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"The whole being of men and of all humankind"
On Sunday October 26th, in Koza, in the far north Region of Cameroon, was held a thanksgiving mass in memory of Sister Marie Colin, who passed away June 3rd, 2019 in France.
From Djinglia, a village located in the canton of Koza, at the foothills of the Mandara Mountains which is cultivated in terraces, to Koza, banners were displayed along the way on which you could read this special acknowledgement: "Manga Zhigile dadeka te pambiy" which means: "Our mother, may God welcome you in his peace." A dense crowd from all over, from the plain as well as the mountain, Lamibés (the plural form of Lamido, traditional chief), Deacons and a large number of Priests surrounded Monsignor Bruno ATEBA EDO, Bishop of the diocese of Maroua-Mokolo, the main celebrant of the ceremony. Christians, muslims, protestants, animists, without distinction on grounds of religion, social status, language or age were all present and united for the ceremony given for their Mother "Mother, Mama Marie Colin." A dozen daughters of the Holy Spirit Sisters were also present on this day in Koza for their older Sister in Congregation at the call of the parish that Sister Marie cherished such as the neighboring communities including Djingliya, which became a parish after her arrival in Koza in 1977.
Our Sister Marie Colin took care of several private Catholic schools in the area. She paid particular attention to teachers and each child was considered unique within each school. As a matter of fact Sister Marie Colin arrived in this Far North region at an unforgettable time in its history: "the school of white people" was ignored by the parents. She had to travel long ways under the sun and the rain, climb hot mountains during the dry season and slippery in the rainy months, in order to conquer the hearts to this school… About fifty children named "The children of Marie Colin" were the living proof of the work of our Sister in the field of integral education and development of "the whole being of men and of all humankind" (Encyclical 'Populorum Progreeio' by Paul VI on the topic of the development of peoples, 1967). With heartrending testimonies and tee-shirts with the wording "Thank you Mama", they all have paid a dignified tribute to their dear Mama, from now on our mother to us all. She is going to be greatly missed, they said! However, they feel consoled by the ongoing presence of the Sisters of the Holy Spirit in Koza and are really grateful towards the Congregation and the Vice-province: they said that all the Daughters of the Holy Spirit are from now on their mothers as a replacement of their "Mama Marie"!
Monsignor, in his homily, emphasized the importance of giving thanks, to be thankful in all aspects and for everything. By repeatedly using the word "Yaowa" (thank you) borrowed from the tongue of the Mafa people, Monsignor Bruno, from beginning to end, praised Sister Marie Colin as if he knew her during her lifetime. At the heart of his homily, he gave way to "the sons and daughters of Marie Colin" for edifying testimonies. For this occasion, towards the end of the mass, a song a thanksgiving, composed in the Mafa language, entitled with the name of Sister Marie, was sung by the choir. The whole church was standing and vibrating to the rhythm of the dance steps and the song. Joy in Koza, Djingliya and all the surrounding villages!
Then the floor was given to Sister Pauline Maïsenso, Vice-Provincial of Cameroon, who in turn, in simple and touching terms, expressed words of gratitude and farewell to Sister Marie Colin. All the Daughters of the Holy Spirit present danced while singing in chorus the beautiful song composed for our Founder on the occasion of her 350 years, replacing the name of Marie Balavenne by… Marie Colin! From the captivated crowd, several joined, in the front of the altar, the circle of the sisters !
The ceremony was at the height of the love that this mountain population had for our Sister, their loving "Mother" in Christ.
Sister Christine DIDJA. Published November, 7th, 2019