Maracha – The suspected Virgin Mary’s apparition in Maracha district has drifted custodians of the law, the clergy and the faithful, into a dilemma.
As the District Police Commander, ASP. Hiwumbire Hassan rules it NO GOING ZONE to Ms. Philister’s home, the Catholic priests couldn’t easily make their minds, the ever flocking faithfuls are adamant and the District LC boss sits on the fence.
Despite heavy deployment of security officials and stringent warnings issued to the curious and the faithful, not to step to Minako village, where the suspected apparition of Virgin Mary allegedly appears to many, the number of people going there has never reduced, only the time and tactics have changed.
RedPepper Digital has tracked thousands trekking at night, from 1:00 Am to 7:30 Am to view the suspected apparition.
Contrary to following the defined routes, the enthusiasts sneak through the bushes from a range of three kilometers away to reach the scene, silently and under cover, to conceal their presence to the officials.
The movement of the faithful is also guided by a surveillance team that keeps watch of the security and garden owners who are bitter at destruction of their crops.
At dawn, at the time security officers on night duty fall dizzy, damp and limp, under the mongo tree, the faithful, secretly sneak to the open under an Ovacado tree where the suspected apparition is believed to be hanging, to recite a rosary.
Recitation of the Rosary is a popular Catholic Prayers said repeatedly by use of beads numbered over fifty in a chain.
Any attempt by whoever, to interrupt the faithful from the rosary will only receive defiance till they are done and leave the venue in peace while the late comers keep racing around with the security up to their satisfaction.
Police and military personnel on the ground as well as garden owners, seem to have fed up with the rat and cat chase kind of the game since those flocking the scene are not bothered of whatever they encountered on their way.
POLICE ISSUES STRINGENT WARNING.
Maracha District Police Commander, (DPC), ASP Hiwumbire Hassan has issued a tough warning that whoever attempts to step Ms. Lekuru Philister’s compound will be arrested and arraigned for prosecution in courts of law.
Citing presidential directives for prevention of the spread of COVID-19 pandemic, the DPC rules defiance as an offence.
“Most importantly, don’t go there. During this COVID-19 pandemic, don’t move from home that you are going to see mother Mary. All that has been banned by presidential directives and we are enforcing the directives. Whoever defies, whoever doesn’t comply and goes there, we shall arrest the person and arraign you before courts of law” ASP Hiwumbire sounds.
The chief law enforcement officer in Maracha district, the district LC 5 boss and two Catholic priests had called a press conference to air their stands over large crowd flocking to see the suspected apparition.
But none had a voice strong enough to scare the faith out of the believers, even the DPC echoed a warning with clemency.
“We don’t refuse the faithful to go and view the suspected apparition but because of this COVID-19 pandemic, we must stop such gathering” the DPC stresses.
Under normal circumstances, a rat would escape with a scratch from a cat but the contrary happened three days ago where two security officers survived with bruises, being lynched by those entertaining themselves at the scene of the Holy occurrence as the DPC reveals to the media.
“People are defiant, in a scuffle of dispersing the crowd, some of them stoned two security officers; one police officer and the other Uganda Peoples Defense Force (UPDF) personnel. I condemn this in the most strongest terms” ASP Hiwumbire warns.
He says the security wasn’t against the people and faith but protecting them from contracting COVID-19 infections.
ASP Hiwumbire also cites the plight of farmers in the area over their crops being destroyed by the crowd in the gardens. He adds lack of sanitary facilities such as toilets and hand washing facilities as reasons for outlawing gatherings in Minako village, saying this would endanger lives of the people.
“We have increased deployment, night and day to deter the population from accessing the place of the suspected apparition. We have blocked all routes to Lekuru’s home, we had arrested many people in the last two days but after reaching a resolution with political and religious leaders, these people were released” DPC reveals offering an amnesty to some of those earlier apprehended but warns it won’t happen next time.
“However, those who will be arrested after this, will be arraigned before courts of law for prosecution. Some of them have already been imprisoned for defying the presidential directives” he threatens.
The DPC cautions the people against defiance, saying they should comply with the presidential directives to stay at home and pray at home.
Maracha district boss, Adiga Lawrence Ozubia laments over the crowd flocking to Lekuru’s home of recent.
“The last one and half weeks has witnessed an overwhelming mammoth thronging of people to Minako village, Ombia Parish in Yivu Sub county of Maracha district. This flocking of a big population, though with good intents and faith of seeing a suspected apparition of Mother Mary, has come with lots of demerits to the public itself, the locals and the government” Ozubia notes
He states that Maracha district COVID-19 pandemic taskforce debated on the matter and resolved to halt trekking of people to Lekuru’s home.
“The district executive also came up with the same conclusion that movement to Ms. Philister Lekuru’s home and crowd gathering there, MUST STOP” he rules.
Visibly in dilemma, Fr. Alfred Ochimati, the Dean of Maracha Catholic Deanery, was to given a hard role to offer religious view on the purported apparition and deduce measures to halt the crowd due to COVID-19 pandemic.
A role that appears like the man of God was given a sword to pierce the supernatural Virgin Mary.
“We have received of late, claims of Mary’s apparition. Various kinds of apparitions of supernatural beings do occur.
According to Catholic Church history, it conveys God’s message but this one brings conflict of interest” Fr. Ochimati summaries the role placed before him to perform.
“Conflict of interest” the man of God repeats in bewilderment.
“The apparition is a Good thing for the Church, which at this time, Christians are supposed to be protected against COVID-19 pandemic. Though this apparitions are not yet verified, we regard them claims, yet to be clarified by the Church authorities” the Dean stresses, keeping in mind the verification follows series of monitoring which required close supervision by a number of the faithfuls.
Caught in between the law, public health threats of the COVID-19 pandemic and faith, Fr. Ochimati couldn’t find the best step to tread.
“What we are experiencing right now, is a conflict of interest. We are in a period COVID-19 pandemic, where our people have to be protected against this pandemic and this is what the government is advocating for and its good thing as a Church, we have taken into consideration and pledged our support because the Church in there because of the people. The people form the Church. The Church is not the buildings and so it’s important to protect the Christians and the masses against infections of COVID-19 pandemic” the priest expresses.
The conflict I’m talking about if from the faith point of view. The importance of such an apparition is to strengthen and edify the Christians in their faith, he says.
Adding that neing a good thing in Christian faith, but the timing in which Mary has appeared, I’d a little bit a difficult one.
Still perturbed, the Dean wonders the motive of the apparition at a tricky period when there works treads a pandemic.
“We may ask why Mary has appeared during this difficult time of COVID-19 pandemic? Imagining in many of our minds. As we said, in many of our apparitions that have taken place in the history of the Church on earth, Mary or other heavenly beings have appeared to communicate or give a message and therefore, from the claims if philister Lekuru, the revelation she received from Mary is that faith is vanishing on earth and people are not praying enough and so, this is a basic tenet in the Catholic faith and this is what we are yet to realise, we are yet to verify.
He call for calm and obedience to authorities as life is Paramount to the Church.
‘Because of these revelations may not be confirmed in a matter if days, this being a good thing in itself, we are happy that Mary, a supernatural being has come to visit us, to pass to us the goodness, to pass to us the mercy of God it to call us in order in many ways but at this point where we are fighting COVID-19 pandemic, we are experiencing a conflict in this issue and so therefore, as much as the Church would take advantage of this apparition to edify the Christian faithful, also the Church must take into consideration, to look into the welfare if the Christian faithfuls in this period of COVID-19 pandemic” Fr. Ochimati consoles.
Considering merits and demerits, the man of God suggests that Christians conduct prays at home, to be safe from COVID-19 infection.
“As big numbers of people are turning up to see what is happening in this apparition and they are causing lots of destruction to crops and considering that when people are gathered in a large numbers, they will need food and other things, we foresee many undesirable things to happen. We are therefore, appealing to the Christians, they should pray and pay homage to Virgin Mary in their homes” Fr. Ochimati advises.
CONFIDENTIAL DOSSER ON SUSPECTED VIRGIN MARY’S APPARITION.
Red Pepper digital has since landed on a confidential dosser, authored by the parochial Vicar of Nyadri town Parish, Fr. Moses Apangu, to his superiors in the Catholic Church hierarchy on the suspected apparition.
The letter which is already endorsed by the dean of Maracha Catholic Deanery, Fr. Alfred Ochimati, gives analytical details of the event at Ms. Philister Lekuru’s home from day one.
“The alleged apparition is taking place in St. Elizabeth Small Christian Community of Minako Village in Omba Chapel of Nyadri Town Parish, in Yivu Sub County, Maracha District of West Nile region in Uganda” the dosser titled “narrative account of the alleged apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary” reads in part.
“This is taking place in the family of a widow by the names of LEKURU FELISTER, who is a members of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal movement. From this family setting, the blessed Virgin Mary is claimed to have appeared first to some children in the morning hours of Sunday, the 3rd May 2020 in an Ovacado tree, right in the compound” the narrative continues.
“Felister Lekuru, the widow in the family narrated to me that, before this very Sunday morning of the apparition, at 1-2 am, as she tried to wake up for Rosary prayers, she usually does, she felt something unusual with her. From this hour, she started getting messages purportedly from the Blessed Virgin Mary, commanding her to prepare herself for a task. Virgin Mary told her to go on with the Rosary prayers she had prepared for and that ” faith in God is vanishing and that people are not praying enough” Fr. Apangu notes in his confidential missive.
“After the recitation of the Rosary, Lekuru said she felt not so normal, as if she was sick. She then remained indoors. Until 9th May, she remained indoors and has not, herself seen the apparition the masses are pouring in for” the parish priest writes to his superiors.
The allegation of seeing Virgin Mary in the Ovacado tree by mostly children continues spreading in the villages. It is also alleged that all children who came around would just at once sight the Virgin Mary in the tree.
“The number of people coming to see the apparition has kept growing day by day. This began to attract the attention of the local authorities from Wednesday, 6th of May” the parish priest narrates.
“It was told that on Sunday, 9th May, from 6:00Am, a very big crowd of over 2000 people was in this place. Day by day, large number of people are flocking there, despite the big presence of the armed forces, trying to keep them off. This, I personally witnessed as I was on ground” the dosser reveals.
Inscriptions about testimonies couldn’t escape being inclusive the dosser, as this is the utmost interest of the Church to either nullify or confirm allegations of such nature in the Catholic Church.
Top on the list were mentions of the security operatives who keep a guard of the area 24/7 since the occurrence came into existence.
“From the interactions I had with the people including the security operatives on ground, it is largely believed that the apparition is truly taking place” Fr. Apangu discloses.
“Many people testified to have seen the Blessed Virgin Mary including some of the police and army men of whom I personally interacted with. As I was at the site, I saw an LDU officer who saw it was pointing at it and calling the comrades to come and see. A Moslem lady also testified about this” states the Parochial Vicar.
Fr. Apangu tels his higher authorities more about testimonies of women, including Ms. Lekuru.
“People also testified to me about the miraculous healing of a woman who is believed to have been crippled for 15 years, walking home normally, after been beaten by the army under the Avocado tree and a blind man too receiving his sight. Another thing people testified about are the miraculous calming of the army men furiously wanting to cut down the Avocado tree or wanting to spray it with bullets. Felister, the widow also claims to have received a message from the Virgin Mary, that she will camp there for 15 days and will give her other messages before she leaves. Virgin Mary also commanded Felister to fast. Indeed, for the last 8 days, Felister is just surviving on water” the missive bearing an official stamp of the Dean, reads.
Only remaining hour for Lekuru to end her fasting and receive the alleged messages from the Virgin Mary, the population to Minako village had soured and defiance of the people against security and presidential directives increased.