His Lordship Bishop Francis Teke Lysinge, Bishop Emeritus of Mamfe Diocese was joined by a sellout crowd of Roman Catholics, Protestants including non-believers on the occasion of his Golden Jubilee as Priest in the vine yard of the Lord in Mamfe recently. When Bishop Lysinge was voted Cameroon Concord Man of the Year in 2014, our US Bureau Chief, Bertrand Etukeni Agbaw-Ebai profiled him in a soul-searching article. We hereby present an extract of the write up:
Born on December 28th 1938 in Bokwango-Buea from a protestant family as Godwill Lysinge Teke and later changed to Francis Teke Lysinge was the first Bakweri ordained Priest in April 17, 1966 by His Lordship Bishop Julius Peteer together with the outspoken Cardinal Christian Tumi. The genesis of its priestly formation started in St. Joseph College Sasse [first catholic secondary school] where the Holy Family Junior seminary was opened and attached to Sasse College at the time [1953-1958].
In 1960-1966 Bishop Lysinge enrolled at the Brigard Memorial Seminary Enugu and studied Philosophy and Theology. He returned to Buea and was ordained to the Sacred Priesthood an epochal ceremony described by the then Cameroon Information Bulletin as “rare and unforgettable” as the ordination recorded in attendance the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Cameroon, John Ngu Foncha, Prime Minister of West Cameroon Augustine Ngom Jua, Leader of the West Cameroon Legislature Dr. E.M.L Endeley and other top dignitaries.
After his ordination as Priest his first Pastoral work took him to Mamfe to become the first historic black Priest for the population and the Catholic faithful in Mamfe from January 1966 to April 1967. From Mamfe, he further worked in the following areas Mankon, Sacred Heart Parish Fiango as Curate, Akwaya before going to Rome for further studies in Spiritual Theology. When he returned from Rome he was immediately sent to St. Thomas Aquinas Major Seminary Bambui as Spiritual Director from 1975-1979 and from 1990-1999 respectively.
On February 22, 1999, as a historical coincidence, the Apostolic Nuncio Mgr, Felix Del Blanco announced the creation of the Diocese of Mamfe, and its first residential Bishop Mgr. Francis Teke Lysinge who was the first black Priest to have worked in Mamfe. On Wednesday, April 21, 1999, all roads were leading to Mamfe for the Episcopal ordination of Bishop-elect. Fourteen other Bishops including one from Nigeria, personal representative of the Head of State, Prof. Elvis Ngolle Ngolle, the then Minister of Special Duties at the Presidency of the Republic with over 20.000 faithful and onlookers who had come to witness the event.
After 14 years as Bishop with a nick name “The Peoples Bishop” who officially met his Christians every Friday at the Cathedral for counselling, Prayers and Confessions, the Diocese of Mamfe had witnessed a spiral and unprecedented transformation in the clergy, Catholic population, Parishes & Deaneries, Quasi-parishes, Education, Health, Communication and infrastructure. His administrative and pro-developmental prowess have left an infrastructural-landmark in the Diocese of Mamfe exceptional in Cameroon.
Described by the Bishop of the Diocese of Essen-Germany, his Lordshop Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck as a “Man of God”, Bishop Lysinge retired from his exalted position after reaching the canonical age for the retirement of bishops speaks of an uncommon humility and true leadership not only in the spiritual world but equally in the secular. A prelate widely believed to be simple with a magnanimous disposition, promoter of justice, champion for the poor and inspiration to many who met him is a man of demonstrable spirituality, strong moral stamina after carrying this great responsibility for 14 years as Bishop and 47 years as a Priest. Bishop Lysinge thinks that he deserves some rest from active pastoral mission.
For a Bishop who has no bank accounts, never bought a pair of shoes or trousers but lived on the good will of Christians state that the Ministry of a Bishop is not measured in terms of achievements or successes but is understood only in the language of faith, hope and love. Steadfast in faith, inspired by hope and motivated by love, Bishop Lysinge employed personal charisma to an evangelising message that transformed Mamfe Diocese bringing mercy to faithful and non-believers. Bishop Lysinge read the signs that after 51 years in the service of the Lord, he is entitled to a well-deserved rest from active episcopalism. This personifies the leader Cameroon, Africa and the world needs.
Congratulations my Lord for winning Cameroon Concord Man Of the Year 2014 Award and now for celebrations marking your golden jubilee. May the good God continue to bless and guide you in all your endeavours as you continue to be a role model for Christians and clergy.