Posted on: 2014-12-08
Source: Comms Dept, Oyo Diocese

2014 Oke Maria: A Bold Step Ahead.

Theme: Mary, Teacher and Guide of the Family

"The road of improvement is always under construction", this captures succinctly the giant steps already and again being taken by the Catholic diocese of Oyo as it concerns her Marian Pilgrimage Centre, Tede, Atisbo Local Government, Oyo State. Any visitor to the prayer ground will notice not just the physical and infrastructural developments that are in place but much more the faithfuls' growing awareness of the pilgrimage as an opportunity for prayers and time spending with the Lord. This year's diocesan pilgrimage which started off at the parish church building with the Bible Service and come to conclusion with the celebration of the Holy Eucharist on the Marian Hill can be termed a Moment of encounter with the Lord.

Under the theme of Mary, Teacher and Guide of the Family, the Bible Service which marks the opening of the pilgrimage was led by the Vicar General of the diocese, Msgr. Emmanuel Bolaji Yakubu. In his shared reflection during the service, Rev. Fr. John Olayiwola pointed out to the fact that our country Nigeria is sick and needs to look up to the Blessed Virgin Mary as teacher and guide. He enumerated the different scourges befalling the nation as including corruption, killings, unemployment, unstable families amongst others and called on the pilgrims to pray for the restoration of Nigeria back to sanity. Apart from the reflection, prayers were offered for the many needs of the country, the Church and the pilgrims at large and spirit lifting hymns and choruses were rendered by the choir.

After the Bible service and the welcoming speech delivered by the representative of the Onitede of Tede, the pilgrims proceeded on procession up the hill, a journey of about 5km with lighted candles, singing praises and praying as they go. It is worthy of mentioning that while the Bible service was going on in the parish Church, there was concurrently running also a service on the hill for he sick and aged who may not be strong enough to endure the procession.

On arrival on the hill, the bishop of the diocese of Oyo, Most Rev. Emmanuel Ade Badejo welcomed all pilgrims and reminded them of the need to take every advantage of the time spent there to commune with God. This address sets the ball rolling for the various spiritual activities which include Biblical Rosary, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Penitential and Healing Services, Divine Mercy Prayers and Testimonies. All these were animated by inspiring song ministration and also a drama ministration by the youths of the diocese, before the pilgrimage ended with the Eucharistic Celebration.

At the Eucharistic Celebration the homilist, Rev. Fr. Michael 'Wumi Akinsode who himself is the chaplain of the Marian Pilgrimage Centre of Osogbo Diocese (popularly known as Oke Maria, Otan Ayegbaju), focused his reflection on the gospel passage of Lk. 11:27-28.

He began by pointing to the common mistake of many who see this passage as a denial of any physical relevance of the Blessed Virgin Mary from the part of her Son, Jesus Christ. Fr. Akinsode emphasized that this passage rather gives greater credence to the fact of Mary as an object of praise through the instrumentality of Jesus life for the reason that above every and any other person, it is Mary who listened, heard, pondered, kept and lived the word of God (Lk 1:28-33,38; Lk 2:17-19,51; Acts 1:14.

In furtherance, Fr. Michael pointed out that in the entire scriptures, only Mary and Jesus Christ were referred to as being "full of grace" (Lk 1:28, Jn 1:14). Consequently, he called on all faithful gathered, especially parents to take the experience of Jesus in Lk 11:27-28 as a challenge which should prompt them to consider what will be the likely comment of people when they come in contact with their children outside their homes and places. A tree, says Fr. Akinsode, is not judged by its root but by its fruit, as such parents are enjoined to do everything possible to train their children not only based on academic knowledge, but also morally, spiritually and doctrinally following the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Lk 2:48, Prov 22:6, 13:24, 19:18, 1 Tim 4:7-8, Heb 12:7-11).

Mary, according to the homilist is the ideal woman of Proverbs 31:10-31 who though did not say many things, shaped humanity by her actions. Thus, in the passage of Lk 11:27, Jesus is presented as a blessing unto Mary and so also will all children be if they are adequately and integrally trained by their parents as Mary did for the child Jesus. Mary is the teacher that every parent should learn from as regards this training and a guide for every member of our families in her act of obedience, listening to the word of God and keeping it.

The homily was garnished with rich Yoruba proverbs and wise sayings, coupled with different poetical renditions.


In the midst of the spiritual activities, one cannot fail to notice the imposing beautiful image of the newly constructed (yet to be completed) Marian Grotto which in its beauty invites more to prayers. Also worthy of note is the presence of a newly dug borehole which afforded the pilgrims the opportunity of having clean and safe water to drink and use, coupled with two large screens that projected the happenings on the hill to the view of pilgrims who could not make it near the altar due to the large crowd that was present. The number of pilgrims this year was estimated to about 20,000 (44 Priests and about 189 female religious included). These physical improvement, together with the growing spiritual awareness of the pilgrims and the ever increasing number of priests, religious and lay faithful is what makes the Mariam Pilgrimage an event to experience!

Through Mary our Mother, We succeed!