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STAMS at 50: A moment of Joy, Gratitude, Renewal

By Bakah Derick

As the St Thomas Aquinas Major Seminary Bambui (STAMS) prepares to celebrate its golden jubilee on December 1, 2023, it is a time for reflection, gratitude, and celebration. This significant milestone marks 50 years of dedication to the formation of future priests and leaders in the Catholic Church, and it is a time to honor the rich history and legacy of this esteemed institution.
St Thomas Aquinas Major Seminary Bambui 

Growing as a Catholic and contributing fervently to the upkeep of seminarians and the seminary, celebrating the golden jubilee of this institution comes across differently to me. I see the St Thomas Aquinas Major Seminary Bambui as  a cornerstone of religious education and spiritual development in the Ecclesiastical Province of Bamenda which provides a nurturing and supportive environment for students to grow in their faith and knowledge. Over the past five decades, the seminary has played a vital role in shaping the lives of countless individuals who have gone on to serve their communities and the Church with passion and commitment. This includes those who were not able complete their journey to Priesthood for one reason or another. 
Archbishop of Bamenda, His Grace Andrew Nkea 

This golden jubilee celebration is certainly a testament to the enduring impact of the seminary and its enduring commitment to excellence in education, spirituality, and service. The Pontifical High Mass to be celebrated by the Metropolitan Archbishop of Bamenda, His Excellency Andrew Nkea Fuanya, will be a momentous occasion, bringing together alumni, current students, faculty, and members of the community to honor the seminary's legacy and look towards a bright future.

In a recent conversation with Fr John Bintum, one of twelve candidates admitted to the institution at inception, he paid glowing tribute to the founding fathers including the Late Fr Paul Verdzekov, Archbishop Bamenda. According to Fr John, Fr Paul had a blue print of the seminary and can today express satisfaction with what STAMS has become. 
Fr John Bintum (in black) and Bakah Derick

The golden jubilee celebration will therefore not only be a time to look back on the achievements and milestones of the seminary but also an opportunity to express gratitude to all those who have contributed to its success. From the founding fathers, dedicated faculty and staff to the generous supporters and benefactors including the lay faithful, the seminary has been blessed with a strong network of individuals who have helped shape its growth and impact over the years.
When I participated in the 35th Anniversary celebration of Priesthood of Rev Fr Waindim Ignatius, Former Rector of the Major Seminary Bambui, and saw the number of priests who answered present, it was clear to me that STAMS is a bigger community than one would imagine. 

In addition to the Pontifical Mass, the golden jubilee celebration may include a series of events and activities that will showcase the seminary's rich history and vibrant spirit. From cultural performances to academic symposiums, there will certainly be something for everyone to enjoy as we come together to celebrate this lifetime occasion.

The peak event of the golden jubilee follows several other celebrations, including one I attended  organized in November by the Fon and people of Bambui, the host village of the Roman Catholic Seminary. These events have served as a testament to the deep-rooted connection between the seminary and the local community, highlighting the mutual respect and support that have been integral to its success. Listening to HRH Fon Angafor Mombo-oh III speak during the event with so much passion, recounting the sacrifices made by his late father HRH Amugwafo to ensure the effectiveness of STAMS, it is safe to say that the institution is in good hands. 
Fon of Bambui, HRM Angafor Mombo-oh III 

In celebrating this milestone, we also look towards the future with hope and anticipation. The seminary's continued dedication to nurturing future leaders in the Church will ensure that its impact will be felt for generations to come. As we honor its past achievements, we also affirm our commitment to supporting its mission and ensuring that it continues to thrive in the years ahead.
The golden jubilee celebration of the St Thomas Aquinas Major Seminary Bambui is a time for joy, gratitude, and renewal. It is an opportunity for all those who have been touched by its presence to come together and celebrate the enduring legacy of this esteemed institution. As we prepare for this momentous occasion, let us join hands in honoring the seminary's past, celebrating its present, and embracing its future with hope and enthusiasm.

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