By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — While celebrating the Assumption of Mary outside Assumption High School on Aug. 15, Father Nicholas Akindele said it’s natural to want to cancel 2020. Most of the people sitting in lawn chairs before him were still dealing with power outages and storm damage from a derecho storm that hit just days before. This, in the midst of a pandemic that shows no signs of slowing down.
Dark skies overhead opened up and heavy rain began to fall as Father Akindele began his homily. He encouraged the faithful to grab umbrellas and stay. He also encouraged them to find blessings and opportunities amid the challenges of 2020. “It almost always gets worse before it gets good,” said Father Akindele, defender of the bond for the diocesan marriage tribunal and parochial vicar at St. Peter Parish-Buffalo and Holy Family and St. Alphonsus parishes-Davenport. It’s important for non-believers to see Catholics take time to serve God even in inclement conditions, and to see that God is with them even in hardship.
While raindrops — like hardships — may be uncomfortable, both are necessary for growth, he said. “In life, if there were no challenges and difficulties, we would never take a detour. We would continue the same path.”
After Mass, as the storm clouds cleared and beams of sunlight warmed the faithful, Father Akindele revealed how his own struggles led to new opportunities. Last year, he wanted to go back to his home country of Nigeria, fearing “there was nothing here for me. But, the Blessed Mother said, ‘No.’” Last month, Father Akindele felt called to lead a 33-day online consecration to Jesus through Mary, broadcasting “from the basement of the St. Vincent Center” in Davenport. These videos have now been viewed over a half-million times. “Restoration, redirection and renewal come through her. She’s immaculate, obedient and humble.”
The Mass, celebrated on the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in front the Mary statue behind the high school, culminated the consecration. “We’ve spent 33 days of planning and praying despite the difficult times,” he said, asking, “In whose heart do you live? Do you live in your heart or the heart of the Blessed Mother? Once you live in the heart of the Blessed Mother, the whole situation around you is nothing.”
He urged the faithful to trust everything to the Blessed Mother. “Use her immaculate heart to love the world through you.”