The Pious Union of St. Rita of Cascia in the province of St. Augustine of Nigeria celebrated her national feast and pilgrimage at Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, South East of Nigeria. It was a three days celebration; August 21-23, 2015. The Catholic bishop of the diocese of Abakaliki, Most Rev. Dr. Michael Okoro graciously opened the door to his diocese and happily welcomed us into the not too busy city of Abakaliki, a city known for rice production. St. Patrick’s Parish was chosen as the venue for the celebration.
The cross-like design St. Patrick’s parish was dedicated in the year 1982, a parish full of faith, great and wonderful potentials as can be visibly proven.
We were joyfully welcomed into this parish where we had the inaugural Mass with the Prior Provincial of the Province of St. Augustine of Nigeria, Very Rev. Fr. John Abubakar O.S.A. as the chief celebrant. He was flanked by Rev. Frs. Joel Okojie O.S.A. and John Okoro O.S.A. with other Augustinian and diocesan priests as concelebrants.
Members of the Pious Union are Catholic men and women, young and old who are devotees of St. Rita of Cascia. They came together in Abakaliki from different parts of Nigeria and joyfully participated in all the activities, especially at the Mass.
Their faces, their smiles, the number of participants, the uniform, and the unique form of greeting among the devotees that echoed from every angle of the venue tells the story of the high spirit with which they came to honour St. Rita, a Saint popularly known in Nigeria as Mama Rita.
In his homily, Rev. Fr. John Okoro O.S.A. praised the virtues of St. Rita, he referred to her as the jewel of the Augustinian Order. He encouraged all to learn to invoke the intercessions of St. Rita, the saint of the impossible as she is called by the Church. He prayed that every impossible case in our lives is resolved through the intercessions of Saint Rita, in Jesus’ name.
St. Rita was an Augustinian nun from Roccaporena, very close to Cascia in Italy. She was born to Antonio and Amata in the year 1381. Rita was married to Paolo and was blessed with two Sons, though the cold hands of death snatched husband and Sons from her. Rita decided to dedicate her life to God in the religious life, observing the ancient Rule of St. Augustine till she died in peace on May 22, 1457. She was canonized in the year 1900.
The Augustinians are proud of her, the whole Church is proud of her. So, with grateful hearts, the devotees of St. Rita came together in thanksgiving to God for his mercies and favour upon his daughter, Rita. In honoring Rita and all the Saints in heaven we praise God.
The national pilgrimage came to a close on Sunday morning (23rd August 2015) with a thanksgiving Mass.
Mama Rita! Wonderworker!