TRAVELOGUE-Association of Mary Queen of All Hearts
By Peete Mary Kol
When in September 9th, 2018, our National Director, the amiable Bro. Sylvester Mary Young announced that the next Virgin Mary’s birthday will be hosted in Akwa-Ibom state.
All started looking forward to it. On the 6th of September, 2019, many of our members left for Akwa-Ibom State for this annual event. They left by 10:45am after the blessing from the Diocesan chaplain Rev. Fr. Patrick (Piso) Out-Ibeh. As the team got to Abaomege junction, they moved into Abaomege down to Ugep and down to Calabar.
At this popular junction that leads to Akwa-Ibom state, our vehicle moved into the state. While driving through this road, we started thinking of when the roads of former Eastern Nigeria will be smooth and easy riding.
My brother, the team got to Cardinal Ikanden venue of the convention by 5:35 pm. The team alighted from the vehicle to move into the registration arena where they registered and were issued tags. Soon after, they headed into one of the numerous hostels, there in the apartment named after St. Peter.
There were numerous mattresses and double-decker beds to accommodate the male members while women went to another hostel within the large premises.
By 7pm, the opening Mass began to welcome members. After the Holy Mass, the Bishop of the diocese, His Lordship, most Rev. Dr. John Ebebe Ayah read the welcome address as a prelude to declaring the August event open.
After that opening address,
it was announced that the former vibrant National Chaplain, Rev. Fr. Pilani was around and people welcomed him with great joy. He responded and was happy to see everyone even though he said he was tired after driving down Maiduguri to Akwa Ibom.
The first Friday was observed, led by the National Director Bro. Sylvester Mary Young. From here most people who got to the venue went to eat at the center and or pavilion and went to retire as everybody was so tired after passing the rugged and bumpy road.
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In fact, the Akwa-Ibomites were ready, prepared and were waiting for members. The accommodation was all okay, the taps run 24 hours, for the three nights, there was no power outage.
The following morning being the second day, all woke up with hope and vigour. Since there is water running everybody washed and said the normal morning rosary and office prayers. Soon everybody went for breakfast and into the beautiful arena for general prayer and rosary.
Confessions were being heard until it was 10 am when there was the first talk of the event was given by the Vicar-General of the Diocese, Most Rev. Fr. Jonathan Udoutte. He captioned it: VIRGIN MARY, THE HOPE OF THE HOPELESS.
He started by welcoming all to the arena and thanking God for journey mercy. He also expressed his appreciation for being given the opportunity to give the talk.
At this time of economic depravity in Nigeria when social ills had engulfed the country, everybody is in hopelessness. The future looks bleak. There are lots of killings, kidnapping, and abduction.
He pointed at the abduction of Chibok girls which nobody has an answer to till date. The one at the other place of recent, nobody has any solution to all that. Most of them have been killed, impregnated and their future forestalled. Everybody is looking for a solution.
As if all that was not enough, they started killing priest at Benue State and Enugu State. Though all were painful, the most painful one is the priest who going for the burial of his father, and he was abducted and put in the boot of the car and he died. He did not have the opportunity of getting to his home alive to bury his dead father.
All these we should present to our Lady the Blessed Virgin Mary for the solution. This hope, according to him is not like hoping for what is imminent; for example, we all hope that tomorrow will come, no but for the hope of a very difficult situation. He cited example like the birth of Our Lady herself when the parents were looking for a child for so many years.
And at a point, an angel visited the mother Ann that she would have a child that is above all children. She eventually came as a gift to the world who eventually became the mother of the world.
The Rev.Fr. Sees all that is happening in this country as a blessing in disguise because nothing good ever comes easy. He also talked about great suffering most times precedes good things. He also talked of the story of Elizabeth and Zachariah. They so prayed for a child etc.
But when the Virgin Mary was at the age of 14 or thereabout, the archangel Gabriel came to inform her of the fact that she will bear a son who would be the second Adam and will be called JESUS and that her cousin Elizabeth who was called barren is in her sixth month of pregnancy.
Without wasting time, Mary had to travel on foot to a distance of about 100 kilometers to see Elizabeth and her husband Zachariah.
On getting there and greeting Elizabeth the child in her womb leaped for joy and was immediately sanctified. From there the Magnificat we all say today emanated. My soul glorifies the lord………and of course, Mary’s testimony of that “All generation will call me blessed” Life, the Fr said could be so tough today but it could be a way to strengthen us for a better tomorrow.
But in all things, we must place all our hopes on Jesus and Mary, contending that as the magnificat, the rich was brought low and the poor raised, so we have a dynamic world. Nothing is ever static; the only hope of those who care to take heed is the rosary.
It has helped so many and would still help a lot more who dutifully recite it once daily. It is the only thing that turns things around, and the ugly situation in Nigeria will one day change for the better. If only we would trust Jesus and Mary who is the hope for all hopeless cases.
Rev. Fr. Udoutte ended by praying for all thus: Almighty Lord our God, you have given Mary the honor to help your children by her intercession to you, please answer our collective prayers. We ask through Mary our dear Mother. And the crowd chorused AMEN and a loud one for that matter.
Questions were asked: 1) Somebody wondered that since the Bishops of Nigeria introduced prayer for Nigeria in Distress, that things seem to get worse.
ANS: Most difficult things are prayed for fervently, citing the first concluded Jaochim and Ann prayer for the baby, Elizabeth, and Zacharia, etc.
QUESTION 2: Why are all Mary devotees not invited in the celebration of Mary’s birthday?
ANS. They will refer it to the Bishops conference.
QUESTION 3: Should Mary’s act be put in the internet?ANS. YES!
The next was a holy Mass officiated by the former vibrant Rev. Fr. Pilani from Maiduguri Diocese. The reading was taken from Lk. 6:1-5.
The homily was delivered by another vibrant priest, Rev. Fr. Godwin Orji from Nnewi Diocese. He urged people to try to see positive in most negative things.
He cited an example with Mary who went to present the child Jesus in the temple and Simeon told her that a sword will pierce her heart. What kind of statement is that? If it in Nigeria, the person would reply “back to sender” or “it is not my portion” but Mary being of great grace did not utter a word but kept recording it in her immaculate heart.
He talked another episode of Mary when Jesus disappeared for 3 days. They searched for Him all over the place only to found Him in the temple.
If it were here, one would have asked this boy why did you leave without telling us or some painful scolding, but Mary in her soft and tender heart asked “my son, why did you do this to us” Jesus told her “did you not know that I have to be on my father’s job?” Mary recoded all that in her heart.
He told a story of a man whom three of his children are running mad and the only sane child died. As the man was being consoled, he replied that God was polishing him and people seem not to hear him well and thought he said “punishing” him, but he said emphatically “polishing” him.
He told a story of Daniel which is very popular in the bible. He also talked of Judith in a bible who saved a whole community from the despotic ruler with her beauty, read them in the bible.
He told his own story of how the rosary saved him. He was returning from Port Harcourt when he ran into armed robbers, reciting his rosary, the men of the underworld kept mopping at him and moving around his vehicle after they opened the road-block and ask him to go.
As he got to the other end, he saw soldiers who asked if he saw the robbers, but he told that he saw only some Mopol, even some were not on the uniform. The soldiers told him that they were armed robbers. He told of a boy who was abducted and taken for a ritual killing. The boy was praying the rosary, they took him to an uncompleted building. There, they showed him some places where the boy saw bones and skull.
But he hoped on God and kept reciting his rosary. At a point, they started killing captives and when it was the boy’s turn, he raised his rosary and the man shouted and asked his people to take him away. They now dropped him to the main road.
He talked of a Rev. Sr. who was kidnapped at a town called Ihembosi and was taken to Nsukka bush. They asked her questions and she refused to answer.
At a point, she told them that God will help her. They gave her food but she refused to accept. Then in the wee hours of the night, a boy appeared with food and she ate, soon after the door of the place opened on itself and led her away to a safe place where she got help to the nearest Catholic Church that took her back to her Parish in Onitsha.