A beautiful vocation story by a dedicated Dominican priest from Cameroon, Africa, who was ordained a deacon in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada and recently ordained a priest in the Cameroon, Africa. (Picture: Fr. Tagheu on the day of his diaconal ordination with Archbishop Terrence Prendergast in Ottawa)
Called and Sent to Preach: From Cameroon to Ottawa
I am Brother Jean Paul Tagheu, OP, from the West Cameroon region. I entered the Order thanks to Gabriel Tchonang, a priest from the Diocese of Strasbourg, and Brigitte, a Christian from the same diocese. After the novitiate in Kigali (Rwanda), I made my first profession on August 8, 2011 at Mount Sion in Bujumbura (Burundi). I belong to the Vicariate of Equatorial Africa (a Vicariate of the Province of France) which currently includes three countries of Central Africa: Cameroon, the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) and the Central African Republic.
Before entering the Order, I studied French modern letters until my master's degree. I had also studied philosophy until Master and did a year of theology. During my high school and university years, I was an agri-food trader in my home region. I then went to Yaounde (the political capital of Cameroon) where I worked as a manager in a commercial store and in the marketing of food products of several consumer companies of the place. For five years, precisely from 2006-2010, I worked finally as secretary of supervision at the exams of the second cycle at the Catholic college François Xavier Vogt of Yaounde.
In the parish, from 1999 to 2010, I worked as a pastoral animator in the field of catechesis, parish caritas, street evangelism, etc. As part of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal where I discerned the divine call, I worked in the ministry of public evangelization, caritas with the S.D.F. (Without Fixed Residence), and that of the visit to the sick in hospitals. That is why the compassion and mercy of Dominic ("My God, my mercy, have mercy on your people, what will become of sinners?") Has been, in my life, like the "tolle lege! (Take and read!) In the life of St. Augustine. It is she who motivated me to the fact of my vocation of brother preacher that I still learn to be, "in faith to the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me. "(Ga 2,20).
Indeed, still young, in my 19-20 years, while I was finishing high school in my native region, my dream was to go to Ethiopia to take one or two children that I will raise and adopt as my own so to save them from the misery and famine that was raging in Ethiopia at the time. So I decided not to get married, but not yet for religious reasons. It was a philanthropic or altruistic humanism that I learned from personalist philosophers such as Mounier Emmanuel, Gabriel Marcel and poets of African resistance and rebirth, such as Césaire, Frantz Fanon, and many others, in the context of colonization and the wars of independence of the 60s. Thus, my discovery that Dominic, our father and brother in Christ, sold his academic goods to help the poor of his time bruised by misery joined me a lot in this project . Rather, I understood that I could be part of his project following Christ.
So far, I have understood from the mercy which is the premise of the gifts we ask for at the entrance of the Order, that I am the first 'Ethiopian' to save by my conversion to this Mercy, the search for the Truth, life following this Truth and its preaching in word and deed (1 Jn 3: 18). It is from there, perhaps, that I will be able to realize my dream of youth, no longer as such, but by preaching for the salvation of the poor sinners of whom I am the first.
It is surely to help me to fulfill this mission that, within the framework of the IAOP (the Dominican inter-African of Africa), I was sent to the Dominican University College of Ottawa for a thesis in dogmatic theology, precisely the Christology of incarnation.
For the begging of this mercy, I like this prayer of St. Augustine that will follow. I love it, not because I am the youngest of my family - "we are born too late in a world too old" (Alfred de Musset), but also because, if I dare to believe it and say it, I am one of the last-hour called (Mt 20: 1-16): perhaps not those of the eleventh hour necessarily (17 pm), but not those of the sixth (noon) either. Here is the prayer. Pray with me so that the Gospel prophecy that "the first will be the last" (Mt 20, 16 TOB) is also fulfilled for me with regard to my vocation, my life and my mission as a preacher in the Order of Friars Preachers:
Well late, I loved you, O Beauty
Very late I loved you, O beauty so old, and always so new, very late I loved you. But what! You were inside, me outside of myself; and I sought you outside; and I pursued the beauty of your creatures with my ugliness. Well late, I loved you, O Beauty
Very late I loved you, O beauty so old, and always so new, very late I loved you. But what! You were inside, me outside of myself; and I sought you outside; and I pursued the beauty of your creatures with my ugliness. You were with me, and I was not with you; kept away from you by all that, without you, would be nothingness. You called me, and now your cry is forcing the deafness of my ear; Your splendor shines, it drives away my blindness; Your perfume, I breathe it, and behold, I sigh for you; I have tasted you, and I am consumed with hunger and thirst; You touched me, and I burn with the desire of Your peace. Amen (St. Augustine, Confessions VII, chap 10, 16, X, chap 27, 38.)
Submitted to Catholic News World - by: Brother Jean Paul TAGHEU, OP