By Ifeoma Ezenyilimba
The Catholic Diocese of Awka, alongside the entire faithful of the Diocese and the Anambra State Government with her citizenry, were on Saturday, October 19, consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) at the 2019 Awka Diocesan Rosary Carnival.
The carnival which was in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM), was held simultaneously at St Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral, Awka, and St Joseph’s Pro-Cathedral Parish, Ekwulobia, Aguata LGA, for the six regions of Awka Catholic Diocese.
Ekwulobia, Achina and Akpu Regions held theirs at St Joseph’s Pro-Cathedral, Ekwulobia; while Awka, Nimo and Adazi Regions held theirs at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Awka.
Leading in the concelebrated Holy Mass to mark the event, the Auxiliary Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev Jonas Benson Okoye, described the rosary carnival as a great spiritual activity which ought to be given special attention by the entire faithful.
In his homily on the theme: ”My Soul Glorifies the Lord, My Spirit Rejoices in God My Saviour”, the bishop urged all to, in the midst of current difficulties and tribulations, embrace BVM, who he said, remained the powerful intercessor throughout the history of salvation of mankind.
Bishop Okoye, who recalled his experience when he visited the apparition site of the BVM in Lourdes, berated those who advertised miracles in Nigeria and other places, saying that the Holy Mother Mary remained the greatest intercessor of mankind.
This was even as he identified conversion as the greatest benefit one gained from visits to such apparition grounds like Lourdes.
He enjoined all to daily, pray through BVM, the great intercessor, and honour her daily, so as to experience that expected conversion.
Bishop Okoye, who further based his reflections on the life of St Basil the Great and St Gregory, the two good friends of Athens, who he said shared common virtues of chastity, obedience and holiness due to their devotion to BVM while as students, urged the youths to attach importance to such devotion.
He exhorted the unmarried persons and the youths against immoral acts, saying that if they emulated the Holy Mother, Mary, in great virtues of chastity, they would not go astray.
Quoting St Augustine, Bishop Okoye described Mary as the mystic ladder by which God came down to humanity, and the ladder through which man climbed up to heaven. He berated those, who according to him, disregarded Holy Mary, the mother of God.
The Auxiliary Bishop, who cited many instances on the position of BVM as a powerful intercessor in the salvation of mankind, noted that it was difficult for one to win the favour of Jesus Christ without first of all winning the favour of the Holy Mother Mary, the mother of Christ.
This was even as he enjoined the laity to, through the intercession of BVM, regularly pray for the priests and religious for the success of their apostolate.
Other highlights of the carnival were rosary procession by various parishes; praying of 10 decades of the rosary; Angelus and Catena by all at the venue; offering of flower to the Holy Mother, Mary and donations in support of the Marian TV Programme.