This project was conceived during the concluding Eucharistic celebration to mark the Centenary Anniversary of the apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary at F atima, on 13th October 2017. On that day the seminary made a commitment to construct a New Ave Maria Grotto in honour of our Lady of Fatima. This is to highlight the fact that the relationship between our Lady of Fatima and the three children Jacinta, Francésoa and Lucia is analogous to her relationship with priests and seminarians, many of whom started their spiritual journey as members of the Block Rosary. This Grotto is therefore, aimed at enhancing the spiritual wellbeing of both our formators and seminarians.
It is significant to note that this Grotto is located in the famous Ave Maria Court and in front of the Bigard Gorey Bell cast in 1767 and donated by Gorey town to Bigard, in 1958.
Work on the multimillion-naira project started in July 2018, after the design presented by Nechi Dominic and Engr. Sunday Charles and supported by the Bigard 2018 set, was approved by the Rector, Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Albert Okechukwu Ikpenwa.
However, the execution of this project would not have been possible without the intervention of Chief Emeka Madonna Okafor, the CEO of Award Global Pharmaceutical Company Ltd. He singlehandedly undertook to sponsor the total cost of the project, originally estimated to cost N1,450,000:00 but ended up costing over N5,000,000:00 due to variations and some important innovations.
Upon completion, the Grotto was blessed by Most Rev. John Ifeanyichukuwu Okoye, the Bishop of the Catholic diocese of Awgu, in honour of our Blessed Virgin Mary, on 19th March 2019, as part of events marking the convocation ceremony of Bigard 2018 set.