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St Joseph's Cathedral Parish, MANKON


The Sacred Heart Fathers spent a night in Mankon on 26 December 1912 on their way to Nso' country. After setting up  a Mission Station in Shisong, Fr John Emonts  first visited Bamenda in 1913. And this is where the story of Christianity in the Cathedral Parish of Mankon probably begins. Apart from Fr Emonts, it is also recorded that Bishop Joseph Shanahan visited Mankon in 1919. Otherwise, it was
Papa Martin Atang who asked in 1922 for permission  to start a Catholic Church in the Mankon Area. When Papa Atang met Fon Ndefru of Mankon, he consulted with his council, and wanting to rid their land of an area that they believed was the habit of the devil, they gave Martin Atang the Ntaah Satan (Satan's Hill), the present site of the Cathedral. The hopes were that Martin Atang and his Whitemen of God would know how to handle Satan. They were happy that Atang made progress with people on this hill and the people could sleep without any fear of being haunted. When the Mill Hill Missionaries came to take over from the Sacred Heart Fathers in Shisong, Fr Moran visited Mankon and gave Atang the encouragement to build his little Church. Even the muslim community in the present Old Town assisted the small Catholic Community to build the Church in Abakwa. The Missionaries visited Martin Atang and his Christians three to four times a year, otherwise the group trekked up to Shisong every First Friday to participate at Holy Mass in Shisong. For the rest Martin Atang taught the people doctrine and helped to keep the community alive and together.

The community grew and by 1935, the Station was ripe to be opened a Parish on 3 Aug 1935 with Fr Francis Woodman as its first Parish Priest. On 2 November, Feast of All Souls, Fr Woodman got an assistant in the person Fr John McDermott. Fr McDermott travelled from the coast with Fr Burke Kennedy for two weeks via Kumba and Mamfe out into Bamenda. The Parish of Mankon at that time included on the southern wing Mankon, Ntambeng .......  

On 2 February 1937 Fr McDermott built the first English school and began with 100 pupils. He was assisted by Mr Peter Ako transferred from the Vernacular school in Ntambeng.  Between 1940 and 1967, a period of 26 years, Fr Nabben was Parish priest of Mankon and he began to build the church which would serve the Mankon people until the present Cathedral was built. During the demolishing of the old Fathers House to build the present, Mr Michael Chibaki was crushed by falling rubble. From Mankon other parishes like Babanki Tungo, Bambui and Ntambeng were created. In 1958, Fr Henry  Diobe Mesue became the first Cameroonian priest to work in Mankon and later took over in 1967 from Fr Nabben.  Under Fr Mesue the first Parish Council of Mankon was formed and met on 13 October 1967 electing Mr Frederick Mubang as the first President. It was in 1968 that the Council started the Catholic Youth Club.  Then the big news came in 1970 when Bamenda was made a Diocese.

An imposing Cathedral was built to suit the status of Mankon which became the Seat of the New Diocese.  Today Mankon has 2 Mission Stations- the Cathedral and Christ the King Mission Station. There are 2 Catholic Primary Schools, one French and the other English. There is one Catholic College - Our Lady of Lourdes which just celebrated Golden Jubilee in January 2013; then there is the Catholic University of Cameroon, (CATUC), Bamenda. There is a convent of the Missionary Sisters of the Holy Rosary in Lourdes, a convent of the Tertiary Sisters of St Francis in Mankon, another convent of the Sisters of St Therese of the Child Jesus of Buea in Mankon.  The present Canon of the Cathedral is Fr Georgre Tomrila Ngalim assisted by Fr Leonard Akumbene. Fr Tatah Mbuy is the Director of Communications and lives in Mankon just like Fr. Chrysanthus Tim Chaplain to Our Lady of Lourdes College and Fr Augustine Nkwain Catholic Educationa Secretary.

There are two other priests staying in the Catehchist Complex and teaching in the Catholic University of Cameroon, CATUC Bamenda. They are Mgr Patrick Nyuydine Lafon, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Fr Joseph Jum Awoh, Registrar.

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