The Diocese of Maroua-Mokolo, erected in 1973, is located in the far northern section of Cameroon, covering an area of over 14,332 square kilometers and has an estimated population of over two million inhabitants. The Diocese shares a border with Nigeria and Chad and shares a border within the country with the Dioceses of Yagoua and Garoua. It has six pastoral zones with fourty parishes and five parishes in formation organized as districts divided into sectors and living ecclesial communities and one autonomous sector. Priests, deacons, religious brothers and sisters, catechists and community leaders all share in the pastoral animation of the Diocese.
The population is composed of several diverse ethnic and religious groups, including Christian, Muslim and followers of traditional religions. The Christian community finds itself in an area where Islam has significant social impact, although its followers do not make up the majority of the inhabitants. In fact, the people live in peaceful and fraternal harmony, notwithstanding their ethnic and religious differences.
The old cathedral church was built during the period of first evangelization of the region many years ago. Now it has fallen victim to age deterioration and is near collapse. It is also too small for the growing Christian population of the city of Maroua. This was a concern not only for Christians, but also for civic leaders and even members of other religious traditions. Sometimes they would remark, “Muslims have several mosques in the city for their worship while Catholics don’t have a cathedral in the city large and safe enough to accommodate its faithful”. In fact, the more significant liturgical events, such as presbyteral ordinations have to be held outside, under trees and dilapidated tents; sometimes even in the municipal stadium.
It was urgent for the Diocese of Maroua-Mokolo to build a new place of worship, indeed, a new and beautiful Cathedral church worthy of the splendid city of Maroua. The objective was to provide the Diocese with a prayer and worship space that would be able to accommodate several thousands of faithful at a time. In fact, the civic authorities were more than happy to make land available in the very centre of the city for the construction of a new Cathedral, not far from the commune of Maroua three, where we already find various mosques and the central market.
The new structure will display not only Christian symbols but also those manifesting the local culture. The shape of the Cathedral represents a type of African house (Boukarou). The pillars along the transept in front of the sanctuary - altar area - allude to a symbol of Protection. The "stars" covering the ceiling represent the beautiful African night sky and the continent’s geometrical decorations. The framework represents the mantle of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who protects the faithful. Its shape also represents the Blessed Mother embracing the population. The arrangement of the pillars in the middle form the letter (M) for Mary. The four pillars that support the roof have a stellar shape, narrowing as they move upward symbolizing the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. The roof itself is meant to symbolize Mary, the great Star. Its western facade is the main one with the apse pointing to the east where the sun rises, sign of the Resurrection.
Welcome and maternal protection are the main themes of the structure of the new Cathedral and indicate its vocation. On the one hand, it will welcome thousands of people who will gather there on Sundays and for great celebrations, processions of the Feast of Mary or priestly ordinations, regular ecumenical meetings and inter-religious dialogue favourable to living together, unity, peace and universal brotherhood. On the other hand, it will reassure every one of the warm maternal care and protection of the Blessed Mother.
The construction of the Cathedral began in 2014 and moves forward thanks to the generosity of the faithful in the Diocese, despite their meager economic condition. It progresses also thanks to the contribution of people of good will and especially thanks to the collaboration of the Pontifical Mission Society of the Propagation of the Faith, which offers funds from the annual Universal Solidarity Fund collected worldwide on Mission Sunday.
Photos illustrating the progress of the construction.