BISHOP’S NOTE

Episcopal Ordination of Mgr. George NKUO

George Nkuo I am delighted that this official Website of the Diocese of Kumbo has been established. It is with great joy that I welcome this venture and thank God that modern technology gives us the chance to be connected to the whole wide world. There are many people around the world who have never heard or seen someone from Cameroon, talkless of Kumbo. Including this website to the website of the some many other dioceses around the world that already exist, I am confident that many more people will get to know us and share our story. The year 2011 is the preparatory year towards the celebration of the great jubilee of the Diocese of Kumbo. A hundred years (December 31st 1912-2012) have gone by since the arrival of the Catholic Faith to Kumbo. I am sure the Universal Church around the world; in Europe, America, Latin America, Asia and Africa will continue to grow in the love of God and of his Church. I invite all who browse our website to support the Church in Kumbo by praying for its Bishop, Priests, Consecrated Persons and the Laity. we are open to possible suggestions in any area of interest to you. Thank you for being part of the Diocese of Kumbo. May God who is Love teach you how to love and serve him. God bless you. + George NKUO

DIOCESAN HISTORY

The Diocese of Kumbo was established on March 18, 1982, within territory taken from the Archdiocese of Bamenda. It is a suffragan see of Bamenda along with the Dioceses of Buea and Mamfe. The Diocese of Kumbo situated in the grass field area of the North West of Region of Cameroon covers a surface area of 8,000square kilometers (3,090 Square Miles) with a population of approximately 771,664 of whom over 151,971 are Catholics.

On 1st October 1890, the first group of Pallotine Missionaries embarked on the German steamer ‘Petropolis’ en route to Cameroon. There were 2 priests, 5 brothers and a Seminarian. They headed up to the Sananga River until they arrived at a place just below Edea and set up their first Mission under Father Walter, and named the place Marienberg (Mary Mount). In 1894, they founded Bonjongo, first in West Cameroon.

Cameroon became an Apostolic Vicariate in 1904 with 54 Pallotine Missions with 35 priests by 1914. The number of school children and baptized Catholics increased progressively.

The German Sacred Heart Fathers decided to come to Cameroon and work in co-operation with the Pallotine Fathers. They opened the first station in Shisong, Kumbo in January 1913.

The entire territory which is now the Diocese of Kumbo was first evangelised by the German Sacred Heart Missionaries of St. Quentin (Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus of Sittard) (in France) founded by Father Jean Leon Dehon in 1878, otherwise known as the Dehonians. On the 9th of November 1912 six Sacred Heart Missionaries – 5 priests and two brothers – led by Father Gerard Thomas Lennartz set out for the present Diocese of Kumbo. Before they set to sail to Africa, Rome had entrusted to them the interior of Cameroon as their field of activity. Fr. Lennartz (Superior), Fr, Augustine, Fr, Robert Mannersdorfer, Fr. Johannes Emonts together with Br. Cripinus Gortz and Br. Felix Lennartz reached Victoria Harbour (Limbe) on 28th November 1912 and then went right ahead to Douala (30th November) to join their Pallotine Brothers and stayed there till 18th December 1912. Fr. Lennartz and Fr. Emonts went to Bamenda to a find a suitable place where they could start their new mission. Bishop Vieter sent Peter Wame and his wife Elizabeth Yaadidy originally from Babungo who were learning doctrine in Douala to assist the two priests but they refused to go unless they are baptized. On 18th December 1912, Wame and wife were baptized and asked to accompany the new missionaries to Bamenda. The priests met Peter Wame, Elizabeth Yaadidy, and some boys including Henry Wanti who had been earlier baptised and sent to school in Sasse. His assistance was great because he was a school teacher. Also, John Nchari from Tabenken was present.

These determined missionaries and local boys began the long trek to Bamenda and arrived on the 26th of December 1912. On 30th December, the missionaries crossed to Nso Country and stayed the night at Sop. At long last, they were nearer the end of their long and tedious journey. On the 31st of December 1912, they entered Kumbo and met the Fon and his subordinates. The Fon asked them to make a choice of where they hope to start a Catholic Mission. On the 1st of January 1913 they started the first mission station in Shisong which they had chosen, the outskirts of Kumbo Town. That very day, they celebrated their first Mass in Shisong. They settled in Shisong and constructed to begin, a Chapel, Fathers House, a School, a Dormitory and a Kitchen while their other confreres who were still in Douala later joined them.

Now the mission in Shisong, Kumbo was established. The German Missionaries sat down to plan their first treks. This was to get to know the area, acquaint the people with the mission and its works and to persuade them to send their children to school. The Missionaries experienced readily acceptance in some parts of the area and resistance in others. Fr. Emortz worked with Henry Wanti in organizing the school in Shisong. It was difficult at the beginning due to language barrier.

By the 28th of April 1914, the area which included the whole of the North West, the West, the Adamaoua, the North and Far North Provinces of Cameroon as well as parts of Chad and Nigeria was erected into the Apostolic Prefecture of Adamawa, with Father Gerard Thomas Lennartz as the Prefect Apostolic. From Kumbo the Sacred Heart Missionaries founded missions in Foumban (now in the Diocese of Bafoussam) and Njinikom (now in the Archdiocese of Bamenda). Fathers Gerard Thomas Lennartz and William Bintner toured the Bamenda Grassland area – Tabenken, Njinikom, Babanki Tungo, Babadji, Wum, Bande, Metta, Nkwen, Oku, Babessi, etc.

A second group of 12 missionaries – 3 priests, 4 brothers and 5 Sisters of the Congregation of Divine Providence of Münster (Westphalia) – arrived in May 1914. and the Sisters of Divine Providence begun a school for girls and a dispensary in Shisong

The missionaries were just gathering momentum when the First World War broke out. In November 1915, following the occupation of Cameroon by French and British forces, the German missionaries were forced to abandon their mission territory. Some of them were interned on the Island of Fernando Po (now known as Malabo, Equatorial Guinea) and later on repatriated. Others were repatriated through Lagos, Nigeria. It is not known that the German missionaries baptized anybody in Shisong but in Fernando Po they instructed and baptized a number of men from Kumbo area serving in the German Army. The sudden departure of the German Sacred Heart Fathers was a tragic incident for the Church and a ‘blessing’ to the pagans since most of the catechumens were forced to abandon their faith.

From the departure of the German Sacred Heart Missionaries in November 1915 to the arrival of the French Sacred Heart Missionaries in July 1920 there was no priest in the territory that is now the Diocese of Kumbo. The flame of faith that had been enkindled was fortunately kept burning by a handful of baptized Catholics. However, there were devout catechumens, like Paul Tangwa and Joseph Ngah, who volunteered as catechists and kept alive the catechumenates established by the German Missionaries.

After the war the territory that now covers the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon became part of the British Cameroons. Missionaries from Nigeria, like the Bishop Joseph Shanahan, occasionally visited the mission posts in this territory but there is no evidence that they went as far as Kumbo. In July 1920 the French Sacred Fathers, led by Mgr. Plissonneau, arrived in Foumban, where they established the headquarters of the Apostolic Prefecture of Adamawa. As soon as the Christians of Shisong heard that there were priests in Foumban they sent a delegation, led by Paul Tangwa, to Mgr. Plissonneau requesting him to visit Shisong. The request was granted and on the 2nd of October 1920 Mgr. Plissonneau triumphantly entered Kumbo and took over the mission post in Shisong. During this visit Mgr. Plissonneau baptized 19 catechumens on the 10th of October 1920 who had been prepared by catechist Paul Tangwa. Exactly two months later, that is, on the 10th of December 1920, the church and the catechist’s house in Kumbo were burnt down as a consequence of a fierce persecution which had been initiated and masterminded by Mr. Duncan, the British Administrator. The persecution lasted three years. Paul Tangwa, the catechist, and a number of Christians were repeatedly tried in pagan courts, flogged and imprisoned. On the 21st of December 1920 Mgr. Plissonneau made his second visit to Kumbo and remained there, making Kumbo his base, till the 14th of May 1923 when he handed over the mission to the Mill Hill Missionaries. In 1922 the Sacred Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples (Propaganda Fide) entrusted the evangelisation of the whole of the then Southern Cameroons (now the South West and the North West Regions of Cameroon) to St. Joseph’s Society for Foreign Missions (the Mill Hill Missionaries). On Friday, the 11th of May 1923, Father Michael Moran, MHM, arrived at Shisong to take over the mission. On the 14th of May 1923 Mgr. Plissonneau officially handed over Shisong Mission to Father Moran and left Kumbo for good. It is worth noting that Mgr. Plissonneau handed over Shisong Mission but not the Apostolic Prefecture to Father Moran. On the 12th of June 1923 Kumbo became part of the newly erected Apostolic Prefecture of Buea and ceased to belong to the Apostolic Prefecture of Adamawa.

Since the arrival of the Mill Hill Missionaries the Catholic Church in Kumbo has grown from strength to strength. The fruit of the labour of the Mill Hill Missionaries was felt in a very special way on the 24th of July 1949 when the first Southern Cameroons priest, Father Aloysius Ba’lon Wankuy, was ordained. This was a landmark in the history of the implantation of the Catholic Church in all of Southern Cameroons.

In October 1935 the Tertiary Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi of the Province of Brixen arrived in Shisong, at the invitation of Mgr. Peter Rogan, the Prefect Apostolic of Buea, to carry out the medical, educational and social apostolates.

On the 15th of March 1939 the Apostolic Prefecture of Buea was raised to an apostolic vicariate and on the 18th of April 1950 to a diocese, with Mgr. Peter Rogan as its first bishop. Then there were two parishes in the territory that now comprises the Diocese of Kumbo – Shisong and Tabenken, which was opened in 1937.

On the 1st of October 1961 British Cameroons became independent and joined French Cameroun, which had earlier become independent on the 1st of January 1960, and the two became the Federal Republic of Cameroon. The Diocese of Buea, hitherto a suffragan see of the Archdiocese of Onitsha in Nigeria, became a suffragan see of the Archdiocese of Yaoundé. In the meantime Bishop Rogan resigned as Bishop of Buea and was succeeded by Bishop Jules Peeters, also himself a Mill Hill Missionary. He was ordained bishop on the 24th of August 1962. Then the territory that is now the Diocese of Kumbo had seven parishes, namely, Shisong, Tabenken, Nkar, Nkambe, Djottin, Tatum and Kumbo. During the episcopate of Bishop Peeters two more parishes – Mbiame and Meluf – were opened in the territory. The rapid growth of the Church during the episcopate of Bishop Peeters led to the creation of the Diocese of Bamenda on the 13th of August 1970, with territory detached from the Diocese of Buea. Father Paul Verdzekov, a diocesan priest from Shisong Parish, was appointed bishop of the new diocese. He was ordained bishop in Bamenda by Bishop Jules Peeters on the 8th of November 1970.

The Diocese of Kumbo (1970 – 1982)

Under the leadership of Bishop Paul Verdzekov, the new Diocese of Bamenda, which included the territory that is now the Diocese of Kumbo, grew progressively. At the end of December 1981 the population of the diocese had grown from 112,391 baptized Catholics at the time of its creation to 177,347. These Catholics were distributed over 26 parishes, with a presbyterium of 68 priests, 33 of whom were diocesan priests. More than half of the diocesan priests originated from the territory that is now the Diocese of Kumbo. Since the presbyterium was fast becoming inadequate for the increasing workload, Bishop Paul Verdzekov enlisted the assistance of Fidei Donum priests from the Diocese of Portsmouth, England, and of the Order of Friars Minor, Capuchins (OFM Cap.), of the Province of Milan in Italy. The Capuchins arrived in the Diocese of Bamenda early in 1982 and were appointed to Shisong Parish where they took over from the Mill Hill Missionaries.

As a result of the rapid growth of the Diocese of Bamenda, on the 18th of March 1982 Pope John Paul II of blessed memory created the Diocese of Kumbo, with territory detached from Bamenda, and raised Bamenda to an archdiocese. At the time of its creation the Diocese of Kumbo had 71,663 baptized Catholics distributed over 9 parishes and served by 27 priests. On the 8th of December 1982 Father Cornelius Fontem Esua, a diocesan priest from Mbetta Parish in the Diocese of Buea at the time, was ordained at St. Augustine’s College, Kumbo, by His Excellency Donato Squicciarini, Apostolic Nuncio to Cameroon, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, as the first Bishop of Kumbo. He was Bishop of Kumbo until the 7th of December 2004 when he was appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of Bamenda and Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Kumbo. Fr. George Nkuo, priest of the Diocese of Buea was appointed Bishop of Kumbo and ordained at St. Augustine’s college ceremonial ground by the Mgr. Antonio Eliseo Arriotti, Apostolic Nuncio to Cameroon and Equatorial Guinnea on the 8th of September 2006.

Historical Summary Statistics

Year Catholics Total Population Percent Catholic Diocesan Priests Religious Priests Total Priests Catholics Per Priest

Male Religious Female Religious Parishes Source
1990 87,371 417,000 21.0% 14 12 26 3,360

28 77 14 ap1991
1999 126,271 653,244 19.3% 27 12 39 3,237

15 103 16 ap2000
2000 130,577 665,255 19.6% 27 14 41 3,184

21 82 16 ap2001
2001 134,404 672,774 20.0% 29 15 44 3,054

21 76 16 ap2002
2002 138,324 672,774 20.6% 42 13 55 2,514

45 106 16 ap2003
2003 141,682 673,182 21.0% 45 15 60 2,361

46 116 17 ap2004
2004 141,970 700,000 20.3% 45 11 56 2,535

24 110 17 ap2005
2005
2006
2007 88,829 770,755

66 15 81

19 99 25 Ap2008
2008 92,377 771,664

67 16 83

20 116 25 Ap2009
2009 151,971 771,664

70 19 89

26 147 25 Ap2010



Mgr. George NKUO, Bishop of Kumbo

George Nkuo was born on the 28th of January 1953 in Njinikom, Boyo Division in the Archdiocese of Bamenda-North West Region of Cameroon. He did his Secondary and high school education in Bishop Rogan Minor Seminary, Small Soppo, Buea, from 1967-1974 where he obtained the General Certificate of Education, ordinary and Advanced Levels. He was then admitted to the Regional Major Seminary, Bambui, where he studied for the priesthood from 1974-1981. He completed his priestly formation in philosophy and theology studies with a Bachelor Degree in Philosophy in 1977 and a Bachelor Degree in Theology in 1981 respectively.

He was ordained priest for the Diocese of Buea on the 26th of April 1981 at Small Soppo, Buea by the Right Reverend Pius Suh Awa, Bishop of Buea. He is of the second batch of priests trained in the present St. Thomas Aquinas’ Major Seminary, Bambui.

He did postgraduate studies in St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, National University of Ireland (1989-1991) where he specialised in Education and obtained a Master’s Degree in the Science of Education.

Bishop George is known for his time spent as the Curate and Manager of Catholic Schools in the St. Joseph’s Parish, Mamfe and Kumba Town. He was Chancellor for the Diocese of Buea and Principal of St. Francis’ College, Fiango, Kumba. Before coming to the Diocese of Kumbo he was Catholic Education Secretary for the Diocese of Buea From 1994 to 2006. Previous assignments include Provincial Chairman of the Association of Diocesan Priests, Bamenda Ecclesiastical Province; National/Diocesan Chaplain of the Catholic Women’s Association. Bishop George was also Member of the Council of Cameroon General Certificate of Education Examination Supervisory Board, member of Presbyteral Council and College of Consultors of the Diocese of Buea. He was ordained a bishop and installed as the second Bishop of the Diocese of Kumbo on September 8, 2006.

After his appointed as Bishop, he became Chairman of the Episcopal Commission for Education in the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon (CNEC) and in 2009; he became member of the Study Week of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences in Rome as well as member of the Permanent Committee of the Cameroon Episcopal Conference.

From the beginning of his episcopacy, Bishop George Nkuo expressed the hope that a Bishop’s responsibilities are first to the Diocese where he is ordained to oversee. This he makes visible in the way he is available to the Priests, Religious, Seminarians and Faithful in the Diocese of Kumbo. In his first meeting with his priests upon his appointment as Bishop of Kumbo, he insisted that the priests, his co-workers were to be seen as his main collaborators and emphasized on team work/collaborative ministry. Today, he recognizes the talents and abilities of the priests, religious, and laity and is ever more willing to work with them at all levels for the evangelization of the Church in Kumbo.

Bishop George is working very hard to build Catholic education, in the Catholic schools in the Diocese as well as in the religious education programs of the parishes. He has introduced the Catholic Education Week and the Bishop’s Education Fund which contributes in forming young people to become integral and holistic scholars. He is planning for the future construction of the Medical Department of the newly created Catholic University of Cameroon, Bamenda, and also carrying out improvements in the existing Schools in the Diocese.

On December 30, 2010, he lunched the Preparatory phase of the Centenary of the Diocese of Kumbo. His Pastoral Letter of November 11, 2010 to all the Faithful in the Diocese of Kumbo on the Preparation and Celebration of the Centenary of the Arrival of the Catholic Faith in the Diocese of Kumbo was highly welcomed. It would soon be 100 years since the German Sacred Heart Fathers of St. Quentin arrived Kumbo. The Diocese of Kumbo has come of age. The celebration of this great jubilee began with the preparatory phase on December 30 with the theme “We no longer believe because of what you told us” (John 4:42). This preparatory phase will last one year and the celebrative phase another one year. These periods of two years for the preparation for the celebration and the celebration proper are meant that the Christians, Religious, Priests reflect together so as to grow to maturity together. It is a time to reflect too ‘on what we have been, what we are now, and what we are to be in the years to come’, hoping that God will do even more among his people in the future than he has done in the past. It is a time of renewal.

What is even more important for him, is pastoral plans, to be able to reach out to the people of God not only to preach the Gospel but also to be close to them in their needs is effectively being carried out. He has been trying to meet the Christians in their Parishes every year during pastoral visits and to set up little projects in the area of health and education to reassure the people of Kumbo and especially those in the remotest parts that they are not totally abandoned. Mgr. George Nkuo is 58years old. He has been priest for 30years and Bishop for 5years.





CENTENARY PRAYER
Almighty God and Father,symbol Your Word of Life reached our land a hundred years ago. We thank you for the missionaries you sent to us; for the first Christians who accepted the Good News and for your grace which helped them to live the challenges of the Gospel.

Loving God, In this centenary of the faith in our diocese We come before you as your children; to thank you that you have given us the grace to believe in your Son Jesus Christ and to become your sons and daughters.

We thank you for the growth of our Church,for calling many young men and women from among usto serve you as priests and religious in the Dioceseand as missionaries elsewhere. Father, we thank you for all the lay people in our diocese, who continue to witness to their faith with joy and vigour.

Lord, we ask you to continue to shower your blessings on us. Increase our faith and help us to persevere in it. By the power of your Holy Spirit fan into a flame the gifts which your Spirit pours into our hearts.May we have the same zeal, determination and couragethat directed our first missionaries and Christiansin their difficult task of spreading the Good News of Your Son.

Lord, give us good Christian families. May our young people come to know and love you with all their hearts. May your Word grow deeply in us and transform our minds and hearts to live according to your will.

We pray today for the dawn of a new evangelisation in our Diocese. Lord, guide the work of your Church. Deepen our faith and our love for the Church. May our hearts yearn for justice, peace and truth.

May our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Patroness of our Diocese, intercede for us. Grant this through Christ our Lord, Amen.

April 2011 Ordination Mass Episcopal Ordination
of Mgr. George NKUO
Bishop on Pastoral Visit OFFICE OF THE BISHOP DIOCESAN SECRETARIAT