Cardinal Sean O’Malley appoints Priest of Mamfe Diocese as Parish Priest of Ste. Anne’s Church in Boston 0

The Parishioners

Ste Anne, Salem MA

Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston

Dear Holy People of God,

 Appointment of Fr. Casmia Wiybirwo BELLO as Parish Priest of Ste. Anne’s Church, Salem MA

With great joy, I write to inform you that on Thursday, June 23, His Eminence, Sean Cardinal O’Malley, appointed Fr. Casmia W. Bello, priest of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Mamfe, Cameroon, as parish priest of Ste. Anne Parish, Salem MA, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston.

Fr. Casmia was born on February 14, 1981 in Nso, Bui Division of Cameroon. He did his Minor Seminary studies at St. Aloysius Minor Seminary Kitiwum, Kumbo. He went on to obtain a BA in Philosophy from St. Thomas Aquinas Major Seminary, Bambui, Cameroon; a BSc in Economics from the University of Buea, Cameroon; and a BA in Theology from Blessed Iwene Tansi Major Seminary, Onitsha, Nigeria, graduating Summa Cum Laude.

Fr Casmia was ordained a priest on July 5th 2014 in Mamfe, Cameroon. After his ordination he served as parochial vicar at Immaculate Conception parish Nguti, Cameroon; Parish Priest cum School Manager of Holy Eucharist parish Tinto, Cameroon (Sept. 2014 – Oct. 2016). From November 2016 to June 2020, he served as Parish Priest cum School Manager of Divine Mercy Parish Nkongle, and also Principal of John Paul II Secondary School, Nkongle, Cameroon.

In the Spring of 2020, Fr Casmia was missioned to Boston College by the Most Rev. Andrew F. Nkea, JCD, then Apostolic Administrator of Mamfe Diocese, for graduate studies. He obtained an MA in Leadership and Administration from Boston College in May 2022. While residing at Ste. Anne’s in the duration of his graduate studies, Fr Casmia has served as a Chaplain of the Catholic Women Association, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Branch, Boston, MA; Chaplain of the Precious Blood of Jesus Devotional Group, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston; and recently, Chaplain of the Jesus is Lord Catholic Charismatic Group, Ste. Anne Church.

On a personal note, I would say that it has been a privilege to count myself a friend of Fr. Casmia for over 22 years and counting. His humility; his deep faith in the living Lord; his love for our Blessed Mother Mary; his unassuming personality; his profound piety and deep love for the Church, hidden behind a shy demeanor, and more, in my opinion, make Fr. Casmia a great gift to you, the people of God of this beautiful and culturally diverse family of God that is Ste. Anne’s. Living with Fr. Casmia these two years here in Salem, I have found in him a dependable priest of God, someone you can count on as a spiritual leader. I firmly believe that in Fr. Casmia, you will find a pastor’s heart that will love you, willing to accompany you on the holy journey, sharing in your joys and crosses, in a spirit of great patience, for as Benedict XVI beautifully reminds us, the world is saved by God’s patience and destroyed by the impatience of men and women.

In Fr. Casmia, you will find a priest that will always be there for and with you. I think of Augustine of Hippo’s sermon on John 10: the shepherd, unlike the hireling and the brigand, never runs or shy away from the cross, precisely because what animates the shepherd is love for Christ, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the consciousness, as Pope St. Paul VI will write centuries letter in his August 1964 encyclical EcclesiamSuam, that the Church, the people of God, its human dimension notwithstanding, is a reality that came about thanks to the explicit will of Christ.Paul VI’s great and esteemed successor, Benedict XVI, will describe this reality of the Church as the will of Christ with the iconic phrase, “the Church, the story God himself has created.”And from my own limited experience of “daily becoming a Christian” (Kierkegaard), and a priest, I can say that to love Christ always comes with the reality of suffering, of the Cross. It was the French philosopher Blaise Pascal that captured this aspect when he declared this ageless axiom, “Christ is on the Cross, until the end of the world.”

Dear Holy People of God, this is my last formal communication with you. From Monday June 27, 2022, I will cease being the spiritual leader of this beautiful family. It has been a journey with great spiritual joys. I think of the little steps that together, with the living Jesus in our midst that we were able to initiate. Amongst others, the Year of the Bible comes to mind, which has led to our monthly Bible Study sessions, moderated by Professors from Boston College and St John’s Seminary, Boston; I think of the daily community Rosary prayers; I think of the Thursdays Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament; I think of the new choirs, especially the Children’s choir; I think of the celebration of the 120th Anniversary of our parish; then we have our Men’s Faith Sharing Group; the Charismatic Group; the Precious Blood Group; the Book Club; the Pro-Life Group; the Prayer Ministry; the strengthening of the new communities, especially the welcoming of the Congolese Community into the parish; the strengthening of the Parish and Finance councils and the other new ministries. How can we not be grateful to the living Lord for our Advent and Lenten retreats, especially those on the “Our Father” and the “Mysteries of the Holy Mass”! And now, we are launching our parish Year of the Eucharist, which will be the task of Fr. Casmia to bring to completion, as part of our Five-Year Spiritual Development Plan, that together as a parish family, we launched in the Fall of 2019.

I also think of the complete renovation of our parish rectory; the heating and other repairs in our Church building; and now, the repairs of the parish center building which Fr. Casmia, by God’s grace, in a spirit of a hermeneutic of continuity, will have to bring to completion. I encourage especially the new communities of the parish to be especially generous to this effort. As I have often pointed out concerning fundraising, faith is free, but religion is very expensive. Over time, Fr. Casmia will need to raise half a million dollars to completely repair and modernize the parish center. And since the Church will be here until the Second Coming of Christ, we have to do our part to preserve the physical structures of the parish. We owe it to the next generation to preserve, as much as we humanly can, the structures that earlier generations have bequeathed to us. You will be supporting the ministry of Fr. Casmia if you make it a point of duty to contribute towards the repairs of the pastoral center, including it in your grocery list, vacation budgets, your wills, etc. All these small steps, I believe, have helped us and will continue to help us appreciate the beauty of the Church as a “living organism,” to use the phrase of the Italian-German precursor of the Second Vatican Council, Romano Guardini. I have always been amazed by the vision that the Apostle John saw while a prisoner in the Island of Patmos: After this, Looked, there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb (Revelation 7:9). Is this what our parish family is? People from different continents gathered around the living Lord! John’s vision reveals the fascinating character of the Church in heaven.

As I have pointed out severally, the Church is not a product of a Cartesian res cogitans, whose being emanates from our clever thinking. If anything, the Church goes ahead of us, of our thinking. Her being is a mystery that even when we strive to capture all the intricacies that mark her being, it is in the nature of the Church to be more than we can think of her. The Church is wiser than the most brilliant professor from Harvard or Boston College, in that the Church’s wisdom is the God-Man, Jesus Christ. Hence, the proper hermeneutical framework for approaching the Church, in fact, the most comprehensive basis for understanding Ste. Anne as a part of the Church is faith, a faith that seeks to understand. This is not to discard rationality. In fact, on a subjective note, I tend to understand and thanks to my understanding, I believe. Faith, God, and the Church, from my own perspective, appear to me, in the words of Descartes, as clear and distinct ideas: intellegoutcredam (John Paul II, Fides et Ratio, III). But in all, faith is a legitimate way of seeing the Church and of seeing the world (Pascal). Ratzinger characterizes faith as the organ of the heart that sees. And in seeing the Church with the eyes of faith, we end up seeing ourselves anew, as something willed and loved by God, called to share in God’s life, so much so that in the human aspiration to become God, we answer in the affirmative, with Blondel: yes, we want to become God with God, and not God without God (Hegel and Nietzsche). And only by becoming God with God that we enter into the definitive meaning of who we are as humans, for God has created us for Himself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in God (Augustine of Hippo).

My gratitude to the staff, the volunteers, and Fr. Jim Morris, Fr. Edmund Ugweogbu, Fr. Ernest Egebdike, Fr. Denis Tameh, Fr. Kevin Sakwe and Fr. Casmia Bello, for your companionship and friendship during these years. I wish Fr. Casmia a beautiful and fruitful ministry as the spiritual leader of Ste. Anne. Twenty-two years after we first met as classmates in the Propaedeutic Year at Vianney Centre, Bafut, Cameroon, you are now my successor! Mysterium ecclesiae! Now, with Fr. Casmia, a new chapter beginsin the long history of Ste. Anne’s. Every parish priest opens a new chapter in the life of a parish. God be with Fr. Casmia. Be assured of my closeness in prayer and my moral support. The Blessed Virgin Mary whom you dearly love, will always accompany you with her maternal intercession, now and always.

In Jesus and Mary,

Rev. Maurice Agbaw-Ebai, S.T.D., Ph.D.

Outgoing Parish Priest

Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary