BANGOR, Maine — More than 80 community members are expected to participate in the third annual Way of the Cross Community Procession at 1 p.m. Palm Sunday, April 13.
Last year, the event drew nearly 800 spectators as the procession moved through a 1.6-mile route from St. Joseph Catholic Church on North Main Street in Brewer to St. John Catholic Church on York Street in Bangor. All are welcome to walk in the procession, which consists of prayers, readings and enactments based on the 14 traditional Stations of the Cross.
“We’d like all Catholics in Maine, all Christians in Maine, to feel invited and welcome to join in the experience this year,” said volunteer leader Stephanie Jesiolowski, in a Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland press release.
During the procession, the enactors, who are dressed in costumes communicating historical accuracy to the highest degree possible, present the events of the Passion of Jesus Christ as passages from the Gospels are read to the solemn and prayerful community members. The procession presents an account of the passion that is authentic to the Gospel and to the traditional Way of the Cross prayed in Catholic churches throughout the world.
First held on Palm Sunday in 2012, the event most likely was the first Stations of the Cross procession to be held outdoors in the diocese, which covers the entire state. Similar events are held every three years at World Youth Day, typically held in August. Catholics in the Southern Hemisphere traditionally walk outside stations during Holy Week.
Walking in Christ’s footsteps is not a new idea, according to the Rev. Seamus Griesbach, who helped organize the event two years ago.
“From the earliest days of the church, Christians commemorated the steps Jesus took on the way to his crucifixion,” the priest wrote in the introduction to the program for the 2012 event. “These steps, or stations, became known as Via Dolorosa, and eventually, the ‘Way of the Cross.'”
During the fourth century, pilgrims began traveling to Jerusalem to walk in Christ’s footsteps and “tangibly unite their suffering to his, in the hope of sharing in the joy of his resurrection,” Griesbach, who now serves parishes in the Augusta area, wrote.
“During the Middle Ages, many churches began to be decorated with sculptures representing the stations along the Way of the Cross, he continued. “The Franciscans especially fostered the practice of praying the Stations of the Cross. From them we have inherited the traditional 14 stations prayed by so many throughout the world today.”
Those stations can be seen in Catholic and some Protestant churches around the world. In the Northern Hemisphere, worshippers typically move from station to station inside the church.
The procession will begin at 1 p.m. and will last about three hours. Soup and bread will be served at St. John Church in Bangor immediately afterward. Parking is available at St. John Church and a shuttle service will transport people to the starting point at St. Joseph Church prior to the procession.
Stations of the Cross
1. Jesus is condemned to death.
2. Jesus takes up his cross.
3. Jesus falls for the first time.
4. Jesus meets his mother.
5. Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the cross.
6. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.
7. Jesus falls for the second time.
8. Jesus meets the weeping women of Jerusalem.
9. Jesus falls for the third time.
10. Jesus is stripped of his garments.
11. Jesus is nailed to the cross.
12. Jesus dies on the cross.
13. Jesus is taken down from the cross and given to his mother.
14. Jesus is laid in the tomb.