September 4, 2009
Cameroon: newly baptized Christians in our mission in Atok
The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in our mission in Atok had a two-dimensional character: christological and Marian. We prepared for baptism more than 100 catechumen. They are school children that took religious education for the past three years. Many students come from poor and spiritually neglected families and they attend elementary school as non-Christians. Kids whom the catechists were able to get to take religious education are ready for baptism. We also had kids for First Holy Communion; they were baptized at the age of two or three, but were spiritually neglected later. After taking school catechism classes, we prepare them for First Holy Communion and then for Confirmation. This group had several dozen kids.
Religious education provided in villages by local catechists is often insufficient. Together with our seminarians, Yves, Dominique, and Alexandre, we visited our villages and gave tests to kids. The majority passed, but there still is a need for further instructions. Thus, we invite all kids to our mission for three full days of retreat in preparation for the sacraments. We keep the tradition of admitting kids to sacraments on the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. The Sacrament of Baptism introduces them into a new life as God’s children and frees them from the original sin, while First Holy Communion prepares them for the life lived in union with God. Kids can now continue schooling with a new cognizance and dignity because they’ve been baptized and can receive various sacraments. This cognizance gives them peace and safety, and it opens them to God’s actions.
This year we added a Marian aspect to this solemnity. Namely, together with the newly baptized we made a procession carrying the statue of Our Lady of Fatima. We were also reciting the Rosary and singing Marian songs. We make a Fatima procession every month from May to October. Mainly members of the Legion of Mary and a few faithful attend them. This time we had larger crowds, but most notable among the crowds were our newly baptized, who wore white garments and carried rosaries. The rosaries were a gift from the Claverian Sisters from Rome, who visited our mission this year along with the youth in their care.
After the celebrations there was lunch of rice and dried fish in the peanut sauce for the newly baptized and the First-Communion kids. Many kids posed for photographs with flowers or papyrus in the back in commemoration of this day.
Fr. Franciszek Filipiec, MIC
Mission in Atok, Cameroon