Sister Denise Toublant dj, on mission in Cameroon, reports on the highlights of Lent. During the Lenten season, the Daughters of Jesus postulants of the community of Bini Dang participated in two pilgrimages, one diocesan and the other with the parish. They share their experiences with us.
Walking with the diocese
Every year, the diocese of Ngaoundéré organises a pilgrimage to the Marian shrine of “Our Lady of the Apostles” in Marza, located on a hill on the outskirts of the city. This year it took place from Friday the 17th to Sunday the 19th of March, three intense days.
The theme was that of the Lenten letter of Bishop Emmanuel Abbo of Ngaoundéré, focusing on violence.
« Everyone should turn away from his evil behaviour and acts of violence.»
« Let him do good, let him turn from evil and do good, let him seek peace and pursue it.»
(1st Letter of St Peter 3,11)
On the way to Marza
After the blessing of all the pilgrims at the cathedral by the pastor of the diocese, we set off for the pilgrim walk, a prayerful walk of two and a half hours led by the different parishes, based on texts from the biblical exodus and the synodal journey. We also remembered Bishop Yves Plumey and his collaborators, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI), who arrived from France in 1946 to evangelise North Cameroon. They contributed to building the Church in this territory of Adamaoua.
On the arrival of the pilgrims in Marza, the bishop blessed the Marian grotto and we participated in the opening mass of the pilgrimage. In his homily, the Vicar General emphasised the dimension of love in our lives
En route with Mary and Jesus
At Marza, there is a “Way of Mary”, with paintings on the stones. Walking this path allowed us to get to know Mary’s life through the Gospels and her place today in the universal Church. With her, we gave thanks to God for all his blessings in our daily lives. We asked her to continue to intercede for us with her Son whom we wish to follow.
We are familiar with the Way of the Cross. Here in Marza, we discovered a different way! It is called “The Way of Easter: A Way of Life and Hope in 15 Stations“. It allowed us to meditate on the many appearances of the risen Jesus to the women and disciples, and on the mission he entrusts to them with the sending of the Holy Spirit, to bear witness in the world to what they have seen and heard.
Listening to the speakers
The theme of the pilgrimage was developed through four presentations. “The source of violence in the Bible: Cain and Abel” was the subject of the first intervention presented by a priest. A mother shared how to eliminate violence and seek peace in families. A nun spoke about the causes and consequences of violence in schools. Finally, a religious entitled his intervention as follows: “In search of inner peace” (Ps 33)
On Sunday, an impressive crowd converged on the top of the hill to take part in the solemn and festive closing Mass presided over by the bishop, accompanied by all the priests. It was the unique Mass in the diocese that day. We thanked the Lord who supports his church on its journey.
Like the other pilgrims, we were accommodated on site, sleeping on mats in a classroom. We enjoyed living these three days with the diocesan Church.
Walking with the parish: a time of communion
Béka, 11 km from Bini Dang, is a village that is part of the St Thomas More parish in Bini. Every year, Christians from the different Christian communities of the parish go there on pilgrimage. On the 26th of March 2023, at 6am, after receiving the blessing of the bishop who is participating in the walk, the pilgrims set off in groups.
There were two stops, organized as follows: an animation, listening to the word of God (the call of Abraham and Jesus in the temple of Jerusalem with his parents), and a sharing from these texts with prayer.
Once we reached the foot of the mountain, it was good to take a break before the climb. We made the ascent with the parish theatre group, who acted out the passion of Jesus on a steep, stony path. Seeing Jesus on the cross, surrounded by the two thieves, at the very top of the hill, brought tears to the eyes of some as they thought of the suffering Jesus went through for the salvation of the world.
The pilgrimage ended with the celebration of the Eucharist. In his homily, the Bishop recalled the three pillars of Lent: prayer, forgiveness, and charity, inviting us to continue the journey towards Easter.
The pilgrims returned on foot, in the joy of having lived this day together.
Some expressions following these events
«In her intervention on violence in the family, the mother spoke of parents who let their children watch TV until 11 pm without caring about their education. These children then imitate what they see. Other parents reproach their elders in front of the younger ones and as a result, the latter no longer respect their elders ». Joséphine
«I liked the walk with the Cross and the Virgin in the lead, carried in turn by the different parishes, a walk in an atmosphere of prayer, with the rosary, songs, prayers…
Sleeping on a mat like everyone else, in a classroom, with a mother welcoming us when we fetched water for the toilet: I enjoyed it, it reminded me of the village.» Caroline
«Peace is a treasure within you. You have to look for it in yourself, in your family, in your community. It is given by God. Being aware that you are angry and getting rid of it is a way to keep inner peace. Peace in the family comes through patience and forgiveness. In the community, it is internalized in small services, by paying attention to your sister or your brother. »Elisabeth
« Jesus said: “Love your neighbour”. If you don’t love him, it’s easy to destroy him. For me, this is a reality” Célestine
« Abraham obeyed God. He left his country and his relatives to go elsewhere. He went to live among people he did not know. Despite the difficulties, he accomplished his mission.» Julienne
« I liked the way we made the pilgrimage: walking with others while praying. It was new for me. The mountain reminded me of Jesus on the Cross, of his suffering to save us.» Merveille
The postulants, Daughters of Jesus, Caroline, Delphine,
Elisabeth, Joséphine, Célestine, Merveille, Julienne