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A Protestnnt Monostic Order Within The

Presbyrcrtan Church in Cameroon (PC.C)


AcFrLow tndgements

All rights reserved. No portion of this booklet may be reproduced in any form , without the

prior authorisation of the authors and its publishers

Copyrighta-2007

11


CONTENTS

Acknowledgements.

Introduction.

I. Historical Overview. .....,

II. Geography... .......

ru. Who was Rev. Sr. Ma deleine Marie Handv.

Life In France...

ry. Community LifeAt Sisterhood of Emmanuel Bafut...

a)

(1)

(2)

(3)

b)

c)

d)

e)

(1)

(2)

(3)

(4)

(s)

(6)

(7)

(8)

V.

VI.

8

Monastic Expectations

..... g

The Sense of Belonging.

g

The Sense o,f Responsibility.... ...'.... g

The Sense o f Direction.

g

Charism

g

Daily Organisation. ........ 9

Becoming A Consecrated Sister o f Emmanuel.

SisterhoodofEmmanuel BafutAs Seen From lg75 to[007 .....

" " I 0

""'I I

EconomicActivities. ...........; ........ 12

Cattle Ranch.......i.

.;..... . j,z

Sewing Department..

13

Bakery Department..

13

Guests' House Department.

Magda Shop ." 14

Wafers Department..

14

Farm Work Department..

Others. ..... 15

External Relationships

Who Can Join The Sisters dEmmanuel Bafut..

....!.

". rc

. l g

HowTo Join Us........ i 8

ll

I

I

3

4

5

7

1


al-o

.

speak of a Protestant rnonastic order sounds strange and even

I irrelevant. When the Christian Church in Western Europe split,

because ofthe Reformation, Luther, Calvin and the other Reformers

refused to maintain this type of commitment in their new

denominations.

But from the middle of the 19'h Century onward, a Spiritual Revival

took place within the protestant churches which enabled religious

and monastic orders to emerge again in their spheres. As a matter

of fact, it took more than 1 00 years before this way of evangelical

Iife could be accepted amongst protestants. ,

Founding a religious order in Cameroon in the 1970s was a rcal

challenge. Mother Mai ;dsleine Mary Handy had already introduced

and presented the idea at the All African Conference of Churches

(AACC) meeting inAbidjan (1969). Infact, this booklet introduces

you to the first protestant religious community on the African soil,

-thanks to the support of the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon

(PCC). Others have developed more recently in East and South

Africa and more are evidently developing.

IIISTORICAL OVBRVIEW

conception of Rev. Sr. Ma; ffiieine Marie Handy, the

S i sterhoo d o f Emmanuel B afu i c elebrated its'2 s,hannivers ary

in 1996 and by God's grace the year 2007 makes the community 36

years old. The Community was first founded in l971as "Bethany

Sisters". It was then at Makak, in thg:#enter Prövince of Cameroon.

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Amidst strong resistance from the environment who could not

imagine sacrificing their daughterb for the service of God, worst

still owing to ourAfrican traditional belief systems, which give pride

to families whose daughters will get married andbring forth children

and grand children for honor, respect and posterity, she braved the

odds to establish this community. It was first affiliated to the Eglise

Presbytörienne du Cameroun (EPC). The idea of a nunnery in the

Protestant,Churches was still imaginary,particul arly in Afric a, and,

the support was not so strong.

The then'Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon - Rt

Rev. J. c Kangsen of blessed memory who had been in Europe and

understood the concept of celib tucy,visited Makak led by the Spirit

ofGod. He propgsed the sisters to attend the PCC synod in Kumba

in April 197 4. This synod was equally attended by the then General

Secretary of the EPC -the Rev. Jonas Bokas,ne who finally gave the

approval forthe PCC to take over the communitlr if the y arecapable

of taking care. Thus from then, the community became aninstitution

underthe Presbyterian Church in Cameroon (pCe:

Another major problem faced was where and how to get settled.

Rev. Aaron Su later led us up to the North West Province where

we were introduced to the Fon of BafutAbumbi III, who eventually

gave us this piece of land on which we find ourselves todav. We

finally arrived in Bafut to settle on the l g'h Febru ary lg7 5,.i-i"

number and so, constifuted the community. Rev. Aaron Su was

the then Director of the Presbyerian Church Center Mankon. His

family, the Nyamboli family and others, played a very greatrole

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to see the sisters settle and even supplied their daily needs. The

sisters on their part worked extremely hard for survival. We were

on rents and thus, did all we could and rnounted trn'o thatchedhuts,

with sticks, mud and grass, which eventually served as

dormitory and chapel. With the lack of finances and means to

meet up our needs, the community became even more prayerful

and determined. Like the children of Israel, it was another

opportunity to see the hand of God at work through our lives and

as Abraham whom God called (Gen. I2:I-9), we did not look

behind. Our farms etc, could generate some income, and by I 976,

the sisters were able to raise four buildings which were inaugurated

on December 19'h 1976,by the Moderator late Rev. J.C Kangsen.

From then till to-day the community has grown by leaps and

bounds.

II. GEOGRAPHY

Th.

Sisterhood of Emmanuel Bafut is located some 12

I- kilometers from the North West Provincial Head-quarters of

Bamenda. It has a serene environment with a beautiful natural

scenery, that presents a gentle outcrop. Topographically, the

landscape could be described from many fronts. It is gentle,

undulating and flanked on one side by ahuge and flamboyanthilly

outcrop, good to give a panoramic view ofthe neighbourhood. This

scenery thus, shapes the locality with varied drainage patterns, giving

it the beauty it deserves. The locality is covered with vegetation

and fertile. Climatically, Bafut in general has the grass-field type

climate, which is mild and tolerant to all visitors. The environment

of the Sisterhood'of Emmanuel is cool, fresh and very reflective -

reason why it is good for prayers, meditation and retreats.

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\4{HOWAS ItE\{ SR.MA. ,DEIEINE MARIEIIANTDY

T) ev. Sr. Ma deleine Marie

lS' Handy, founderess of the

Mother Magdaleine IVIarie Hancly

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Sisterhood OfEmmanuel was born

on the 5'h ofApril 1932 at Edea as

the 4th child in a family of twelve

children. As a devoted Christian

famitry, very hard working, they

worked with the earlymissionaries

in that' part of the country. It

became a rule for the family to

study in a mission secondary

school after primary education.

Young IVIa :deleine after obtaining her First School Leaving

Certificate gained admission into the Collöge Moderne de Jeunes

Filles at New-Bell Douala, in 1947. Her principal, Miss Michel,

could noJ allow anybody stay back in the dormitory on Sundays,

She gave roorn for everyone to attend church in their different

denominations and encouraged all in living apious and God fearing

life" This greatly acted as a catalyst to push Ma deleine to her

calling" She,developed a special time for personal prayer called

"Appointment with God". During this time, she would sing sorne

hymns, rcadthe Bible and talk to God inprayer. In 1951, all the

Protestants had recei.,,ed'"une Parole Pour Tous" a book with daily

rnerjitations ancl biblical texts to read. on the 16rh of october

1951, as she was canying on with her usual daily ptayet, God

visited her through the message of that day. It seems as if the

message \vas addressed directly to her, which she had to give an

answer to. The message reads thus: "YOU SHALL, BELONG

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ENTIRELYTO THE LORD YOUR GOD". The passage that followed

was as if someone was telling her never to get married and serve

God. Then, she could only think about the Roman catholic

nunneries, but had verylittle chances ofbecoming a Roman Catholic.

Howeveq she answered, "Yes Lord, let your will be done."

On December 6'h I gsl,Madeleine Marie Handythen flew to France

with five other mates, on scholarship for academic pursuits, where

she became a sfudent nurse. Her school was at the Deaconesses

Sisterhood of Reuilly (Paris).

Life in France

In France, the voice of God became stronger and even louder. In

November 1g52, the Deaconesses all over France carne together

at Paris on a spiritual retreat with the theme as, " Our Consecration

is a total Consecration". The student nurses had the opportunity

then to participate in lectures and conferences in the evenilgs.

Her vocation was confirmed one evening when Pastor Bourguet

was preaching a serrnon. It reflected again Deuteronomy lg:13

o'You shall belong entirely to the Lord your God". unfortunately,

the idea of soliciting entry into the community did not occur to

her. Some weeks later, as she slept, she got a revelation from

God, with precise instructions to enter into the Deaconesses

Community. The then Superibr General asked her to wait until

she attains the age of 21. When she communicated the information

back to her family, it was not welcomed and the result was ,,No."

After some hurdles, understanding finally came within the family

ranks and her vocation was later.whole-heartedly accepted. ..She

underwent both practical and spiritual formation, until her

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üonseüratton in 1960, with the guidance of Mother Viviane. After

liaving cornpleted her"h{ursing and Social Worker Training, Mother

Ma, ,deleine h{arie Handy studied at the Faculty of Protestant

f iieology in Paris, and later carried on in'strasbourg and

Heidelberg (6ermany), where in 1967, she registered for a

Dtrctorate Program. The Lord visited her one morning while

studS'in g in the Lib rary, and asked her to immediately retum to

Catneroon. Witliout an3, hesitations, ar-rangements were done by

the Cormnunity and the Carneroon Embassy in Paris and she left

France r,vith three orther sisters. also members of the f)eaconesses

of Reuilly,, France.

In Cameroon the General Secretary of the EPC weleomed them

and she worked in the department of Christian Education. In 1968,

slre becanre a teacher at the "Collöge Evang6lique Libamb a" and

taught Form One to Upper,sixth. Later on, she started the

constructioq of a house that could accommodate 10 persons on a

piece of land donated by her father. And in 1 97 | , the house was

completecl wtrich then was the "Bethany Sisterhood Makak" and

efTectively started in October of that same year after her

sensitization campaigns. In January 1978, she was ordained as

the first fenrale pastor in the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon.

Rev. Sr. Ma',deleine Marie Handy moved on coherently with the

cronrmLrnity until she died in January 1999 in Yaounde, and was

buried at Bafut.

6


u

COMMUNITYLIFEAT SISTERHOOD OFEMMANUET,

ife here might seem very solemn. Monastic nor*s are

respecte9 fot the service and glory of the Lord. Living together

as a community, we have devoted our lives to the service of God

and uphold the views of our vows of Celib acylChastity, poverfy and

Obedience. With inspiration from the Gospel of Jesus Christ, drawn

from Matthew 26: 41, the community has as motto: ..Watch ancl

Pray" . This is highly respected in the community, as it is a necessaly

weapon for the Sisterhood. Each sister must work to be productive,

*LKSlr eq* nqgl be prayerful .

Sisters in the 9JgS!_lyflrAw_orship

Sisters on the Farm

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a) Monastic ExPectations:

Tlre Monastic expectations are seen here in a three-dimensional

framework.

l. The sense of Belonging: A sister at the Sisterhood gf

Emmanuel Bafut is expected to have first and foremost, the sense

of belonging. This sense is expressed through her relationship

with her fellow sisters and the community. There must exist that

sense of oneness, which gives room for the "we feeling" in the

community. Thus this expectation is that of Community

Attachment base,c solely on the teachings of Christ, summaized

in LOVE.

2, The Sense Of Responsibility: Each sister is expected to be

responsible. Responsibility here lies in personality, creativity,

productivity and stewardship. The sisters are one another's keeper

ancl take responsibility to promote God's work.

3. The b.nr* of Direction: A sister at the Sisterhood ef

Emmanuel must have a focus, which is to serve Qod, with no

reservation. The sister is believed to be led by God and should be

very open, willing and available to turn to any direction the Lord

wants through the SuPerior.

CHARISM: The Charism of the Sisterhood ofEmmanuel is: prayer,

service to the poor and needy, whether the needs are spirifual or

practical, service to the Church and Ecumenism.

Drawn from Mk. 14:3-9 -friendship with Jesus forsaken, ignored,

despised, wounded, we have a spirituality of gratitude, a spirituality

of unity as the spirit knows no boundaries. one sentence of the

Eucharistic lirurgy sums up the spirituality of the Sisterhood: "We

proclaim your death, Lord Jesus, we celebrate your resurrection

änd we expect your glorious colning". The different aspects of


the Sisterhood spirituality are expressed daily through liturgical

celebration.

b) Daity Organisation: It consists of meeting together at the

chapel, seven times inlZt:, hours. This is the service of liturgical

prayeq Moreover, the timetable recommends 30 minutes of

personal meditation twice daily. The atmosphere cluring work

ought to be the peace in the heart that awaits on God. Like work,

silence is an integral part of monastio life" We try to maintain

silence throughout the day where we can listen to the quiet voice

of God, which speaks inside the heart

Time Schedule

Rise up

4:30 am

Visils

5:00 - 5:30 am

Personal Med.itation and Praver 5:30' -6:00am

Lauds

6:00 -,6:45 am

Lectio Divina: Biblical meditation

Tierce

Break fast

Work

8:OO 1 1:30am

Sext

L2:OO L2: 1Spm

Lunch

I2:I5 - 1:00 pm

Siesta

4t 00 2245 arn

None

7',20 - L'..30 wt

Work/Classes

2:3O - 4:30 pm

Vesoers

5:00 - 5:45 pm

Supper

5:45 - 6:30 nm

Recreation

6:3O - 7:30 pm

CornplinE

7:3O - 8:00 nm

Great Silence

8:OOnm-4:30 am

c) Becoming A Consecrated Sister 6f Emmanuel

In the colrununity today there are,13 consecrated Reverend sisters

amongst others. The steps and duration to becorne a consecrated

sister are:

6:45 - 7:25 am

7:25 - 7:45 am

7:45' - 8:00 am

- Aspir ancy

- Postulancy

- Noviciate

- Temp orary Professed

9

-3 months

-1 year

-zyears

- 5 years


A sister is expected to have spent at least I years of true monastic

life in the community before taking her final vows to become a

professed and consecrated Rev. sister. Exceptio nally,a sister may

stay longer if she does not live up to expectation or it is found she

is not yet spiritually mature.

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nsecration cerem ony officiut

Rt. Reu Dn Nyansako

Moderator

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d) Sisterhood of Emmanuel BafutAs Seen From lgTS ta 2007

The 2007 just Consecrated sisters, constitute the 5,h batch of

consecrated sisters and so far, 16 sisters have been consecrated in

this community, -thanks to the glory of God. The very first

consecration took place on the 24rh Nov. 19g5 by thä then

Moderator ofthe PCC -the Rt Rev. HenryAnyeAwaso-. Six sisters

took their vows then,

10


!o-d?v,,whou"^"91op.."ffü'#f#'Jx"!?til,Trilä,tlir'"Tärffi fl

Makak to Bafut in 1 97 5 out of a role of four.

The role of the first batch of consecratecl sisters was as follows:

- Sr Judith Ngo Nyemb

- Sr Joy F. Toy

- Sr Jane iVfankaa

- Sr Ann Emmanuel

- Sr Martha Ngo Nge

- Sr Regina Shu (late)

Two are still in the conlmuqity, tw_o have started a Foundation,

one is no longer in the vocation and one is dead

W#A, Ma ,€leine Marie Handy died in lggg. Thus, we have

$ö\Y ters peacefully reting T our sisterhood cemetery.

From l97l t ?997

eight F.u.

Pastors have served as chaplains i'

the Emmanuel sisterliood Bafut. The very first b;i;g Rev. Rhim

Gerhard of German Nationality.

The role of-chaplains in the röm-unity reads as follows:

1.

2,

3.

4.

5.

6.

7,

8.

9,

e)Cc'

, Chaplain

Rev. Rhim Gerhard

Rev. Dr. David S. Gana

Rev. Joe Set Aji-Mvo

Rev" Lucas Asamba

Rev. Fomuso B. Henri

Rev. Kilo Samuel

Rev. Nsai Godlove

Rev. Mebeng David

Rev. Nc enuck Mufunji

ffi,1g,fiY". ++€nö

Activities

; Date

1980 - 1990

1990 - t99s

lgg5'- lggg

1999 - 2000

2000 - 200r

200r - 2004

20a4 - 200,5

200s - 2006

2006 - 2ß43

LO43 -

To match work and faith,the Sisters of Emmanuel are very creative

and productive and as seen herein before, work is one of the main

activities of the community. We have different departments of

work and each sister is assigned to a particular post of rotf., üi*

is her responsibility. This [enerate.sj,,..L*o*r ro, tt . .o**,rnit].;;

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a whole and the day to day running of the community is sustained.

There are three nrain sources ttroueh which the communitv is sustained.

1 . Through our products

2. Through our friends

3. Through our mc'therhouse in France

Products of the Sisterhood 'of Emmanuel Bafut.

1. Cattle Ranch: The communitv,has a small hed from where the

fo I I o w i n g p r o d u c t s a r e p ro d u c e d

Fi;d ffi ffiR.qB ä? tüäö rb-,"ü1, f fl. r= " **

Cheese

Yogurt

2, Sewing Department: There is a

Butter

sewing workshop in the

community. Here we

design and sew choir

robes, cassocks for

Pastors, Priests and other

groups.

Clesricül vestments

t2


3. Paper Department: There is a workshop from where we produce

Handmade Papers and cards

4, Bakery Department:

G

paper from local materials like

sugar cane,elephant stalks etc.

All the various levels of

production are involved here

and the finished products are

post or greeting cards for

marketing.

We have p Bakery department f-rom

brea4

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Bakery Department

5. Guests'House Department: There is a guest house section,

to those who may want to rest out of town in a

.\

serene andpeaceful environment. We have' accommodation

for individuals and groups on retreats, open to all+ Spiritual

accompaniment canbe offered by the sisters.

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6. Magda Shop: The community equally operates a shop at Meta

quarters Bamenda (street leading to hospital roundabout from T:

Junction), wherrffikäf ou, products and other provisions are

marketed.

7. Wafer Department: The coflrmunity produces wafers for the

church (the bread used in Eucharist).

Wafe, production unit

8. Farm Work Department: Thq^c.oryrpuqt1ggpally has small

farm, where they grow plantaint,

ie etc and a

garden. Our harvests are used for food and raw materials for our

products; e.g. jattt and fruit juice from pineapples. This generates

income to the community.

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Frrm wo* seetor

Other Activities:

Since founded, .the community has played a big part in the bringing

up of orphans and children from poor and needy homes. These

children lived in the Sisterhood then, but from 1999,the community

thought it wise to let the children live with families who are friends

of the community so as to let them grow in the parental love and

share that experience" The community continues to take the

responsibility of catering for them by educating and providing for

their needs.

Interesting to note that many of these children are responsible adults

todfuwhile others are still at the level ofprimary schools, sec.ondary

schools etc.


V. EXTERNALRELATIOI{SHIPS:

s Protestant nuns, the community enjoys very cordial and

A

.CL-fraternal relationships with other communities, groups,

individuals and denominations in and out ofthe country The pillar

behind the existence of the Sisterhood ef Emmanuel Bafut is borne

from the "Communaute des Diaconesses de Reuilly" in France as

already mentioned. This community serves today as motherhouse

for the, Sisters of Emmanuel . The bonds between the two

cornmunities are strong enough to see a mother-child relationship

flowing through the veins and fabrics of the communities. This is

the reason why Mother Superior Rev. Sr. Evangeline Vi6 and others,

make it a point of duty to visit us every year. More still, since

I99I; it has become a routine that sisters from the motherhouse

are.sent each year to live with us for more formation and to share

experiences.

To keep .the relationship alive and healthy, every yeat equally,

sisters from the Sisterhood of Emmahuel Bafut travel to France

and other parts of the world for more vocational training and to

share experiences with other communities. So far the sisters have

been on visits, retreats and on vocational trainings in France,

England, Switzerland" Germ&ny, Holland, Egypt, Cotö d'Ivoire,

Burkina Faso, Benin and Nigeria.

\aI. WHO CANJOINTHE SISTERS OFEMMANUEL BAFT]T

T

he doors of the Sisterhood are open to all called by God, who

want to join a Protestant monastic order, to take celibacy not

only as a vocation, but away of life andto put everything in common

under the leadership of our Lord Jesus Christ within the P.CC.

L6


Although so many people are beginning to understand the monastic

life, a signifi cantnumber ofpersons are still to come to terms with

what it is all about. Interesting to note that the values of ourAfrican

traditional belief systems of bearing children, paradoxically widens

the gap of ignorance (Gen. 19: l-9). As such, people erroneously

think becomi ng anun is a taboo or a waste, and could only be for

some class ofpeople. Thus, it should not be a place for people with

wealthy backgrounds and high academic profiles, unlike in some

western countries where many wealthy and educated people like

lecturers, researchers, Doctors etc are called to serye as they make

use by entirely dedicating this rich profile to the service of God.

They bear in mind that all belongs to the Lord and so, most live a

reflective life by trying to bridge the gap between the poor, the rich,

the educated, the uneducated, the sick, the healthy, etc.

A monastic community is Nor equally a hiding place for people,

instead it is a place for those willing to sacrifice their lives to

meditate, ptay and intercede for the world, in their constant

communication with God.

The Sisterhood Of Emmanuel

welcomes all in this line called

community life.

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Bafut against this backdrop,

by God to live this dedicated

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