Members of St. Vincent de Paul Parish of Pettis County presented the Stations of the Cross by circumnavigating the St. Patrick Chapel in Sedalia in costume on Good Friday.
“The live Stations includes a mix of teenagers and adults,” St. Vincent de Paul parishioner Osmaro DeLeon stated. “There are between 20 and 22 actors. The main character is Jesus, played by Mario Rojas. We practiced maybe twice a week in the last six weeks. We ordered 20 different costumes from Mexico, and everybody got trained according to that time.”
Parishioners spent a lot of money and time to enact the final hours of Jesus, said Father David Veit, one of two pastors in solidum of St. Vincent de Paul Parish.
“The Church’s tradition of devotion to the Stations was an opportunity to appreciate the great love that Jesus has for us,” Fr. Veit said. “To relive and walk with Him in those moments and reflect on them affects our ability to inspire us to answer His call.”
Many churches contain statues, frescos or paintings representing the 14 Stations of the Cross, where congregations move from one station to the next to reflect on Jesus’ passion and death.
“In many churches, that has become impractical due to the size of the congregation,” Fr. Veit noted. “But there’s also a tradition of doing live Stations, where everybody moves with actors reenacting Jesus’ last hours with His passion and suffering.”
It’s one thing to see a painting or fresco and try to imagine what Jesus went through on His walk to Calvary, but to the people who gather outside St. Patrick Chapel on Good Friday each year, the live Stations of the Cross is a more visceral experience.
“We’re very tangential people,” Fr. Veit noted. “That’s why in liturgy we use everything in our bodies — not just our minds — but also what we smell, what we see, what we can touch.”
Starting on Holy Thursday, with many of the cast fasting to feel the suffering of Jesus more fully, Good Friday becomes a focal point of the days leading up to the resurrection of Jesus and the redemption of His follower’s souls on Easter Sunday.
“For us it’s the most important part,” Ms. DeLeon stated. “To live out Jesus’ last hours before death — for us, that’s when everything changes, it’s like inspiration for us.”
This year, coming out of the pandemic adds extra meaning to the Stations of the Cross.
“It’s a great tradition,” said Fr. Veit. “The organizers obtained a permit to walk down the street around the church, so that the whole community can participate and join in. The live Stations really allows those moments to wash over our minds and hearts and realize just how much Jesus loves us and (how much) He endured because of that love.”
This is a slightly revised version of an article originally published in the April 18, 2022, edition of the Sedalia Democrat newspaper Sedaliademocrat.com. It is published here with permission.