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Youth re-enact Stations of the Cross

Posted By March 22, 2012 | 1:08 pm | Lead Story #2, Local

See Photo Galleries for more photos of Stations of the Cross – St. Denis//Photos by Tanya Connor

By Tanya Connor

Jesus found the Stations of the Cross exciting, if challenging. And they made his Mother cry – more than usual.
Jesus, played by Ryan Sheehan, and Mary, played by Amanda Maguire, shared these reactions to dramatizing this traditional Lenten devotion Friday at their parish, St. Denis in Douglas.
The two are members of the confirmation class, to which it falls each year to present living Stations of the Cross, said Father William N. Cormier, pastor.
“They do a fantastic, wonderful, beautiful job,” he said. The presentation, which was brought to the parish about 15 years ago, keeps getting better, he said.
Each year the confirmation students present the Stations in costume one Friday of Lent, the fifth-graders read them another Friday, and the other Fridays adults pray a scriptural Way of the Cross, the pastor said.
At 10 a.m. on Good Friday interactive Stations of the Cross
for children and families, complete with visuals such as cloth and nails, are held in the parish cemetery at 62 Manchaug St. This year a make-up day is scheduled in the local public schools, but the superintendent agreed to grant excused absences to youth who participate in the Stations, said Nancy Norberg, administrative assistant.
On Palm Sunday, adults in costume do a Passion Play at St. Denis, Father Cormier said.
Other parishes also involve children, teenagers and/or adults in Passion Plays or creative presentations of the Stations.
“I had a good time,” Ryan said of playing Jesus at St. Denis. “I had to go through all the different things he went through. It was exciting just to, like, pretend I was him – the Savior.”
What did it do for him?
“It kind of changes me,” he replied. “I should follow him more than I do now. He gave up his life so I could live.”
Amanda (Mother Mary) said she’s participated in the children’s Stations and last year went to the confirmation class’ presentation, which she found extremely moving.
“But being in it was a whole different experience,” she said. “I cry every year, but this year I was sobbing.”
This year, like last year, the confirmation class used “Stations of the Cross through the Eyes of Mary.”
“You’re on, like, one level where you’re a regular person, realizing your Savior died for you,” Amanda said. “But on another level you’re seeing your Son die and you’re experiencing that grief.”
The words and music helped her portray her character, said Amanda, who does acting in school, but found it somewhat harder to use one action in silence to communicate emotion. For each Station, actors froze in position as narrators read Mary’s reflections and the accompanying present-day application.
“I’ve heard all the songs in church, but when you’re in that position it’s a whole different experience,” Amanda said of the music the parish folk group recorded for use with the Stations.
What did playing Mary do for her relationship with Jesus and his Blessed Mother?
“I think it strengthens it,” Amanda replied. “It reminds me how lucky I am. I have to remember to be a good person. Mary suffered and Jesus suffered and so I have to live for them.”
“It just brought everything to life,” said Stephanie Jussaume, who played an apostle. “You see pictures in the church, but when it’s real people right in front of you it’s different, especially if it’s your friends. We all kind of grew up.”
“I thought it was a good experience for all of us,” said Benjamin Phelps, who played a guard. “It offered a different perspective. It made us think deeper about what really happened.”
Stations of the Cross at St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Dudley Friday offered yet another perspective.
“Seeing the pictures of other people’s real experiences helped create a better connection between what Jesus went through and what people are going through now in different countries,” Heather Kupstas wrote in response to the Maryknoll social justice Stations used there.
“It made me really sad,” wrote Amanda Horne. “Especially since the posters show real people and the struggle they have to go through, just like Jesus.”
“This made me feel different about everyone in the world,” commented Hannah Doherty. “People are suffering and I really feel like everyone should help.”
Kyle Dickson also expressed sorrow for the people in the pictures, and said he liked the flashlights.
Linda Brink, religious education coordinator, said each year the church is darkened so the ninth-graders, who are studying social justice, can shine flashlights on the photographs used for the Stations.
Other Fridays of Lent the parish offers other reflections for the Stations of the Cross, some geared to specific groups.