You may remember Fr Innocent, a Mill Hill Missionary, whom we first introduced to our UK supporters in 2021. Fr Innocent’s mission has been inspired and sustained by Laudato Si’. Seeing the degradation and harm done to our precious planet, he has worked tirelessly both to campaign on climate change and to actively work to halt its devastating effects.
Since 2021 Fr Innocent has been Mill Hill Superior in Cameroon – the first Cameroonian to be appointed to the role. His passion for Jesus and for his people continue to inspire his Parish community to care for our world and clean up our pollution. In doing so, he has also created food gardens which help nourish the many people who need immediate help in Bamenda.
10,000 plastic bottles
Fr Innocent is no stranger to rolling up his sleeves and getting stuck in. He constructed the community garden using plastic bottles he collected on the tenth anniversary of his ordination to the Priesthood. He previously told us:
‘I decided to start a project dubbed ‘3,650 plastics at 10’. I wanted to pick 3,650 plastic bottles – one for each day of my Priesthood – so that we can free our environment from littering and all the plastic bottles which are around.’
But he soon realised the goal was far too easy to reach, as over 10,000 waste plastic bottles flooded in to his collection. Seeing the mountain of rubbish which so effortlessly mounts up only made Fr Innocent more passionate about the environment. He told ACI Africa:
‘There is a lot of what I could call ignorance among the people of Cameroon. The country has a good amount of tree cover. There are lots of heavy forests and the people have food. They therefore take so much for granted. Cameroon is a land of plenty. And even though we have started experiencing changing weather patterns, the people simply can’t piece everything together. They cut trees to build houses and never care to plant other trees. They think that the forests will be here forever.’
‘The cry of the earth, the cry of the poor’
Fr. Innocent has met this lack of education head on, and is raising awareness wherever and however he can. The community garden grows collard greens, tomatoes, spinach, watermelons, cucumber and maize. It’s food that is used for meals in the Parish and given to people in the community in need.
He said that parishioners as well as the community around the Parish are starting to appreciate his work by asking for tips on how to set up the beautiful gardens in their homes!
Laudato Si’ in action
3560 at 10 is now a thriving community both in real life and online. He recently sent us videos of the community garden, where they are reusing plastic sacks to grow potatoes:
They’re also encouraging planting avocado trees, as part of a 50,000 tree nursery in Bambili village, Bamenda:
Fr Innocent is passionate about sharing his message and countering the lack of education which is contributing to his beloved home’s pollution problems. So now he is opening up the gardens and the fisheries so people can come and learn. We loved this film of him explaining to local children about the fisheries and plastic recycling:
Working together for the planet and its people
Fr Innocent’s tireless commitment to stewarding God’s earth and protecting the people and wildlife on it puts fresh heart into the most jaded climate campaigner. He embodies the Church in action, and is such an example of what mission can achieve in the face of setbacks and overwhelming opposition. And we in England and Wales can learn so much from him, and his amazing and committed community.
Together, we can!
The mission to stall climate change and stabilise our precious planet is the biggest challenge many of us will face in our lifetimes. But nothing is impossible with God’s help. You can join this mission today by:
- Praying for Fr Innocent’s mission and for all missionaries who work to combat climate change and its effects on poor communities. Find our prayers for the environment and links to Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ here>>
- Supporting missionaries like Fr Innocent in their work by donating to Missio here>>
- Getting inspired by Fr Innocent and his community by starting – or joining – environmental groups in your parish or community. Together we can turn the tide on environmental crisis.
- For over 80 years Missio and the Mill Hill Missionaries have been working in partnership through the Red Box. Find out more about the Red Box partnership here>>