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February 21, 2017

Year of Mercy: Our Lady visits IHM Owerri …Amid jubilation

As part of the activities to conclude the year of mercy, the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title, “Mother of Mercy”, arrived the Owerri community of the congregation of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM), on September 29, amidst jubilation.
The pilgrim statue on arrival at the Regional House of the congregation, works layout Regional was received by the zonal superior, Mother Joan Iwenofu and others after which the statue moved to the Imo State University Junction , Okigwe Road from where a Rosary Procession accompanied the statue to the regional house for Holy Mass celebrated by Rev. Fr. Innocent Maduakolam Osuagwu assisted by other priests.
In his homily, Rev. Fr. George Nwachukwu traced the origin of International Pilgrim Virgin Statue to 1946 – At that time, after the youth of Portugal attended a congress in Fatima, they took the statue for display in the Cova on pilgrimage to Libson. As they walked the route they stopped at various towns and people gathered to pray. In Libson when they entered the Cathedral, the miracle of doves occurred and many other phenomena, thus inspiring greater devotion.
Fr. Nwachukwu, who is the Director of Social Communications Owerri Archdiocese, said since the Virgin Pilgrim Statue started, miracles, favours and signs have continued to be recorded.
For example, in Nigeria, Fr. Nwachukwu recalled how our Mother Mary manifested herself to the Catholic Bishop of Maiduguri, Most Rev. Oliver Dashe Doeme, in 2015. As the Bishop was praying the Rosary in his chapel, our Lord Jesus Christ appeared to him and gave him a sword with which to fight Boko Haram. “As soon as the bishop received the sword, it turned into a Rosary, indicating that the Boko Haram will be defeated with the Rosary …
Making reference to the visit of the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary to the IHM community Owerri, Fr. George likened it to the visit of our traditional mothers to their children living in various places. During such visits, mothers would see for themselves how their children are living – whether they are living in peace, how clean their house is, etc. Similarly, the visit of Our Blessed Lady to the South Regional House Owerri would enable her to see how the Sisters live in the community.
“Now that our Mother Mary has visited you, will she see envy, bickering, quarrels and confusion or will she see peace, reconciliation and harmony?” the priest asked.
Fr. Nwachukwu commended the Immaculate Heart of Mary congregation, for integrating the pilgrim Virgin’s visit into their programme for the Jubilee year celebration.
The Superior Madonna (South Region) Mother Joan Iwenofu said their congregation,s programme for the year of mercy was designed to take place in four levels – individual, community, regional and congregational levels.
The individual level which had already taken place involved self-forgiveness and healing during which Sisters were encouraged to go out and reconcile with others who offended them.
At the community level, the topic discussed was “Merciful like the Father” while the Regional level which took place on September 29, involved Our Lady’s visit, during which the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary visited our region under the title of “Mother of mercy”. She will also visit other regions.
The mission of Our Lady during the Regional visit is – “My children, be reconciled to one another, live in peace, love and unity”, Mother Joan said.
The programme will be rounded off at the congregational level on a date to be announced later.

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