Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Prefecture Apostolic of Upper Kassai

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 8
Prefecture Apostolic of Upper Kassai

by Emeri Henry Célestin Cambier


Erected as a simple mission in 1901, and detached, as a prefecture Apostolic, from the Vicariate of Belgian Congo since 20 August, 1901. The residence of the prefect Apostolic is the mission of St. Joseph de Luluabourg situated a few miles to the south of the station of the Belgian colony of Luluabourg, in the district of Lualaba-Kassai, the chief town of which is Lusambo, residence of the district commissioner. The prefecture, at the time of its creation, comprised almost all the Lualaba-Kassai district. It was bounded on the north by the Vicariate of Belgian Congo (district of the Equateur); on the east by the same vicariate (territory of the Katanga Company); on the south by Portuguese Congo; on the west by the Lubue river. In 1908 it was enlarged by taking as its boundaries on the east the left bank of the Lualaba, and on the west the Prefecture of the Kwango, which is in charge of the Jesuit Fathers.

The climate is hot and damp and the ground marshy. Fever is endemic, while the sleeping sickness makes great ravages among the blacks and may be communicated to white men by the tsetse fly. The languages used are those of the Bena Lulua, the Baluba, Bena Kanioka, the Batetela, the Bakuba, the Bakete, and the Balunda. It is impossible to fix even approximately the number of inhabitants, more than half of the prefecture being as yet unexplored. All that can be said is that the population numbers millions of pagans all devoted to a rude fetichism. Man lives there in the primitive state; in certain regions, among others that of the Bakete, the natives, men and women, go entirely naked. Only one religious order of men is engaged in the evangelization of this country, the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Scheut-les-Bruxelles; there is also but a single religious order of women, the Sisters of Charity of Ghent, Belgium.

Since 15 November, 1891, when P re Cambier arrived alone at Luluabourg to commence the evangelization of these regions, eleven residences have been established. They are, in order of their foundation: (1) St-Joseph de Luluabourg; (2) Mérode Salvator (Kala Kafumba); (3) St-Trudon de Lusambo; (4) Hemptinne St-Bénoit; (5) Tielen St-Jacques; (6) Bena Makima St-Victorien; (7) St-Antoine de Lusambo; (8) Lusambo; (9) Udemba; (10) Pangu-hopital; (11) Liège-Sacrés-Coeurs at Katanga. Besides these large residences, tended by at least three priests or two priests and a lay brother, nineteen fermes-chapelles (or Christian villages) have been established in the prefecture. They are named: (1) Louvain-Alma-Mater; (2) Grammont Notre-Dame sur la Montagne; (3) Notre-Dame de Lourdes; (4) Lourdes-Notre-Dame; (5) Ypres; (6) St-Antoine; (7) Flobecq Notre-Dame de la Paix; (8) Tshibata Notre-Dame de Congo; (9) Louvain Adolphe Edmond; (10) Courtrai St-Amand; (11) Kasangai St-Remi; (12) Bakete; (13) Tshifwadi Sacré-Coeur; (14) Tshileta; (15) Kanjiki St-Jean; (16) Hely St-Aignan; (17) Merode Westerloo; (18) Li ge St-Urbain; and (19) Harelbeke St-Charles.

The religious in charge are thirty-three priests and thirteen brothers of the Congregation of Scheut, and twenty Sisters of Charity of Ghent, who live in three residences, St-Joseph, St-Trudon de Lusambo and Hemtinne St-B noit. There are in the prefecture about twenty churches and chapels; over five thousand Catholics and about six thousand catechumens; eleven schools, attended by about eight hundred boys and five hundred girls. Over seven hundred orphans are cared for in orphan asylums.

The Prefect Apostolic of Upper Kassai is Most Rev. Emeri Cambier, born at Flobecq (Belgian Hainault), 2 January, 1865. He was ordained priest 20 November, 1887, arrived in the Congo in 1888, at Luluabourg in 1891, and in 1904 was placed at the head of the newly created prefecture Apostolic. The King of Belgium has lately named him an officer of the Royal Order of the Lion in recognition of his services in South Africa.

BATTANDIER, Annuaire pontificale catholique (Paris, 1910); Missiones catholic (Rome, 1910).

Emeri Cambier.