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The Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mother of Christ organized a Marian programme “MARIALIS” at Madonna Renewal Center, Nkpor from 9th to 11th May, 2014.

 “Marialis” is a conscious effort by the Institute to learn and share more about Mary, the Mother of God and to promote and encourage true devotion to her.  Sr. Mary Christina Obinwa, IHM, one of the organizers of the programme, said that it is one of the fruits of the Institute’s Diamond Jubilee celebration in 2012. She said: “It is a way to live out our Founder’s desires that we have intense devotion to Mary; to replicate Mary in our lives.”

 Msgr. Hypolite Adigwe of Nnewi diocese gave the first presentation titled To Jesus through Mary.  He started by making it clear that to talk about Mary, her role in our faith and the honour we give to Mary, there is need to clear the ground.   “There is only one God, there are three persons in one God; Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.  God is uncreated.  He is the Creator of all that exists.  Therefore, the Blessed Virgin Mary is God’s creature.  Any other creation by anyone makes that person a Co-creator.”

Any devotion we have will be wrong if it does not go back to Jesus – Jesus is the Alpha and Omega.  “Our strength comes by moving to Jesus through Mary.  Mary leads us to Jesus the Lord of Lords.  Mary is our way to Christ.  If God comes to us through Mary, what’s wrong with us going to God through Mary?”

After a tea break, the IHM Novices presented a welcome song followed by an admonition by Sr. Mary Florentina Onuora.  She dwelt on the importance of decent dressing befitting the children of Mary.  Decent dressing also maintains one’s dignity and minimizes the danger of attracting undue attention to oneself.

Following the recent trend in the Church – celebration of the sainthood of Pope John Paul 11 and Pope John XX111 - the organizers showed a film on the life of Saint Pope John Paul 11 titled “The Man who became Pope and remained human”.  There was an emphasis on the injunction of the Pope to the Youth  at the beginning of his papacy – “Do not be afraid, the Church needs you.” 

Providentially, Fr. Vincent Michael of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate from Ogun State celebrated the Holy Mass for the group.  He encouraged the participants to always pray the Rosary which is a very efficacious prayer.

The Vicar General, Sr. Mary Agnita Maduka and Sr. Maria Philipeen Osei-Wusu (Councilor) were in attendance.  Students of primary, secondary, tertiary institutions, undergraduates, families and individuals were present.  Sr. Eucharia Mary Ezeiruoma, IHM, one of the organizers said she was impressed with the number of IHM Sisters that attended.

Sr. Mary Doreen Okolie, IHM, presented the second paper titled Mary, Help of the Helpless.”   Although Mary is known as the model of the humble, quiet and meek, she is also the help of the helpless amidst all other virtues.  She noted that the intercessory nature of Mary is seen in the earliest prayer of the Church to Mary – Under your protection we take refuge Mary …  She went further to explain that Mary’s “yes” to God and Jesus’ “yes” to God met at the foot of the Cross where Mary ‘s presence supported the agonizing Jesus.  Likewise, she supports us in all our helpless situations.

Both speakers entertained many questions and they gave satisfactory answers. Odogwu Afoma Mary, a student from School of Nursing Ihiala said: “I was opportuned to clear some of the doubts posed by the Protestants that the Catholics worship Mary.”   Kenneth Madueke, a primary six pupil coming for the first time said he had learnt that he should pray the rosary every day.

Also, Chidera Raymond, a JSS 2 student from Girls’ Secondary School Agulu said she had learnt for the first time the meaning of “dogma” and the dogmas on the Blessed Virgin Mary – Mother of God, her Immaculate Conception, her Assumption into heaven, and her Perpetual Virginity. 

A  Rosary carnival followed with different hymns and songs in honour of Mary.  Schools presented different songs, short dramas and poems.  Kingsley Ezewudo, the leader of Block Rosary Crusade of Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity humorously animated this part.  Each participant danced before Mary’s statue and picked a gift.  Rosary procession followed after supper, then Adoration and Benediction.  There was a Mass by Fr Gerard Efobi of Tansi Major Seminary at 1pm.  All the participants were happy to have attended and departed after breakfast the next day.  Next programme will be in October.


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