Sorry, this entry is only available in European Spanish.
A SAINTLY PRIEST FOR AFRICA AND THE WORLD
BABA SIMON THE BAREFOOTED MISSIONARY
We want through this paper, to present to you Father Simon Mpeke, a Cameroonian priest whose Beatification process is currently being looked into in Rome, after having being validly accepted by the Diocese.
MPEKE was born around the year 1906, in Batombé (Edéa) in Cameroon, of non-Christian agricultural parents.
In 1914, while schooling in the school taken care of by the German Pallutine Fathers, he asked to be baptised. His wish came to be realised and he was baptised on 14th August 1918, after the First World War, by the French, Holy Ghost Missionaries in Edéa, with Simon as his Christian name.
He took as job Head Teacher, in the primary schools found in the remote areas in Edéa and later in the main mission in Edéa.
It is here, that in 1921, he will get to know that “a Black could become a priest.” He did not hesitate one bit.
He therefore, turned down his wedding arrangements with a young girl, to whom he was betrothed and began studying Latin with a small group of friends. In August 1924, he gained admission into the Seminary at Yaoundé, which opened its doors in July 1923.
There, he left a rich memory of himself as an excellent, serious, very pious and peaceful Seminarian.
Moreover, he is part of the first batch of 8 priests to be ordained in Cameroon on the 08th of December 1935.
Right from the Seminary, he was accustomed to the practise of Contemplation, and had begun a small project with others, of an active and contemplative congregation.
In the year 1936, he was nominated vicar of a remote mission, where he was remembered as a priest full of zeal, very supernatural, one who did incredible things and who gave of his time without reserve.
Again, being highly influenced by the Theology of his era, he decided to stand out rightly against the Religious Traditional practises of this area.
He was recognized as a priest of great value and this made him to be appointed in 1947 to the large parish of New-Bell in Douala, where he became the Parish priest by the end of the year.
He gave all he had as skills in the parish, by developing various congregations and brotherhoods, in supporting also, the different Catholic Action groups and schools and he was very much available and his generosity for his flock knew no bounds.
Again, during the early years of 1950, the institution of the fraternities of the Brothers and Sisters of Jesus, in his parish, made him discover the Spirituality of Charles de Foucauld.
In 1953, he joined the secular institute of the Brothers of Jesus and asked for a Sabbatical year in order to do his “novitiate” in Algeria.
He will later become one of the founders at the international level of the Union Sacerdotale Jesus-Caritas and its first head in Cameroon and in Africa.
Also, given his love and influence among God’s people, he was even nominated alongside two others for the post of the Auxiliary Bishop to his Bishop.
Towards the year 1954, he had the feeling of a call to evangelise the peoples of North Cameroon who were considered “pagans.” After due prayer and reflection, and filled with the dynamic missionary spirit of the Encyclical “Fidei Donum,” he became, in 1959, the first Cameroonian secular missionary priest in his own country.
After a brief stay in the community of the Brothers of Jesus, he took residence in Tokombéré, where we have the present Diocese of Maroua-Mokolo.
Living alone and in complete destitution, the “barefooted missionary” spent his life fighting misery which, according to a wise Muslim, he saw in it an “enemy of God.”
His intense prayer life and his contagious joy served as luminous testimony of God’s love even in the remotest villages in his large parish.
Through his creation of schools, sanitary structures, undertakings against injustice, setups to cater for the youth and the call for universal brotherhood, he allowed for a real promotion of the population until it became contemptible. His worry of permanent dialogue with the leaders of Religious Traditions and his encounter with the Muslims made him the prophetic precursor of Inter-religious dialogue, which was further reemphasized by Vatican II and gained for him the nickname “Baba Simon” (Father Simon), which is still very much used, even 40 years after his death, by both Christians and non-Christians.
It is on the 13th of August 1975 that he passed away, exhausted, with a life completely dedicated to the service of God and men.
We recommend that you pray therefore, for this cause of Beatification as well as, for our dear Region of the Far-North of Cameroon, still exposed to threats from the terrorist group of Boko-Haram. Through the intercession of Baba Simon, may Christians know how to be at peace and to continue in his footsteps to testify to “the Good News of the Divine Filiation of every human being” (Benedict XVI, Africae Munus, n° 8)
PDF: Baba Simon, EN
Brothers and sisters in the Fraternity of Blessed Charles of Jesus
This is letter of introduction about medals and pins of Br. Charles for the upcoming Centennial year starting December 1st, 2015.
I have taken the initiative to produce some medals, lapel pins, and Jesus Caritas crosses. All these items were made in China, in very large quantities to keep the price low, so that anyone, any where in the world, can afford to have one. Eventually I hope to recoup the funds as you and I distribute these beautiful items at a low price.
This a sneak preview for you. Could you please send me the emails of as many national responsible’s as possible, so they can see these items and may take some responsibility for marketing them within their own countries. When I have all the emails possible together then I will send an email to all the international addresses presenting the items and the details for the way to pay including poatage. Then only one package needs to be sent to each region/country ..
You understand the need to send these items in bulk so as to be cost effective. The items are so inexpensive it would be counterproductive to send individual orders for so little money. The postage for sending 1 or 2 make it cost prohibitive. I need to send packages in bulk only.
Fr Lenny Tighe, Boston Ma USA
USA: firstname.lastname@example.org – 617 323 5994
Jesus Caritas Cross pendant: exactly same as lapel pin
To be worn from neck chain: $1.00 USD
1 ¼” x 1 ½” or 31mm x 38mm
lot of 25 only Outside USA
Plaque d’or: $4.00 USD
The photo of Br Charles will be larger and more detail than shown.
Jesus Caritas is engraved on the reverse.
Can be worn either way
1 ½“ x 1” or 25mm x 12.7mm
Sold in a lot of 15 outside the US
What a joy it was for me to find myself in the Monastery of Jésus Sauveur de Honda in Burkina Faso with Jean Michel! He was there for a month helping the monks in their theological formation. We, the Spanish workers in the WEND BE NE DO project, María, Carlos and I, of our Tienda Asilo de San Pedro Foundation, stopped off before reaching the project at Bam to greet the brothers in the monastery. We shared their table and prayer. We invited Jean Michel and the community to take part on Sunday, 1st February, in the celebration for the children of the project, with the blessing of the new Multipurpose Centre. It was a surprise that filled us with joy to meet this brother of ours in deepest Africa.
The Monastery of Jésus Sauveur, founded by Fr. ‘Little Brother’ Emmanuel KALMOGO, now deceased, follows the spirituality of St. Bernard and of Charles de FOUCAULD, and is open to casual visitors, with places for silence and prayer. The simple and humble lifestyle incarnate in the reality of Burkina Faso of these few men following Jesus is its most welcoming feature. Jean Michel helped them in their formation and shared in the daily work, as the monastery is self-sufficient for its upkeep and farms the fields that surround the simple houses that make up the monastic settlement.
We began on February 1st with a reception for the almost two hundred children, adolescents and youths the project attends to, some for the past ten years, when we started, in a spirit of brotherhood, with the motto “BE WITH”, establishing Nazareth, from day to day with those affected by HIV in conditions of extreme poverty. Our surprise was to see the Project’s vehicle arrive with a monk and Jean Michel, as the volunteer driver had set off early for Honda to pick them up, on the initiative of Suzanne, the Coordinator of WEND BE NE DO in Burkina.
It was a great joy to share in the celebration of the Eucharist with Jacques, a priest who works in the laboratory of the diocesan medical centre of Bam, with Jean Michel and the adults and children of the project, with songs, dance and an air of festivity and, at the same time, one of respect. Muslims and Christians rejoicing in the one God.
At the end of the Sunday Eucharist, we got ready to bless the new Multi-purpose Centre of the Project, built by the Foundation, which makes it possible for activities to take place with improved spaces and facilities for more than six hundred people of all ages, affected by the stigma of HIV, malnutrition, social abandonment, and lack of education, in the case of the children, many of whom are orphans or children at risk. Jean Michel and I, with two good helpers, beneficiaries of WEND BE NE DO, blessed the water together and shared the blessing of the rooms, Jean Michel taking the west wing and I the east. It reminded me of the Easter Vigil in my parish, where we all finish up soaked with the water of life, with joy and hope. It was an Easter celebration in Ordinary Time!
Afterwards we both gave the final blessing in one of the rooms of the Multipurpose centre together with Jacques, and this gave way to the party, where we all behaved like children and took part in the games, dances, the peace-tree activity, prepared by the older ones who as the first children ten years earlier began a crucial stage of their lives in WEND BE NE DO, and today, for the most part, have recovered their health and dignity, have overcome malnutrition, and have the chance to continue studies – one of them will begin studying social and psychological care support in university next term.
We shared a festive lunch and in the afternoon we left surrounded by voices, and by tamtam improvised from large cans, saying goodbye also to youngsters who had come from their villages, up to 30km distant from the Project; some remained in the Centre, to spend the night and return home the next day.
For me meeting with Jean Michel in one of my favourite places in the world has been an experience of brotherhood and a great gift. I felt the support of a brother from the Fraternity who shares the dream and the struggle for those who need better opportunities to improve their lives. Thanks, Jean Michel, for “being with” us, for sharing Jesus and enjoying friendship with the very least. Your experience of Africa in earlier years has been your best credential and passport; neither of us is a stranger in Burkina Faso. I remember that when we prayed the Prayer of Abandonment in Honda, with the monks and my Spanish friends, at the conclusion of the hour of Nones, I felt the universality of the message of Brother Charles and the absence of borders in the fraternity.
Aurelio SANZ BAEZA
Perín, Cartagena, Murcia, Spain, 11 February 2015