I know the area around Maroua very well. Between 1996 and 2008, I was in Cameroon on assignment as a carpenter on behalf of the Pallotti (an apostolic community). The country was my home for many years, and the people there became my family.
On the way from Maroua-Salak airport to the hotel the evening before the ordination, we make a stop: the Christians in this extreme northern region are getting a new cathedral. We stop at the building site. The Archbishop Emeritus Christian Wiyghan, Cardenal Tumi from Douala and the other bishops hear from the building manager, and then express their appreciation for the construction of the cathedral, a project that had been initiated by Philippe Stevens, Bishop Emeritus of Maroua. Afterwards we continue to the hotel where, with a temperature of around 41 degrees Celsius, we have drinks and a small snack. Unfortunately, during the night I have to do without air conditioning, as the same switch that turns off the light turns off the AC as well. Bad luck!
On the day of the ordination, around 5000 people celebrate with the Pallotti priest, Father Bruno Ateba, who is to take over from Bishop Stevens. The five-hour ceremony is surrounded by security. The military patrol everywhere. There is still no news of the three missing people of the order, who have been in the hands of the terrorists for some time. The tension created by the security forces is palpable.”