BY TIMOTHY AGBOR
For Catholics in the Catholic Diocese of Osogbo, every year, in the month of February, there is a spiritual gathering of members of the Church and others from other denominations and even in other religions at Oke Maria Prayer Mountain, located at Otan Ayegbaju, in Boluwaduro Local Government Area of Osun State. The Marian Pilgrimage Centre, popularly known as Oke-Maria is for prayers and evangelisation. This Holy Mountain is a spiritually fortified haven where supplications are offered to God and prayers are answered.
Tomorrow, Saturday, February 10, 2024, as from 10:00am, Pilgrims will kick-start their journeys to Otan-Ayegbaju. They will be there praying till the morning of Sunday, February 11, 2024.
Oke Maria Prayer Mountain is a place that belongs to the Catholic Diocese of Osogbo and dedicated in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
This praying centre is to the ancient town of Otan-Ayegbaju what Jerusalem and Mecca are to their respective adherents, therefore, it is not a social get-together but a place for prayer and deepening in the world of God. The centre welcomes thousands of pilgrims twice in a year and at different times of the year. foreigners, locals, the rich, the poor and the destitute. At Oke-Maria, everyone is equal.
The activities for the Pilgrimage start with candle light procession St. Nicholas Catholic Church field to the Marian shrine where the pilgrims keep vigil. This spiritual, prayer and thanksgiving filled procession is one of the vital parts of the pilgrimage of which every Pilgrim is expected to participate. If you are not old or with any health issues, you should take part in the procession and reverence God in your singing and dancing as the multitude that usually grace the event march on to the Sacred Mountain.
At the Mountain which is usually at night, various spiritual activities like adoration of Blessed Sacrament, recitation of the Holy Rosary, anointing, teaching, penitential service and sacramental confession are held. Traditionally, the pilgrimage is concluded with the celebration of the Holy Mass.
Oke-Maria is always well planned and that is why the activities over the years have recorded huge success. The shrine is very secured by God. Also, anytime the programme is coming up, the Department of State Services, Nigeria Police Force, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, and Federal Road Safety Commission are informed.
Year in, year out, activities on the mountain have affect the economy of Otan Ayegbaju, and Osun State at large positively. The multitude that besiege the Mountain for solutions to their problems boost the economy of the state as traders, transporters and other legal business owners seize the opportunity to make huge sales from Pilgrims.
Pilgrims are urged to be punctual and desist from traveling at night. They are urged to conduct routine checks on their vehicles to and fro the Mountain. Drivers and other Pilgrims are urged to sleep very well before journeying for the spiritual so as to be active at the vigil.
Due to the harmattan season, there tends to be cold during the vigil. Therefore, Pilgrims are advised to come with their cardigans and other clothes they could cover their bodies with of the need arises. Catholics are encouraged to go for confession before coming for the Pilgrimage. Everyone is charged to maintain utmost decorum at the Mountain, not forgetting that they are before God. Coke along with your Holy Bible, your Holy Rosary and Hymn Book among other necessities. Join the Social Communication Facebook Page of the Catholic Diocese of Osogbo for the live coverage of the Pilgrimage.
I pray God to grant all Pilgrims journey mercy and may the blessings of the Pilgrimage never elude anyone. Amen.