The 10th day of December 2022 the different Parishes in Uromi Diocese trooped to the Marian Shrine in Emu for their annual Pilgrimage. It was a thing of great joy as Priests, Religious, Consecrated Persons, Lay Faithful, and other non- Catholics came in great number. The spiritual exercise kick-started at 7:00 am with the arrival and booking of Mass, followed by the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, Confession, and Rosary recitation at 8:00 am while the Holy Mass commenced at 11:00 am. Before the penitential part of the Mass the Most Rev. Dr. Donatus Ogun, the Catholic Bishop of Uromi Diocese welcomed all members of Christ’s faithful present and prayed that our personal and collective heart desires will be granted by Christ Our Lord and he prayed that our Blessed Virgin Mother Mary we intercede for us.
The homilist, Rev. Fr. Augustine Okosun, the Parish Priest of St. Anthony Catholic Church, Ewatto themed his homily ‘the fiat of Mary’, a text that was crafted from Luke 1:38. He noted that it was because Mother Mary said ‘yes’ to the will and plan of God that we all are rejoicing for a new life of Grace. In the Immaculate Conception of Mary, the homilist made all to understand that Mary was preserved from the stain of original sin through the Grace of God and in view of the merit of her Son. It was because of the role that Mary will play in salvation history that made God prepared her to come from the kinsfolk of Joachim and Anna uncontaminated. Besides, he said that part of our gathering here today is to receive the strength to practice our Christian faith that has been bedeviled by insecurities, insufficiencies, unfaithfulness to our baptismal commitment, and disobedience to constituted authorities. He remarked that in today’s reading, we have two generations of women; two women who were sent on a mission, namely Eve and Mary. While Eve did not fulfill the promises of God, the mission of Mary and her acclamation “I am the handmaid of the Lord” changed the narratives because with God all things are possible. The assertion of Mary and her humility is quite related to when Christ prayed in the garden of Gennesaret “let your will be done and not my will”. As Christians, we were encouraged to always seek the will of God in all things but sometimes when we are weak to seek the will of God we need to ask for assistance so that we only do what God wants in our different aspirations of life.
He remarked that as we approach Christmas we should let the love of God fill our hearts to respond to the needs of people. He beckoned on everyone that as the election approaches we should get our permanent voter’s card and vote in good conscience without allowing petty cash and the craving for material possessions to move us away from the path that is right and just. He concluded by asking for the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary on all her Children, that through her we may gain restoration and transformation in our lives.
By way of a vote of thanks, Very Rev. Fr. Francis Omonlumen the Vicar General of the Diocese of Uromi appreciated all liturgical functionaries and thanked the priest in-charge of the Marian Centre. And on behalf of all present, the Vicar General thanked the bishop for the good work he constantly does in the diocese and ask God to grant him more wisdom and grace to carry out the work He has entrusted to his care, and on behalf of the bishop, he also thanked everybody present and prayed that God’s protection and the maternal intercession of Mary will perpetually remain with us.
Commenting on the essence of pilgrimage and the place of pilgrims in it, his Lordship, The Most Rev. Dr. Donatus A. Ogun remarked that whenever we come for pilgrimage there should be calmness and serenity in the environment, and to this effect, He encouraged all to possess a mind and heart of prayer and avoid occasions of distraction each time we arrive at the dual pilgrimage centers in the Diocese. Besides, his Lordship said that everyone should vote in good conscience and nobody should eat up the future by today’s craving for things.
Before the closure of the Holy Mass, his Lordship gave the plenary indulgence to all present and those who have not gone for confession were encouraged to do so within the space of a week to be beneficiary of the indulgence. The Mass ended at about 2:50 pm.