The Oke Maria Pilgrimage and Retreat Center, Tede again received pilgrims – Catholics and Non-Catholics alike in their thousands on Friday 6th and Saturday 8th December, 2019 as the Catholic Diocese of Oyo celebrated the 21st Oke Maria Pilgrimage with the theme “We Fly To Your Protection”.
In the Bible Service which began the program on Friday 6th at St Mary Magdalene Catholic Church, Tede, the preacher – Rev Fr Samson Ojo made known the importance of flying to the protection of Mary to intercede for us and offer our prayers to her son. The King of Tede, Oba Abdulrauf Adebimpe accompanied by his chiefswelcomed all andthankedthe Bishop, Most Rev Emmanuel Badejo and the Catholic Diocese of Oyo as he wished them a successful pilgrimage. The Bishop also welcomed all the pilgrims and urged them to take every opportunity to participate actively in the pilgrimage and fly to the protection of our mother Mary. He also thanked the King for his support and kindness to the Church and presented him the gift of the Catholic Daily Prayer Book.
With candles lighted to signify themselves as lights of the world, the pilgrims in their number had a procession dancing with joy and happiness from the Church through the town to the Marian Hill with a stopover to pray for the Town and its inhabitants. On arrival at the Pilgrimage Center, prayers were said at the Marian Grotto and the Children of the Holy Childhood crowned and beautified the Marian Statue with garlands and flowers.
The Pastoral Plan for the Diocese for the next 10 years was publicly presented and announced before the program continued with Doctrinal Teachings on some of the commandments, Praise and Worship Sessions, Praying of the Rosary, Reconciliation and Healing Services, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Stations of the Cross, Testimony Time and many others before finally ending with the Holy Mass.
The Bishop of Oyo Diocese, Most Rev Emmanuel Badejo in his homily stressed how important it is for us to fly to the protection of Mary “because she was conceived without original sin, she is well above any other woman. She should be and that’s what the angel and Elizabeth confirmed ‘blessed are you among women’. Mary herself confirmed it ‘from henceforth, all ages shall call me blessed’. These are things that we have memorized and we should make strength out of in case we have criticism. Anybody who can bear the Son of God without any sin has enough power to protect us. And secondly, she is the only one in the Bible that we hear the angel from heaven say, ‘the Holy Spirit shall overshadow you’ nobody else has that possibility, not St Paul, not any other apostle. That the holy spirit will completely overshadow you, that is immense power”. He continued that with the problems battling us in Nigeria today we ought to fly to Mary who is mighty to deliver through the grace given to her by God who choose her to be a fitting protective home for His child.
He said ”She qualified to look after the son of God so she is well qualified to look after any one of us. And the story is long – how about when Herod was seeking to kill the Child, she protected him. How about when the World said Jesus was mad because of His activities, Mary was there and then of course at the foot of the cross when all the disciples had fled. Even the tradition of the Church tells us that he was put into her arms even after he died. All the sorrows and trials of this World did not make her shake. That is a big example for us too. When your sorrows and trials come, you have Mary as your example. That is a big reason why we fly to her patronage”. He urged all not to only fly to Mary’s protection in order to have a better job, good husband, more money, deliverance from a disease but that they should also fly to her in order to be save from addictions to alcohol, disobedience, sex, stubbornness as she who is overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit can help them because she helped the son of God as even after his death, she did not abandon the Church he left behind of which we are a part thereby qualifying us to be able to fly to her protection.
He concluded that since Mary is now so honored and strengthened because of Jesus and we all know the importance of the bonds between a Mother and her Child and as this was possible because Mary was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit that gave immense powers, he urged them to pray for the holy spirit and for the gift and grace of holiness as we are all called to be as holy as our heavenly father because it was Mary’s holiness that made God pick her to give birth to his son. He implored them to pray for leaders, teachers, government workers, business men, hand workers that they may be filled with holiness as that would make our country better as all evil deeds will be reduced and to continue to pray for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
– Festus Oyelakin