The Popular Missions in the Congregation of the Mission are part of a quasi-traditional heritage that goes back to the origins of its history. It is to honor this traditional Vincentian heritage that the commission in charge of the Popular Missions in the Vice-Province of Cameroon organized related activities from April 18 to 24, 2022 in the diocese of Douala, in the territory of the parish of Our Lady of the Rosary. The general theme was taken from the Gospel of Matthew: “He took away our infirmities and bore our diseases.” (Mt 8:17). The popular Missions were launched by a solemn Mass presided over by the Visitor of the Vice-Province of Cameroon, Father Guénolé FEUGANG, during which he recalled the meaning and objectives of these Missions while encouraging the participation of all souls of good will.
1- The geographical situation of the Parish and the population
Our Lady of the Rosary Parish is located in the Diocese of Douala in an outlying district called Mambanda. It is a parish entrusted to the Congregation of the Mission by the diocesan bishop about ten years ago. The neighborhood is marked by a great precariousness and a growing promiscuity. Our presence allowed us to notice that it is a high-density neighborhood in which insecurity proliferates. The parish is very lively with a large number of young people who bring an impressive dynamism.
2- The Missionaries
Under the coordination of Father Merlin TABELA, cm, the Popular Missions have known a diversified and varied participation. We recorded a very marked participation of the Lazarist Fathers and seminarians, the Daughters of Charity, the Sisters of Charity of St. Jeanne Antide Thouret, the Imeldine Sisters of Blessed Imelda, the Vincentian groups and the volunteer parishioners. These different people formed the coordination cell of the Popular Missions with the responsibility of preparing each activity and making the missionary walks in the neighborhood. We noted a wonderful collaboration between all these participants in the spirit of synodality who gave their hearts to the success of the Mission. Despite the fatigue and the high demands of the program, they were able to draw on their reserves to overcome the difficulties. It should be noted that among these missionaries, some came from cities and neighborhoods far away from the Mission Parish. These missionaries were hosted by families of the Parish during the whole mission.
The most outstanding activities were the missionary walks in small groups in the neighborhood, the conferences around the general theme, the Eucharistic celebrations, the practical workshops of making rosaries, bracelets and soap, the listening, confessions and accompaniment, the prayer vigil, the medical examinations. There was great fervor and massive participation during these activities. The results were very satisfactory. The missionary walks were not only aimed at Catholic Christians, but also at those who were willing to open their homes. During the different visits, the idea was to talk about the Popular Missions and the activities organized within the parish by inviting the people we met to participate. The conferences were great moments of sharing, and one could feel the thirst of the people present and they showed their interest by abundant questions.
We can affirm that the Vincentian Popular Missions continue to be a great opportunity for the Church and for the evangelization of the masses. They have a great impact on human formation, and on the awakening and strengthening of the Christian faith.