Two years ago, Fr Cosmas Ondari MHM was shot and killed outside his Church in Cameroon. Here, his fellow Mill Hill Missionary, Fr Guylain Agbasoa MHM, gives his personal memory of this calm, soft-spoken man of peace.

His last words to me, a few minutes before his death, while we were at table for lunch are still very fresh to me and always will be:

“I have no other future. I wanted to become a priest and of course that was my future and I have met it. It is you who should fight for your future. But I know you will be a priest, a good priest and missionary. You will come back here and continue with this work!”

These words will resound in my heart and for with these words, Fr Cosmas lives on.

The weight of the question

As I was requesting admission to the St Joseph’s Missionaries Society, Fr John Kirwan MHM asked me a question. He used these words in Lingala: “Oyebi eloko ozali kutuna?” literally: “Do you know what you are requesting?” I was not able to give an answer. But as my journey went on with the Mill Hill Missionaries, especially during my missionary experience programme in Kembong Parish in Cameroon, I came to know the weight of that question. This made me reflect on it, especially during the turmoil of the death of Fr Cosmas. I got an answer to the question asked by Fr John Kirwan MHM when I carried the body of Fr Cosmas in the pool of his blood after being shot dead by Cameroonian Forces.

The day Fr Cosmas made his Perpetual Oath, as a Mill Hill Missionary, dedicating himself for life to the work of the mission, he was given a red sash. This red sash was a sign of love and service to which he was called. At the same time, this red sash was a sign of his readiness to lay down his life in the service and for the sake of the Gospel.

The Anglophone Crisis in Cameroon is ongoing. Find out more about the conflict here>>

The beauty of this choice

I remember when the conflict reached us in Kembong on the 1st October 2017. We could have escaped by running, but Fr Cosmas chose to endure and suffer with the people, giving his life in the process. This for me was a practical living of the red sash. In a way, this red sash was energizing him and even those who are still there. He could have left Kembong because of the crisis but he endured the “cross”. I believe that the red sash reminded him of the day he said “yes” to his final missionary commitment. He chose to work with the Lord as a missionary. I believe that was the real motivation over the difficult moments he faced in Kembong.

This is the beauty of the life we have chosen, which is at the very heart of our spirituality. Actually this makes a real impact to all of us called to loving service.

There is no ideology in this journey we have chosen. I have a conviction that the life of a missionary is always characterised by joys and pains, and most of all, uncertainty. During the dark moment in Kembong, I believe, Fr Cosmas was mostly helped and assured by his red sash, a sign of the love and service he had accepted. It must have been such a great energy for endurance and perseverance in his time at Kembong in Cameroon.

As I speak of the red sash and the love and service that it carries, I remember all our brave Mill Hill Missionaries in Cameroon, those who are enduring the harshness of the cross.

May Fr Cosmas continue to enjoy the eternal bliss’.

Fr Guylain Agbasoa MHM

Cameroon conflict

We continue to pray for everyone who is affected by the ongoing crisis in Cameroon – a crisis made so much worse by the impact of the Coronavirus in 2020. Missio is supporting missionaries in the country and in Nigeria to help families fleeing the conflict.

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  • November is the month of remembrance. you can make any donation to Missio a gift in memory via our online donation process. We remember all Missio supporters in our prayers and record the names of those who have died in our Book of Remembrance.

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