MIDVALE — Dozens of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus parishioners spent weeks preparing themselves mentally, spiritually and physically to celebrate the Passion of the Lord by taking part of a living Way of the Cross that took place on April 15, Good Friday.
Parishioner Marco Antonio Velazquez organized the costumes and rehearsals for the happening, which recreated the events leading up to Jesus’ death by crucifixion.
Having the living Stations of the Cross this year, after two years without it because of the pandemic, was “a great blessing,” said Lourdez Marquez, who portrayed one of the of the daughters of Jerusalem. “I am very grateful that the pandemic has been slowing down and we can all be here today.”
“For me, this is something that makes me reflect a lot on how God gave His life for us. I hope that he keeps on pouring his blessings in us as always,” she said, adding that God “is always present in his people. Let’s hope that with all these trials that we have been through, many people will come back to God.”
The parish administrator, Father Jose Barrera, said that the pandemic has been a test of faith. Although his parishioners kept praying in their homes and through Facebook Live during the Covid-19 lockdown, being physically present to celebrate together as a parish community, young and adults, families with their children, “means that all our prayers have been answered. … Today we can be all together with some precautions, but we can pray together that we are alive,” Fr. Barrera said.
For the Living Stations of the Cross, parishioners portrayed Jesus, the Twelve Apostles and other Biblical figures. They began with a reenactment of the Last Supper. As part of that, Juan Herrera, the person representing Jesus, washed the feet of the people representing the disciples. They then continued with other events leading up to the crucifixion.
“To return to this tradition in this way is so beautiful,” said parishioner Lucia Palapa, who helped organize the various stages of the reenactment. “It is a real joy. We do this with all our brothers and sisters and each one of us who participates with all our hearts so we can keep on going. Despite all that is still going in the world, this is a moment of hope.”
The living Stations of the Cross, which was done in English and Spanish, took place in the city streets surrounding the church in Midvale. Herrera carried a life-sized wooden cross and was whipped by the people representing the soldiers escorting him to Calvary.
“This is a privilege,” said Jaime Becerra, who represented Simon Peter. “It’s something really good for our faith; it’s something that we can transmit, and for me is a way of evangelization. We are hoping that this will help all not only for the ones who are representing a character but for all who are here today.”
The reenactment was important “because we all have lost someone or something, and being today here reminds us what [Jesus] gave for us,” Marbella McDonalds said.
Jesus’ suffering “means solidarity with the people who suffer the most,” Fr. Barrera said. He added that Christ is still suffering in the world and “we are to get united in the pain of the Holy Land, Russia and Ukraine, inviting all to unite in prayer for peace.”
Being able to have the live celebration means hope, Rosa Ramirez said. “Renewing everything in the parish means hope, hope that we can always trust in God. Beyond all the sufferings and trials, we can always have hope in God.”