NOVEMBER DECEMBER 2000 From Fr. JOHN BEIRNE C.S.Sp. DIRECTOR, AOKPE SHRINE PROJECT, BENUE STATE, NIGERIA. GREETINGS FROM AOKPE (ciy from Nigeria). First of all I would like to thank all those who have sent Christmas cards, and donations since my last letter. Next I must apologize once again for the delay in sending this letter. It is not because there is a shortage of news. You will be receiving it through an E-mail to Jim Kneafsey, which will be passed on to Joyce who will be sending out most of the copies. I remind you that I do keep you all in my prayers. These English Newsletters are now circulating on many World Wide Web sites. You will be pleased to know that when at Fatima and Medjurgorje I offered Holy Mass for you, and did pray for all of you in a special way. This morning I will be praying for you and offering Holy Mass for all of you receiving this Newsletter. In the Newsletters I used to send before the Aokpe experience I used to give an account of my return journey to Nigeria. Often something unexpected or surprising would happen. This time I travelled Alitalia and I suppose travelling in November is not quite the same as during the holiday period, and there was very little delay either at Heathrow or Rome. At Lagos to my surprise my two bags came out the first and there was not much delay in them coming. So I was one of the first to go outside. Then I quickly spotted both Fr. Simon Akawu and Paddy my Driver. They had travelled in Fr. Simon's car, which was a Nissan Laurel. One very good thing about the car was that the back window was tinted black and so the car was unusually cool for the long journey. There is a very big convent, which receives missionary travellers quite near to the airport, run by the Sisters of the Eucharist Heart of Jesus. My first Mass on Nigerian soil is always a special occasion for me and I always say a Mass of thanksgiving. This year as a sign of the times with more priests in Nigeria there were four of us concelebrating, So after bed and breakfast and Holy Mass we left Lagos around 9.30 and arrived in Aokpe about six in the evening. It was good to see how much the Ugbokolo Aokpe road has been improved. One of the worst things about the old road was one of the bridges with wooden planks that were not together and so it was rather dangerous, and for that reason I was not driving myself. Now there is no problem. There was quite a bit of commotion in Aokpe since a big Society, the S.S. Peter and Paul were there is full force. Because of heavy travelling and not much sleep I decided to rise later, which was around seven. This was the moment Christiana chose to see me with the latest news about Our Lady and Aokpe. I was very happy when I heard the details about the visitation of Our Lady to Christiana at the August Pilgrimage. This was a message of encouragement for all on the occasion of the Jubilee year. There was a request of world wide importance made to Christiana by Our Lady. In my last Newsletter in July I mentioned how Our Lady helped Christiana in giving her once again the ending of the Mediatrix of all Graces Prayer which she had forgotten. In October this year Our Lady gave Christiana a few words of advice about the Mediatrix of all Graces Statue, which is now being done by a different artist. I ask all of you to pray for Christiana, she is at a difficult period of her life.
Page 2 The most serious news was about the health of the Bishop who was flown to England for hospital treatment a few days earlier. I only heard about it just before I left for Nigeria. In fact Christiana and Fr. Simon Akawu travelled together to see him in the hospital in Makurdi and Fr Simon took him to the airport at Abuja. It was a great shock to all of us when we heard about the death of the Bishop in early December. He was a very active man, full of energy, you might say the last person in the world you would think as a candidate for the next world. A few days before he died he sent for his secretary, Fr. Joseph. Unfortunately he was refused a visa. So the Bishop turned to Fr. Sylvester Onmoke, who needs no introduction to readers of this Newsletter. I talked to Fr. Sylvester after the funeral and he told me what I so anxious to know, about some of the last words of the Bishop, and especially his last words about Our Lady and Aokpe. The first three months, and the last six months of his life as a Bishop were dominated by Aokpe for very different reasons, and I have given the story in my book which is now in the hands of the Printers. It can be safely said that never before has a Diocesan Bishop taken so much interest in an apparition centre in his own Diocese. At the moment I am checking for mistakes in the Script. One of the problems is the inverted commas. There are so many because of the messages. I am hoping that it will be done well enough so that I will be able to send copies to Jim Kneafsey in England who hopefully will be able to sell them all world wide over the internet. Before finishing this Newsletter I should be able to tell you his Web Site address. One of the problems in having a book on the computer is that keys can be touched by accident without one knowing and this could change the text. I did mention a few years ago that there was a possibility of Christiana coming to England. It did not happen at the time but it could be happening in the future. She would like to come in June. This might be too soon however since obtaining the necessary documents in Nigeria for coming to England is a rather difficult process for someone living in a rural area and involves a lot of travelling. Christiana said that she had an interview with Metropolitan Archbishop John Onaiyekan and she met quite a few influential people in Abuja who are interested in helping with the Shrine. I plan to go around to some of the bigger towns in Nigeria selling the books before I return to England and Christiana will be coming with me on some of these journeys. The only place I have booked so far is the Church of Fr. Christopher Enem in Enugu for Sunday the 4th of February. Christiana and myself went to visit Fr. Christopher's Church which was then the Holy Trinity Parish some time ago. In fact it is the only one we have visited so far.They gave us a marvelous reception and came to see us with donations a week or so later. Now Fr Christopher is at St. Theresa's which he says is the biggest Parish in Enugu. Also he says he will tell the people from Holy Trinity so that they will be able to come to see us. Fr Enem is a great devotee of Our Lady and has been to different pilgrimage places in Europe. It is rather appropriate that we should give Enugu priority since it was in that town that Fr. Stefano Gobbi received a message from Our Lady that she loves the people so much that there would be apparitions in Nigeria. It was on November 21st 1983.
I have been sending and receiving E Mails myself for the first time and would have sent a short letter to some of you who are on E Mail, but unfortunately I don't have your E Mail addresses. Once you are on that system it is so easy. So I would welcome anything you send. Unfortunately this E Mail will only be in operation until I leave Nigeria which should be on the 11th of February but because the nearest phone lines are over thirty miles away the E Mail letter would have to be sent a few days before that date. I hope to overcome my E Mail problem in England by obtaining a mobile phone. There is good news from Nigeria in that they have laid digital cables from one end of the country to the other, and one telephone firm is at the moment negotiating with Vodaphone. It is possible that there could be mobile phones at reasonable prices when I return from England to Nigeria. Page 3 Since nearly all the recent news has been dominated by the death of the Bishop I will give you extracts from the chapter I wrote about him in the book:-" The human element is also very much in evidence with apparitions. For example at Lourdes when the Parish Priest was putting pressure on the Bishop to set up a commission of investigation the Bishop was not too keen. However once the commission was in progress and the Bishop was present he was moved to tears when he saw the young Bernadette joining her hands in imitation of Our Lady. It is ironic that the Bishop of the Diocese when the Apparitions first started at Medjurgorje at first believed in them and was giving encouragement to the saintly Parish Priest, Fr Jozo Zovko who did not believe at the time. It is said that what turned the Bishop against them was a reported message of Our Lady criticizing himself. I have experienced this human element myself as regards Aokpe since although one or two things were happening which lessened my wavering faith in the apparitions, it was when I received a strong message from Our Lady that I should apologize to Fr. Samuel Ehatikpo for what I said to him when I terminated his appointment to investigate the apparitions that I definitely decided that the apparitions were faked.. Although I always made the proviso that if people start to come in thousands and there are miracles I would be willing to return to belief. When the apparitions started Aokpe was under the jurisdiction of the Makurdi Diocese with the Rt Rev Athanasius Usuh as the Bishop. For almost three years not much was known about them. It was only in the second half of 1995 just after the creation of the new Diocese of Otukpo and the ordination of the new Bishop, Fidelis Orga Orgah that the apparitions came into prominence in Nigeria. At that time not many knew about the close connections of the new Bishop with Aokpe. When Bishop Fidelis Orgah was born, his father was at the time the Headmaster of Aokpe Primary School, and the place where the Bishop was born was almost at the exact spot of the apparition room. It was customary for young girls preparing for marriage to go to live with a respected family for some kind of formation in preparation for married life. It is interesting to note that Regina Agbo the mother of Christiana went to live with Bishop Orgah's family before she was married.
Bishop Orgah was a bishop for just over five years and what is significant is that both the beginning and the end of his time as bishop was dominated by Aokpe; but for very different reasons. Within a couple of months, after his ordination as Bishop on the 28th of October the attention of the whole country was focussed on his Diocese because of what was happening at Aokpe. The new Bishop seemed to take it all in his stride. Externally he was always in control but it must have been a strain. However he received great help and support from Metropolitan Archbishop, the most Rev. John Onaiyekan and his brother bishops. There were four Bishops present at the climax of the Public Apparitions, the pilgrimage of January 26th-27th. In the intervening years what happened, between Our Lady, Christiana, and Bishop Orgah is not for us to inquire. Externally his attitude was very correct. In my relations with the Bishop in my capacity as someone that was involved I always received the fullest co-operation. In 1999 the Bishop was invited to Our Lady of all Nations Congress in Amsterdam. He enjoyed the experience and made a very good impression. There were over ten thousand people present. It is what happened the second time he went in the Jubilee Year 2000 that is important. He received two great gifts which changed his life. . First he received knowledge about himself. Thanks to Archbishop John Onaiyekan who shared with us this experience in his funeral oration we know that our Bishop did not think that he had long to live. The Archbishop related how Bishop Orgah requested he travel down to see him before Easter in this Jubilee Year and the reason was to tell him of his premonition about his imminent death.
Page 4 The premonition seemed to become definite knowledge after the visit to Amsterdam. He even mentioned at a meeting of his inner Cabinet of Priests that he had not long to live. This knowledge of one's impending death must be a frightening experience, but as the Archbishop pointed out it is a also a great gift from God and Bishop Fidelis must have been very well prepared. This intimation of the Bishop's impending death contrasted very much with his physical appearance. He was a picture of health and strength and full of energy. This is possibly the reason why his own mother fainted when she was told about her son's death. The second gift received was the intuition about the importance in God's eyes of the apparitions at Aokpe........... " I will finish by giving you few details about the book. On one of the front pages, I am putting one of the first messages and also one of the last ones. Message from Our Lady in October 1992 " I come from heaven. I am the Refuge of Sinners. I come from heaven to win souls for Christ and to hide my children in my Immaculate Heart. What I want you
to do is to pray for the souls in purgatory, to pray for the world and to pray to console Jesus. Will you accept?" Then I answered her yes. Message from Our Lady on August 4th 2000 "This is a very special year for the Church and Christiana should tell her Pope, the bishops, the Priests and all her little children that she is with them in a very special way". On the back page after giving a few details about myself I will be stressing some of the important features of the Aokpe apparitions. The Aokpe apparitions have almost everything. A very important title of Our Lady, Mediatrix of all Graces, with a special statue and prayer. Only one visionary and healing waters as at Lourdes. Solar miracles and prophecies as at Fatima Apparitions at all hours of the day and night as at Garabandal Apparitions over a long period of years, as at Medjurgorje. Six months before he died the Bishop, born in Aokpe received messages from Our Lady and became its greatest apostle. As at Lourdes the Parish Priest was asked to build a Church for her. It is the first time that there has been such an important modern apparition in an English speaking country . Christiana Agbo the visionary could not speak English but Our Lady gave her the gift through the Holy Spirit on September 13th 1994. Christiana had a six hour vision of Hell, Heaven and Purgatory. Christiana has shared in the sufferings and Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. I have still not set up the Aokpe Shrine account with an English Bank. This has been delayed by the death of the Bishop. So all donations and cheques for subscriptions should be made out to the Holy Ghost Fathers and sent to:Mrs. Joyce Bampton, 60, Harpes Road, Summertown, Oxford, OX2 7QL.
ENGLISH AOKPE NEWSLETTER N0 11
SEPTMBER-OCTOBER 2000 From Fr. JOHN BEIRNE C.S.Sp. DIRECTOR, AOKPE SHRINE PROJECT, OTUKPO P.O. BOX No 1166, BENUE STATE, NIGERIA. Until 22nd November I will be staying at 6, Woodlands Rd. Bickley, Bromley, BR1 2AF. Tel 0181 467 3555 Extension 240 Fax 0181 295 4965 The Floods First of all I would like to comment on the terrible floods that have been taking place in this country. We much must all feel great sympathy for those who are suffering so much. We should however not be too surprised. It is interesting that one of the Daily Papers commented on the fact that the floods came the day after the Archbishop of Canterbury was talking about this country being atheistic. In the Blue Book Our Lady has told us quite a number of times that in this time of tribulation and purification, this humanity sick and oppressed as it is under the weight of the obstinate rejection of God, and of His law of love can expect many natural disasters. There have been many other prophecies telling us the same thing. I remember once reading an account of the tribulation to come by Christina Gallagher. When it came to England there was a vision of people who seemed to have been trapped in a great flood and I was surprised and did not think that thing would happen in this country. The Book and the Video. Once again I apologize for the delay in sending this Newsletter This time I do not seem to have any excuse. However there should be no problem in doing the final one of the year on time. First of all about the book and the video on Aokpe that I have been preparing. Readers of these Newsletters will know that there have been many unexpected delays. Time after time I have promised you that they would be ready soon, and then something has happened to prevent this. However in some ways this has not been altogether a disadvantage since both items have been improving. The good news now is that in England the book and the video should be ready soon after I return from Nigeria on the 11th of February. I will be giving you the details about the book and the video in either the first or second Newsletter next year . Incidentally I find that so many people here at home find it difficult to pronounce the word Aokpe. As far as I can see it is pronounced as though the first word is an I then the o is pronounced as in top. The Pilgrimages to Medjurgorje and Fatima For me the highlights of the past few months were visits to Medjurgorje. And Fatima. After listening to a wonderful audio tape about an American priest which involved Medjurgorje and Fr. Jozo Zovko, I had the impression that Our Lady