Wednesday, 30 May 2007


By Clement Talla

Father Robert Tanto came home to Tabenken to celebrate the silver jubilee of his ordination on 6 May 2007. The celebration began with Holy Mass at 9.15 a.m. Father Tanto himself was chief celebrant, and assisted by 9 priests.
Before the Mass proper began, the parish priest of Tabenken, Rev. Father Charles Mbuntum welcomed all present and said it was a sign of gratitude for Father Tanto to celebrate his jubilee in his home village. He wished that the celebration would be an occasion of renewal of commitment to service in the Church. He hoped that the celebration would be an encouragement for more vocations from the village.
Drawing on the readings of the day, Father Tanto delivered a written homily on he them of Love: Love one another. He emphasised that Jesus gives the command of love to believers. It is, therefore our responsibility as Christians to witness to love, not hatred, forgiveness, not retaliation. He underscored the love of the missionaries who brought the Catholic faith to his village, appreciating their sacrifices. He said about the missionaries: “ They loved us and wanted to share their faith with us. It must be love that moved the first Fathers to trek the whole area that we now know as North West Province to bring the word of God to our peoples. In 1922 when the Mill Hill Missionaries arrived in Cameroon there was only one parish in the entire North West Province, Shisong. Four Fathers trekked to all the mission stations which included Tabenken, Njinikom, and Mankon”. He informed the congregation that he was using for the celebration of the Eucharist that day a Chalice which the First Parish Priest of Tabenken, Cornelius Hoovenars gave “to the first son of Tabenken to become a priest”.
The liturgy was richly spiced by the presence of the Mission Samba and the Ngiri of Father Tanto’s Family. The solemnity of the Ngiri’s Offertory Procession was remarkable.
The Chairman of the Pastoral Council thanked Father Tanto for coming to celebrate with them in the parish where his umbilical cord was buried. He expressed his belief that the mystical connection Father Robert had with his people would contribute to his wellbeing. He expressed satisfaction that Father Robert remembered his people and remarked that his coming home would encourage more vocations.
On his part Father Robert thanked God for the gift of priesthood and for the opportunity God had given him to witness to his love in the different assignments given him by his bishops. He was serving God under the third bishop since ordination. He also looked back to the years when he grew up in the village and thanked his mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters for the encouragement and support they gave him. By coming to celebrate thanksgiving with them, he hoped to receive fresh encouragement to persevere in the service of the Lord with renewed dedication.
He appreciated the people for keeping their appointment to support him with their prayers. Through the Song written and executed by the Holy Family Choir for him 25 years ago the people had promised to back him up with their prayers. He had felt their prayers backing him up like a fully charged battery. He encouraged his people to keep their love for one another.
A sumptuous reception followed Holy Mass at the SASH Hall. Traditional dances crowned the celebration which ended in SASH Hall at about 4.30 p.m. But feasting continued at Father Robert’s mother’s house till the early hours of Monday 7th May. The Royal Dance, Kishe’ accompanied Father Robert till he retired for the night.


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