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Oct 20, 2017


The President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos has stressed the importance of spiritual healing, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, for the Nigerian nation to get out of her present challenges which are detrimental to peace and the development of the country.
Archbishop Kaigama made this remark in his address after the Re-consecration Prayer of Nigeria to the Immaculate Heart of Mary; at the recently concluded three-day National Prayer Pilgrimage session to mark the end of the country’s third National Marian Congress. Nigeria was first consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary at the country’s first Marian Congress, held in Lagos in 1954. The ceremony also marked the culmination of the country’s celebration of the Jubilee Year to mark the Centenary of the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to the three shepherd children at Fatima, Portugal, declared by the Holy Father Pope Francis, from November 27th to November 26th 2017.   
The ceremony was attended by about 54 members of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria including John Cardinal Onaiyekan of Abuja and Anthony Cardinal Okogie, the emeritus Archbishop of Lagos Archdiocese and Archbishop Patrick Eboseli Ekpu, emeritus Archbishop of Benin City. Also in attendance were: the Charge de Affairs at the Apostolic Nunciature,  Msgr Javier D Fernandes G, who represented the Apostolic Nuncio to Nigeria, Archbishop Antonio Guido Filippazi; the Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki , his deputy, Mr. Philip Shuaibu, and their wives as well as other government functionaries; about 800 priests, over 1,000 Rev Sisters and about forty thousand lay faithful from all the Archdioceses and dioceses in the country.
The CBCN President expressed optimism that the plea to God through the Blessed Virgin Mary to spare the Nigerian nations from the claws of her present political, religious, ethnic and socio-economic challenges, will be answered  because; “We are convinced that anything our Blessed Mother asks of Jesus for us will be positively granted to her. He added: We are therefore propelled by faith and animated the love of Mary to boldly ask God to heal Nigeria”.
Archbishop Kaigama urged that Nigeria should be entrusted to Mary, Mother of God, so that peace may flow like a river in all the nooks and crannies of the country. He added: “This national gathering should be a providential moment of soul searching and intercession for Divine Mercy; a continuation what some of us shared in Fatima, Portugal in May, with the Holy Father, Pope Francis presiding.”
The Local Ordinary of Jos Archdiocese however warned against unnecessary exaggerations in the faithful’ practice of popular piety, “so as not to allow it to degenerate into fanaticism”. He said: “Our veneration of and devotion to Mary must be in consonance with authentic Catholic tradition , whereby faith and reason are applied.” Noting that some of the practices of the Catholic Church are presently being used by other denominations, though in a distorted manner and in non-Catholic ways; the CBCN President prayed that; “copying the Catholic practices is a sign of their coming back home, and not an attempt to ridicule, distract or confuse some Catholics”.
Archbishop Kaigama while thanking the country’s faithful for turning out in large numbers from all over the country to attend the prayer vigil ceremony, in spite of the effects of the economic recession, network of bad roads and other socio-economic challenges facing the country; stated that “coming together in such numbers to celebrate our Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary is a testimony that the Marian Year has borne positive fruits in parishes across the country.”
The CBCN President expressed gratitude to the host Archbishop and vice President of the Bishops Conference, Most Rev. Augustine Akubeze, members of the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) and the entire faithful of Benin Archdiocese for the organization of the befitting national celebration. He also commended Archbishop Valerian Okeke, CBCN Episcopal Chairman for the Pastoral Affairs Department of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN) and the national office team for effective collaboration and coordination of all involved in the planning of the programme.

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