Leading a congregation of umbrella-toting parishioners, Peter Harrington, Maria Celeste Lara, Julio Lara, Phil Allison and Andrea Pena took turns carrying a large, wooden cross as they walked the streets of South Boston on Friday morning.
The cross bearers, members of various South Boston churches, were just a few of the community members who commemorated Good Friday by participating in South Boston’s outdoor ecumenical Way of the Cross.
“Today we follow (Jesus) in His final surrender,” Javier Soegaard, pastoral associate at the South Boston-Seaport Catholic Collaborative, said at the start of the walk.
The Way of the Cross – or Stations of the Cross – is a representation of Jesus Christ’s day of crucifixion, which is commemorated on Good Friday. Churches often have 14 images hung inside, which people can stop and pray at sequentially.
(The 14 Stations of the Cross, in order, are: Jesus is condemned to death; Jesus accepts the cross; Jesus falls the first time; Jesus meets His Mother; Simon of Cyrene carries the cross; Veronica wipes the face of Jesus; Jesus falls the second time; Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem; Jesus falls the third time; Jesus is stripped of His garments; Crucifixion: Jesus is nailed to the cross; Jesus dies on the cross; Jesus’ body is removed from the cross; and Jesus is laid in the tomb and covered in incense.)
Alternatively, the Way of the Cross can be walked outside, as is done each Lenten season in South Boston.
Sr. Madeleine Cavanaugh of St. Monica Church started this outdoor Way of the Cross about two decades ago. This year, the walk was organized by Soegaard, the Rev. Burns Stanfield of the Fourth Presbyterian Church, and Carlos Quintin, a parishioner at St. Monica Church.
Sheltered briefly from the rain, parishioners from community churches – including St. Monica-St. Augustine, St. Brigid and Fourth Presbyterian – gathered inside the front doors of St. Monica Church before embarking on a prayerful walk that would end at Dorchester Heights.
The walk was diverse and inclusive, with participants ranging from young children to senior citizens, and with prayers, reflections and songs in English and Spanish. The ecumenical worshipers stopped at churches, a school, a nursing home and on sidewalks in busy South Boston Friday morning, pausing at one point beneath the “D’Angelo Grilled Sandwiches” sign on Old Colony Avenue.
“I think they make a concerted effort to stop at as many Christian sites along the way, or sites that sort of are dedicated to the public good, so that would be within that sort of model of service,” Soegaard said.
But the end of the route, which finishes at the highest point in the neighborhood, is the most significant.
“The hill is the goal. It’s trying to sort of walk up the hill … trying to get that sort of imaginative experience of walking with Jesus,” Soegaard said. “That’s the most important part.”
The dozens of walkers prayed in the pouring rain at the final station, next to the Dorchester Heights Monument, before dispersing on Good Friday.
“It’s been a great privilege and honor to walk this walk with … souls such as yourselves,” said the Rev. Burns Stanfield. “We walk with Jesus, and you – we – are the body of Christ.”