DEHON’S FORMATION HOUSE, Bamenda-Cameroon
« We will build our house Lord on the rock of our word, we will build our house on your love » Claude Tassin
The Dehon’s Formation Community of Bamenda is a formation community perched on top of a small hill in Ntasen, one of the 27 small villages in the Bamenda III subdivision in the Mezam Division of the North-West Region of Cameroon. This village, whose population is increasing day by day, is multicultural mixed with numerous religious communities, but dominated by Christianity. About 400 families lives there, with a total of about 5500 inhabitants. From an ecclesial point of view, the village of Ntasen houses the St. Luke’s Chapel, a « mission station » of the Saint John the Baptist parish, Foncha Street-Nkwen. And this mission station has approximately 150 Catholic Christian families (over 400) unequally grouped in 4 Small Christian Communities (SCC).
Our Community: a divine work. To resume in a way the words of Brother Guilain Armel Djatché in the preambles of the chronicle book of our community, it must be said that a religious community can’t be reducible to its human and visible dimension. It has its very source from Christ, the Son of the living God who through his Holy Spirit dwells in us and gathers us together. « From the Heart of Jesus, opened on the cross, » says Father Dehon, « born man with a new heart, animated by the Spirit, and united to his brothers in a community of charity that is the Church » (RV 2). Our Community is above all a work of Christ and also called to unite explicitly her religious and apostolic life to the repairing oblation of Christ to the Father for humanity (RV3), according to the charism of our founder, the Venerable Father JohnLeon Dehon.
From the historical point of view, we remember that the idea of creating a formation community in Bamenda is an initiative of the Province of Cameroon, whose concern was to divide up the formative curriculum in the two linguistic areas of Cameroon, in order to encourage among young confreres who are preparing for Sacred Orders, a common use of French and English and gradually to embark the whole province in this outburst of bilingualism. This project will be approved and supported by the General Government, whose material support via the FAG (General Assistance Fund) for its concrete implementation has been considerable. Other Provinces, particularly Germany, have generously supported the work.
The construction work that began in 2011 will officially end in September 2014 under the expertise of the entrepreneur Tchoffo Cypence. But already in its session of June 24, 2013, the Provincial Council appoints a team to organize, structure, give life and vitality to the new community. August 18, 2013 marks the arrival of the first member of the community, Brother Achille Tekadam Tiave. On September 02, 2013 the first Eucharist was celebrated in the House in the presence of Father Guy Bertrand Wabo who arrived a day before, Bursar of the community. Two weeks later, six neo-professed confreres freshly arrived from the novitiate for philosophy studies settled at their own turn in the House (Nono Beauclair brothers, Tiayong Herve, Ngoule Tite, Kuissi Tagne Paulin, Maurice Douanla Mboukeu and Clovis Bupsila). The 21st of the same month marks the arrival of the superior Father Jean Marie Ngombou. On September 30, eleven candidates admitted to the pre-postulancy also trod the soil of Ntasen, thus closing the establishment of the community for this inaugural year 2013. They are: Desmond Kang, Happy Hedmond Rostan, Touadé Fotso Charles Lwanga, Tata Charles Tinku, Aponfeu Kejemto Ghislain, Sylvain-Marie Eleme, Tsafack Evaris Carlos, Melachio Tchuidjio Pytagor, Fotie Idriss Duhamel and Ngnintedem Romeo. But the birth certificate of this new-born Community of the Province will be formalized at the same time by the written authorization to form a community of the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Ntasen, which the Archbishop of Bamenda signs on September 19th 2013 and the decree of canonical erection established a few days later by the Provincial Superior. From 09 to 12 October 2013 the Provincial Superior, Father Léopold Mfouakouet made his first visit to the community where he celebrated on October 12 the solemn mass of reception of the pre-postulants and the official opening of the year.
Since its creation in 2013, the Dehon’s Formation Community has already welcomed 4 generations of pre-postulants and this year the fifth. It should also be noted that in its structure, the Community of Dehon’s Formation House experienced a change in its head in August 2015 with the departure of the first superior of the Community Father Ngombou Jean Marie and the arrival of Father Charles Aimé Koudjou as second superior, who will be followed by Father Wilfrid Zibi a few months later; With the appointment in August 2017 of Father Francis Domleu as Assistant Postulancy Master, the formation team is now taking the form of a polygon with four summits to represent the four Evangelists: Father Charles Aimé Koudjou, Father Guy Bertrand Wabo Father Wilfrid Zibi and Father Francis Domleu Djoko.
The vocation of the community: The Dehon’s Formation House of Bamenda has as its mission to be a hospitable ground and a place of formation for both pre-postulants and pre-novices as well as Scholastic confreres in philosophical studies. But at the same time it offers a framework favorable to the confreres for a time of retreat, rest, healing, but also to many other religious retreating men and women, Catholic Christians as well as faithfuls of other religions, Ecclesial groups and associations. Some visits remain particularly engraved in the annals of our community: that of the Vicar General of the Congregation on November 27, 2013, accompanied by the General Councilor for Africa, the provincials of Germany and the Philippines, all of whom came to Cameroon for the first time on the occasion of the closing celebration of the Centennial of the Province; the visit of the general team of bursars on March 12, 2014 and the surprising but very comforting visit of Archbishop Cornelius Esua of Bamenda on June 4, 2014.
On a pastoral level, the Dehon’s Formation House community gives support to the Saint Luc Mission Station of Ntasen, to the French-speaking communities of All Saints Parish of Bayelle, Ntaafi Parish and Saint Gregory Francophone Chaplaincy Ntamulong.
In addition to the formation and for self-care needs, the community carries out some agro-pastoral activities: animal farming of pigs, rabbits, broilers and even layers; she is engaged in farming crops like potatoes, maize and beans.
May all the members of our community, from generation to generation engage with Christ to remedy sin and the lack of love in the Church and in the world, to give back to them, all their lives, their prayers, their works, their sufferings and their joys, the worship of love and reparation which his heart desires.
Vivat cor Jesu