By Fr. Anthony Adetayo

History was made again as this new decade beginning with the year 2020 experiences its first Marian pilgrimage in the ancient city of Iwopin (Ijebu Waterside). The annual Marian Pilgrimage of the Catholic diocese of Ijebu Ode successfully took place at where worshippers gathered in several thousands from across the diocese, Abeokuta and Lagos Archdiocese. This took place on Friday 7th February 2020 ending in the morning of the following day.

The Bishop of the Diocese, Most Rev. Francis Obafemi Adesina attended the event as a debutant but was full of appreciation to the beauty of the event.

The rosary procession began at the waterside through to the grotto in St. Kizito’s parish, Iwopin. The opening Mass was presided over by Very Rev. Fr. Patrick K. Balogun who welcomed all the congregants to this year’s pilgrimage.

Fr. Samuel Iyagbe (CMF) delivered the homily for the opening Mass. In his homily, he requested that everyone should examine the purpose for our gathering. Some may just be like tourists, or spectators or carnival makers, or even to only come and solidify old friendship or seek new ones. These are not the right motives which is simply “to meet God on the mountain of prayer. Iwopin pilgrimage ground is our mountain of prayer.”

After the Opening Mass, series of spiritual and pastoral activities led by different priests followed each other in solemn succession. There was exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, Marian talk delivered by Fr. Ayanbadejo Peter. Fr. titled Our Lady Comforter of the afflicted “.
Fr. Ayanbadejo made it clear that only someone who has felt sorrow have the experience to sympathize with those in sorrows. Mary as our mother experienced traditionally seven sorrows from which we can boldly say she can comfort us in our distress. She is a true mother who intercedes at every point of our needs. This was followed by the Penitential service led by Fr. Tunde L. Alabi CSSp. Individual Confession took place concomitantly with rosary recitation.

There was also a healing session anchored by Frs. Albert Osunlaja, John Aruleba and Sabinus Orji. There was a moment of heaven-knocking praise and worship by the Diocesan choir who sang the Masses as well. The Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament was done by Fr. Anthony Adetayo. Shortly after then, people who have received instant healing and accumulated healing were given opportunity to render their testimonies to the amazement of all worshippers. They mention the particular role played by the Blessed Virgin Mary and the holy ground of Iwopin.

The closing Mass was presided over by the Bishop himself, who also delivered the homily. He thank God who has given us his blessings in the diocese since last year, the gift of new Bishop, the 50th anniversary of the Diocese, and other personal blessings and sang that such blessing shall be permanent in our lives.

The Bishop expressed his pain due to the nature of the grotto when not in use throughout the year. He said the grotto must be in use year in, year out and our Mother Mary has given him a mandate to renovate the grotto and the instruments of God’s work still remain the good people of God who flock to the grotto to ask for her maternal intercession.

There was a prayer of the consecration of Ijebu Ode diocese to our Mother and immediately followed by the burning of the petition with the prayers rising like incense before everyone to God who hears his faithful on the holy ground.

IWOPIN AGAIN: IJEBU ODE CATHOLIC DIOCESE AND MARIAN PILGRIMAGEThe Bishop appreciated all those who have made themselves available for this project especially the All-purpose committee led By Fr. Simon Mayungbe who directly organized it.

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