Catholic Women’s Association Cameroon
P.O. Box 113, Mankon, Bamenda – N. W. Region, Republic of Cameroon,
Tel.: (237) 77 77 07 98 / 77 46 42 92 / 77 76 45 96
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org,
ABOUT THE CWA
The Catholic Women’s Association Cameroon was founded in 1964 in Buea, South West Region of Cameroon in answer to the universal call of the lay faithful to holiness (Cf. Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, No. 39; decree on the Apostolate of the Lay People, Apostolicum Actuositatem, Nos. 5-11). From the beginning of the association, this ‘wonderful gift’ of God to us, like a mustard seed has grown into a mighty tree that now shades the Catholic women throughout the length and breadth of Cameroon and beyond. The small group of about ten women in 1964 in Buea has now extended to over sixteen thousand women in all the Ecclesiastical Provinces of Cameroon and beyond including in the United States of America.
The Catholic Women’s Association Cameroon was founded in 1964 in Buea, South West Region of Cameroon in answer to the universal call of the lay faithful to holiness (cf. Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution Gentium, no 39 decree on the Apostolate of the lay people, Apostolicium Actuositatem, Nos 5-11). The Association was established by a committed group of about ten Catholic women shortly after Independence and Reunification of West and East Cameroon; also after Vatican II when there was a lot of political and social awareness among men and women in West Cameroon and a strong desire for their active participation in political and church affairs.
Madam Anna Foncha, wife of the then Prime Minister, had visited Catholic Women’s Organizations in America, and France during her political tours with the view of starting a similar organization in Cameroon. Mrs. Chilla and Mrs. Atabong respectively had had contacts with Catholic “women’s League” and “Catholic Mothers” during their study days in England. When Mrs. Foncha came back they got together and invited some Catholic women in the Catholic Mission Buea Town, to launch an Association for Catholic Women. The then Bishop of Buea, Bishop Jules Peeters was contacted for ecclesial approval. He was delighted with this initiative of lay women striving to start a ” Lay Group for Catholic Women” in the Diocese. He raised no objection nor placed obstacles on their way; rather, he gave his blessing and approval for the Association to be established. The Catholic Women’s Association Cameroon started at the Buea Town Mission in April 1964.
The CWA is recognized by the Holy See and it is apolitical. The Patroness of the Association is Our Blessed Virgin Mother whom we honor under the Title of “Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception”. Our greeting is: “Through Mary To Jesus”; and Our Motto is: “To Serve An Not To Be Served”
The objectives of the CWA are:
• To achieve a true renewal of the spirituality of its members founded on Baptism in answer to the universal call to holiness (Cf. Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, no. 39).
• To translate this spirituality into action through “works of the apostolate, such as initiatives for evangelization, works of piety or charity, and those which animate the temporal order with the Christian spirit” (Canon 298 §1).
• To enable members to model their lives after the lifestyle of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Patron Saint of the CWA.
• To provide special education and training for members in social development activities and family life in order to enhance their contribution to the integral development of the person and of society.
Today the Catholic women are even more convinced about their daily efforts to answer to the call to be holy, bound by their commitment and love for the Church and their desire to serve the Church and Society, in accordance with the Apostolic Exhortation of Pope John Paul II, Christi Fideles Laici, Nos 16-17. The small group of about ten women in 1964 in Buea has now extended to over sixteen thousand women in all the Ecclesiastical Provinces of Cameroon and beyond including in the United States of America.
• The headquarters of the CWA is in Bamanda, Cameroon.
• Presently, the CWA is subdivided into the branch, zonal, divisional, diocesan, provincial, and national branches. Apart from the national level, each branch, zone, division, diocese and province has a similar hierarchy.
• Officials consist of a president and vice, secretary and vice, treasurer, financial, publicity and social secretaries, two auditors, two advisers, one or more animators and a spiritual director, appointed by competent ecclesiastical authority.
• At the national level, however, the executive deviates a bit in that besides all other portfolios, there are two vice presidents. Activities CWA activities are varied. They include reaching resolutions and recommendations for Africa Regional Conferences, essentially carried out under several headings such as spiritual and doctrinal formation for members, parochial spiritual and charitable actions, social uplifting like courses, seminars and lectures on social and economic issues, fund-raising to realise projects and educational visits.
The CWA has brought together thousands of Catholic women from all parts of the country, who are today actively involved in the life and work of the association. The CWA stretches its arms to all the five ecclesiastical provinces of the Church in Cameroon. It has established a link between national and international bodies, empowering women in different walks of life by providing useful skills for the spiritual and socio-economic development of its members and different parishes and dioceses. Through these activities many have developed leadership skills. It is also one of the leading groups in spearheading the Church’s evangelization mission.
Through the years the CWA has also spent substantial amounts for money in implementing a variety of projects many of these geared towards reaching out to the sick, the aged, prisoners, paying school fees for orphans and other needy children, organizing workshop and seminars to educate out youths on current issues such as child trafficking, HIV/AIDS awareness, the effect of the media, the environment and globalization. The CWA has consistently provided moral and financial assistance to our seminarians, clergy, religious, catechists and members of the association.
CWA in the United States of America
The year 2003 marked another milestone in the history of the Catholic Women Association, Cameroon (CWA) this time around not in Cameroon but in the Diaspora, and particularly in the United States of America.
Over the past two decades, many Cameroonians have migrated to the USA. Among these immigrants were also members of the CWA. Yes! They left their Motherland to settle in a new country with a different culture. However, they brought along their cultures, ways of life and strived to integrate these into the American ways of life.
On June 26th, 2003 inspired by the true ideal and living of the CWA and guided by the Holy Spirit a group of twelve women headed by Mrs. Hilda Tantoh, a then member of the CWA National Executive who had moved to Baltimore from Cameroon founded the CWA in the at the Immaculate Heart Of Mary Parish in Lorch Raven, Baltimore.
Membership to the CWA in the United States is open not only to women from Cameroon, but to all women of the Catholic Faith. Today, the CWA in the United States has eight branches with membership including Americans, Nigerians and Cameroonians: three branches in Maryland (Baltimore, Silver Spring and Bowie); one in Houston, Texas; one in Delaware; one in Atlanta, Georgia; one in Boston Massachusetts; and one in Arlington, Virginia.
Based on the objectives of the CWA, through these years the CWA in the USA has successfully integrated into our respective parishes and Archdiocesan communities and continues to:
1. First as mothers of the church, with a CWA mother in the family which is regarded as a domestic church, our efforts are geared towards using our spirituality in inculcating values of good citizenship in our children who are the leaders of tomorrow.
2. Be agents of inclusion. Members of the CWA are very instrumental in promoting unity in diversity in our different parishes by blending the African cultural ways of worship with that of other cultures. We are involved in our parishes as lectors, choristers, ushers, communion ministers; and multi-cultural events such as picnics.
3. Evangelize and work to bring back fallen Christians to the faith, through participation in parish and community activities.
4. Participate in Priestly ordinations.
5. Undertake charitable activities within our respective Archdioceses. Such activities include (i) visits to nursing homes and provision of basic needs to those who are virtually without family -these visits are always complemented by continuous phone calls as we become their “family” ; (ii) reaching out to the members of the Pregnancy Centers and assisting them with clothing money to help the abandoned children in this facility; (iii) providing non – perishable food items to St Vincent De Paul Society for the food pantry to feed the homeless.
Our charitable activities are sustained primary through CWA membership and annual dues; and donations from family and friends who support the ideal of the CWA.
On the other hand, CWA continues to support the local Catholic Church in Cameroon in many ways including through:
1. Receiving and working with the CWA National Executive ( President) within the spirit of the Association during their visits to the United States;
2. Annual seminary dues to assist in the formation of young priest at the Major Seminary in Cameroon;
3. Contribution to various projects identified by the CWA National Executive; and
4. Assisting Cameroonian Bishops and clergy during their Pastoral visits to the United States.
CWA Golden Jubilee Celebrations July 16-20, 2014, Bamenda, Cameroon
The CWA celebrated it’s Golden Jubilee (1964- 2014) from July 16-20th 2014 in Bamenda, Cameroon under the theme “The CWA At 50: Agents Of Evangelization With Renewed Vigor And Commitment Through Faith And Love In Action”.
One of the objectives of the CWA is to translate the spirituality of members into action through “works of the apostolate, such as initiatives for evangelization, works of piety or charity, and those which animate the temporal order with the Christian spirit” (Canon 298 §1). It is in this spirit that to mark to mark 50 years of existence, the CWA has embarked on construction in Bamenda, the CWA Headquarters, an Empowerment Centre for Underprivileged Girls and Women which will provide opportunities in domains such as dress making, computer literacy, hairdressing, home management, marketing and commerce.
Furthermore in keeping with the motto of the CWA ‘To Serve and not to be Served’ members have through the years rendered untiring quality service to the church, family and the society. The vocational training of the underprivileged girl child as conceived by the CWA is purely charitable and would on its own not generate any funds. It is a social project to fight poverty, child delinquency, prostitution, and unemployment. This is where the concept of constructing rooms and a hall for hire comes in and funds from this activity will help run the vocational center as well as subsidize projects of the CWA such as HIV/AIDS awareness and testing, vaccination campaigns and other charitable programs. In addition, there would be job opportunities (teaching and support staff) for individuals in the community including members of the association.