moment when they embraced again after more than thirty years on the altar of St Johannes.


In the church hall a short Deutsch Welle film on the current social upheaval in anglophone Cameroon was shown. The film "A Priest and the Fight for More Education" is as disturbing as it informative: in the increasingly violent conflict between English-speaking separatists and the French-speaking government, the schools are particularly hard-hit. Government schools have been closed for seven years, and the separatists dictate the opening and closing of church and private schools. In the face of the real threat of a "lost generation" who have not attended any school, our support of Mamfe Diocese School Feeding Programme is encouraging parents to send their children back to school. Our modest scholarship programme, financed by our parishioners, pays the school fees for as many orphans and needy children as we can - currently 15.

On Sunday Bishop Aloysius shared with us the most urgent needs of the diocese. He envisions a Youth Centre to empower those young people who have lost out on an education due to the civil upheavals. And it is high time that Mamfe move from expensive, inefficient, and environmentally harmful generator power to solar power. There is plenty more work to be done.

Monday was in the spirit of ecumenism. Dekanin Frau Kohler-Weiß took the time to show a most interested bishop around the church of St. Laurentius. Bishop Aloysius then enjoyed a cup of fair, Cameroonian coffee in Nürtingen's "Weltladen".

Lunch was with the mayor, Dr Fridrich. Listening to the challenges faced in Mamfe indeed helped Dr Fridrich to put our local challenges into another perspective! He will be happy to point us in the right direction if he can as we address future projects with Mamfe.

On Tuesday we were warmly welcomed in Rottenburg by Dr Reichert and Frau Rizzi from the Universal Church dept. The detail of the situation in anglophone Cameroon was distressing, yet equally impressive is the unwavering faith and hope of our sisters and brothers in Mamfe. Bishop Aloysius' prime objective is to be visibly there for them.

Tuesday afternoon brought a real highlight - our long-planned visit to our local newspaper Nürtinger Zeitung to express a deep appreciation of their contribution to Mamfe's Feeding Programme through the "Light of Hope Charity Appeal". As Bishop Aloysius summed up: "Thank you for bringing light and hope to the people of Mamfe". He underlined the importance of education in taking just two examples: himself and the mayor Dr Joy Alemazung. The fact that both are active in exposed professions, although they come from families with nine and fourteen children respectively, has, in their view, one decisive reason: a good education. That is why education is so important to Bishop Aloysius.

After four days full of constructive dialogue and insight Bishop Aloysius had to take his leave on Wednesday, but not without a further important insight: a visit to the company Metallbau Schreiber in Wolfschlugen which provided the bishop with a wholly new perspective on life in Germany and Europe, far from the ecclesiastical realms.

We are extremely grateful for time shared, insights gained, experiences recounted, a growth in mutual understanding and, above all, new inspiration in our partnership. Mamfe and Nürtingen lie globally far apart, yet we share the same deep hopes, aspirations, and faith.

Africa Work Group

Anne O'Callaghan

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