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How the Missionary Cooperative Plan makes a difference

Local priest shares his story of home

In 2016, Pope Francis created the Diocese of Kumba, bringing into existence the 26th diocese in Cameroon, Africa. Bishop Agapitus Nfon, former auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Bamenda, was appointed as the pioneer bishop. The territory for the new diocese was carved out of the former Diocese of Buea. The fledgling diocese was consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The diocese comprises 21 parishes and is blessed with a strong, young clergy of about 53 diocesan priests. A few missionary priests and about five different religious congregations also currently serve in the diocese.

Positioned right at the equator, the region enjoys just two seasons: the rainy and the dry.

With a vast two-thirds of the diocese being rural, only one-third of the central city of Kumba is easily accessible.

A majority of the population are farmers and traders. Though some serve with the government, most are engaged in personal business, some large and some very small. Farming is paramount to the survival of many, both for food and for cash crops.

Though the number of priests may seem large, several parishes are in distant suburbs, barely accessible. When the rainy season arrives, the unpaved rural roads make getting to suburbs almost impossible.

When serving at home, I was pastor of a parish and principal of a school. If both roads had been paved, it could have taken me around 40 minutes to be in the city to buy basic school items for three students, but due to the bad nature of the roads, it would be a rare pleasure for me to be back to school from the city in five hours or more. Even arriving the next day was not unusual.

Wonderfully, the Christian population is growing with a lot of enthusiasm for the faith. There is a love for the Church and what the Church provides for them, especially health care through Catholic hospitals and health centers.

Overall, the diocese runs one hospital and one health center, which serves those with minor cases. Additionally, care for the welfare of the Lord’s people is carried out through the committed operation of Caritas. Education of those in the Church’s care is provided through Catholic schools. About 40 elementary schools and five middle and high schools fall under the care of the diocese.

While the number of schools is beautiful, it is a tough reality. On this topic, I speak with a lot of passion and experience, having been principal for twelve years and secretary of education for diocesan schools in Kumba for two years.

Regarding the beauty of education sponsored by the diocese, many parents desire Catholic education for their children. Luckily, the Catholic Church is the best provider of education in the country, which is an established fact from discipline to hard work and evidenced in the results.

To provide this opportunity, almost every parish runs one or two elementary schools, but the challenge is sustainability. Most parents never really completely pay their tuition. This hurdle leads to another challenge: the payment of teachers salaries, bills, and basic facility upkeep.

Sadly, the same year the diocese was created, a sociopolitical crisis hit the region, causing a great deal of handicap, displacement of persons, fear, and deaths.

While some have been blessed with power generators, and a few with solar panels, many rural parishes are without water and light. Even for those in the city, power is a luxury. It is not uncommon to go without power for days to weeks.

With the committed assistance of friends of the diocese, which includes the Diocese of Birmingham, the Diocese of Kumba has been able to meet the needs of those affected by the crisis, especially with the restructuring of the dilapidated infrastructure, the provision of generators for power, the availability of mowers to cut grass, and even the creation of boreholes for drinking water.

Even with all the hardships, the kindness of the people of the Diocese of Birmingham and the funds raised during the Missionary Cooperative Plan appeal have been a blessing. The Missionary Cooperative Plan is a shining light in the lives of many. For even if one child receives an education, it allows for a better life.

On behalf of my bishop, my brother priests, and the whole people of the Kumba diocese, especially the children, I express sincere gratitude and say, “Thank you!” Remain assured of our love and prayers.


Missionary Cooperation Plan Appeal | June 24-25, 2023

One of the diocesan efforts to promote mission awareness and spiritual union with mission efforts is the diocesan Missionary Cooperation Plan (MCP). Because of the many needs of new churches in underdeveloped countries — needs that are as urgent today as in any other period in history — each diocese in the United States selects missionary dioceses, religious congregations, or lay missionary organizations to support.

Locally, the support of missionary groups is coordinated by Father Raymond J. Remke, diocesan director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, with the endorsement of Bishop Raica.

Through the generous self-giving of many faithful throughout the diocese, these missionary dioceses and other evangelizing groups receive help to support their ongoing work in sharing the Gospel through various projects. For example, past funds that have been raised in the diocese have gone to help in a variety of ways from the construction of school structures, bathroom facilities, and water wells to the payment of teacher salaries and tuition for seminarians. Due to the desperate situation that some of these dioceses face, every dollar given is extremely important.

No amount is too small to make an enormous difference in the lives of others. All funds collected through the appeal are sent directly to the chosen missionary groups.

 This year’s appeal, which will take place the weekend of June 24-25, will support the projects of the Diocese of Aguascalientes in Mexico, the Diocese of Irinjalakuda in India, the Diocese of Kumba in Cameroon, the Diocese of Maiduguri in Nigeria, the Diocese of Matagalpa in Nicaragua, and the     Diocese of Warangal in India.

Father Frankline Fomukong is a priest of the Diocese of Kumba currently serving the Diocese of Birmingham as administrator of St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Jacksonville and St. Joachim in Piedmont.