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Vicariate Apostolic of Kamerun

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(Cameroons; Cameroon.)

Located in German West Africa, between British Nigeria and French Congo, stretching northeast from the coast of the southern shore of Lake Chad. The territory was created a prefecture Apostolic on 22 July, 1890, and given in charge of the Pious Society of Missions (Pallottini). Father Henry Vieter was nominated the first prefect Apostolic. The area is about 191,130 square miles, and the native population (Bantu negroes near the seacoast, Sudan negroes inland) is, according to Streit, about 4,000,000. There are about 1000 whites, mostly Germans. The chief exports are palm kernels and palm oil, rubber, ivory, and cocoa. The climate is hot and moist, and malarial fever abounds, especially in the lowlands. The natives generally are addicted to fetichism, and there are a few Mohamedans. In 1892 the German Government allowed the missionaries to open a preparatory house of studies at Linsburg (Nassau), and later at Ehrenbreitstein and Vallendar (Rhineland). The first missionary station was opened at Marienberg on the river Sanaga, here nearly 4000 feet broad. Other stations were opened (1891) near Falls of the Sanaga, and at Kribi on the Batanga coast. From the beginning the missionaries suffered much from malaria; in 1894, therefore, they opened the station of Engelberg in the Kamerun Mountains, at an altitude of nearly 1400 feet, both as a sanatorium and a missionary centre. In 1898 was opened the station of Duala (22,000), the capital of Kamerun, where, however, Protestant missionaries had preceded the Catholics (there are between seven and eight thousand native Protestants ). The mission of St. Peter Claver at Big-Batanga was opened in 1900, and in 1901 that of Yannde, twelve days' walk into the interior. Irasa on the upper Rio del Rey was founded in 1906, and in 1907 the station of Einsiedeln was opened in the Kamerun mountains, at an altitude of about 2800 feet. Another station is almost ready at Victoria ; it bears the name of the Blessed Trinity. Einsiedeln serves as a seminary for schoolmasters; it is hoped also that eventually it may graduate priests for the mission. None, however, will receive Holy orders before the age of thirty.

In September, 1906, the first synod was held at Duala. The prefecture was raised to the rank of a vicariate Apostolic (21 Dec., 1904), and the first prefect Apostolic made first vicar Apostolic ; he was consecrated titular Bishop of Parætonium on 22 January, 1905. On the arrival of the missionaries they found 5 Catholics ; in the vicariate there are now 18 priests, 21 brothers, and 30 sisters for the education of natives. Since October, 1890, death has claimed twenty-four of the little band of missionaries, and several have been sent home in time to save their health, which could not resist the severe climate. In the same period there have been about 8027 baptisms. There are at present about 3819 catechumens, each of whom has two years of probation. There are in the mission schools about 5675 boys and girls. All these, however, are not in the schools of the missionary station; many of them are taught in the village schools by black schoolmasters, directed and paid by the missionaries. After leaving the schools, many of the boys are taught useful trades by the lay brothers of the missions.

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