Way of the Cross, Washington, D.C.

Way of the Cross 2024

Communities throughout the country gathered on Good Friday to witness to the Event that saves.

What can I say? Our friend fresh from radiation and chemotherapy carried the cross to start the procession in the chapel at Franciscan Univeristy. To watch her small body carry the cross was almost to watch metaphor take flesh, or to watch flesh become metaphor, or maybe both. The poignancy was almost too much to bear. Someone who bore so much, who bears so much. Bearing bad hospital attitudes, bearing treatment, bearing the aftermath of radiation burns. And now bearing a literal cross. And who am I to bear such a witness? To be tossed into friendship with such a witness?

Caroline, Steubenville, OH

Washington, D.C.

In Washington, D.C., our route ran across the downtown area, moving straight east. We started at Saint Stephen Martyr Church, and were joined by Cardinal Gregory. He stayed for the first station and graced us with his remarks, calling us to live as public witnesses to the mercy of God. The procession moved along K street, stopping at downtown plazas to conduct our stations: Farragut Square, Franklin Square and Freedom Plaza. At every stop a number of workers or tourists would join us for a little time, drawn in by the beautiful singing of the choir or the readings. We concluded at Saint Patrick Church, a picturesque historic church on the eastern side of the downtown area. Our Way of the Cross was a moving, prayerful gesture recalling us to the memory of Christ's redemptive sacrifice. It was a grace for me, and I was very happy to freely offer it to the people of our city.

Tom, Washington, D.C.

Houston, TX

And joy suddenly stirred in his soul, and he even stopped for a minute to take breath. “The past,” he thought, “is linked with the present by an unbroken chain of events flowing one out of another.”
Chekhov, The Student

Once again, the Way of the Cross revealed this link between the events of Christ’s passion and death with those following His steps on Good Friday. An estimated 500 people participated this year in Houston starting at the University of St. Thomas continuing to Holy Rosary Parish, then to Catholic Charities and concluding at the Co-Cathedral in downtown. This year not only manifested the fruits of a ‘yes’ offered by many in our community but also the belonging of us as a Church, the people of God walking together. Children, now high school and university students, joined their parents as readers, ushers, cross bearers and choir singers leading the crowd in procession behind the cross. Upon arriving at the last station, a homeless woman exclaimed, “Look! An Easter Parade.” The recognition of Christ continues and joy stirs our souls.

Natalie, Houston, TX

Tampa, FL

The CL community of Tampa Bay gathered for our Way of the Cross procession along the waterfront in downtown St. Petersburg on the evening of Good Friday. Our small band of 20 made the 1.2 mile walk, marked by songs, meditation and silence. Being our first time processing downtown, prayer and meditation were a challenge amidst the distractions of kids playing, cars honking, outdoor weddings, and yacht club parties. Though a small group, we were pleased to count 5 among us who were joining our Way of the Cross for the first time. A passerby also followed us silently and stood with us, simply acknowledging the Cross. A special sign of Christ's Presence were the words from one of the teenagers among us who stated that she liked "the CL people because they were interested in her, even though she was young... [and the day]...helped change her opinion of the Church."

Joe, Tampa, FL

Rochester, NY

On Good Friday morning, as I sat in a darkened church building with an empty tabernacle and a beam of sunlight coming through the St. Charles Borromeo-stained glass window to my left, I waited for people to assemble and said a little prayer: Lord, help me to love amidst so much hate. God always responds so promptly and kindly, in ways that speak to my broken, little heart.

For this year’s Way of the Cross, I invited people from all corners of my network to join us. Not a single person I personally invited came. The parable of the Wedding Feast, many are invited, but few are chosen (Matthew 22:2-3, 10, 14) was the context I found myself in as we set out. As we processed through the busy streets of Rochester, we had many cars honk in support offering positive waves and thumbs up from their cars. One gentleman felt the need to call out “Get a job!” as he drove by. It called to mind my gratitude to be able to set this day apart to participate in the Way of the Cross and a Good Friday service, things the world holds in contempt to its productivity and busy-ness. With each station, the readings began to shed more light on my own personal understanding of Jesus’ walk to Calvary. I had been given the task of reading Old Testament passages for many of the stations. Our microphone ran out of battery almost immediately and as a generally soft-spoken person, particularly in front of crowds, I was forced to shout to be heard above the city noise. How humbling and profound to be at a busy intersection and shout, “I AM A WORM” and “ALL WHO SEE ME MOCK ME” (Psalm 22: 2-9, 11th Station) to a reverent, silent crowd. The truth of these statements pierced me, and the blessing of being able to remember, Jesus died on the cross for me. Jesus loves me in a real and profound way that is unique to me. His love for me is unlike His love for any other person who has ever lived and ever will live. What a grace to embrace this truth on Good Friday.

Erin, Rochester, NY

Greenville, South Carolina

We walked the way of the cross in Falls Park, which is the heart of our city of Greenville, South Carolina. I was struck by the silence of so many young children, who perhaps only understood that something important was happening, and that silence was the way to respond. A man was in a meeting downtown and saw us walking by and joined in halfway through. It was also an en ecumenical moment and an experience of communion - many of our readers and cross bearers were young people and many were from other Churches. Yet we were united around the cross of Christ.

Gabe, Greenville, SC

As we journeyed through the bustling downtown streets on the Way of The Cross, I found myself reflecting on the distractions that often consume my daily routines, hindering my ability to fully grasp the reality of Christ's presence in my own community.

As we passed by the county jail, I couldn't help but imagine Christ enduring a similar confinement, awaiting judgment like countless others. Further along, as we approached the federal courthouse, I was reminded that Christ too faced prosecution in settings not unlike this one. These landmarks suddenly took on a deeper meaning as I realized they once played a role in restricting and condemning my Savior.

These were not mere nuisances, they were signposts pointing to a deeper reality of me being preferred and loved. The once mundane buildings I passed by daily now serve as symbols of the precious gift from my Savior. It is in the ordinary, the everyday, that the sacred reveals itself.

This experience prompts me to wonder: what other subtle nudges from God am I overlooking in my daily life? What other signs are waiting to draw me closer to His heart, if only I was open to noticing them?

Paul, Wichita, KS

It remains unclear what became of Simon of Cyrene after he was compelled to help carry the cross with Jesus. There is speculation that he was accompanied by his children during this event, who are possibly referenced later in the Gospels, though their significance remains unclear. One can only imagine the added drama of this encounter if Simon's family were present. To be clear, Simon did not volunteer for this task. He was ”pressed” into assisting Jesus, who was viewed as a criminal, and it's likely he was reluctant. This experience has profoundly shaped my understanding of bearing my own burdens. I never sought out the burdens I carry. As a child, I would often speak to Him, as imaginative children do. Yet, as I got older, I drifted, seeking Him in various forms that proved to be mere substitutes. Though these filled a void temporarily, they ultimately led me to greater enslavement. Despite my efforts, these habits became increasingly unmanageable. It wasn't until I reached my lowest point that I was forced to admit that I was powerless. I found myself asking the same question that Simon may have asked: “What have I done to deserve this?”

Then, a friend introduced me to a new perspective and offered to share my burden. "You are not alone," he said. There's no need to struggle in isolation or to bear this perfectly. He reminded me that even Jesus stumbled three times under the weight of the cross — not just once, but thrice. It made me reflect on my own failures. The commitment required is only to carry what is given to you. He will be there to help carry the rest.

Today, I've chosen to embrace my cross. I may not always carry it happily, and sometimes I will fall. I am comforted by the certainty I have in not bearing the weight alone, but with Him who provides.

Jason, Denver, CO

“It took one yes, and all of the other yeses came”. And so we began to judge our organization of the first Way of the Cross in Columbus, OH. We were struck by the notion that this was a new thing for the people of Columbus — 300 people, walking behind our Bishop Earl, reading Péguy (not protesting) in front of the State House, singing Pergolesi, and following in silence. The entire community was involved — even those who couldn’t come — locating the stations, contacting police, organizing a simple supper of soup and bread meal for all of our guests. “The Way of the Cross has made Columbus more mine; made me love it more!” A new friend wrote, “You guys have the same gaze that I saw while at Notre Dame, and that Fr. Giussani writes about”, asking if his wife and he could continue to walk with us.
What moved us to this change from A-A1, if not the original Mover!

The Columbus Community

This year, the Way of the Cross was held on the grounds of St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami, Florida. Both members and friends of Communion and Liberation attended. We listened to the reflections of Fr. Giussani after each of the stations. The gesture reflected the beauty and the simplicity of our community in Miami.

Edward, Miami, FL

At the end of February, Lent took on a new meaning for me when our baby in utero was diagnosed with a cystic hygroma and hydrops fetalis at 12 weeks gestation. We have been waiting ever since for the ultrasound that confirms the doctors' grim estimation of her life expectancy. It hasn't come yet. For me, the Way of the Cross was a walk with Mary as she waited for the death of her child, perhaps wishing it would come more swiftly? But at the same time, she was filled with faith in the divinity of her Son and firm conviction in God's power over life and death, and I pray to remain in that faith too. I also witnessed my friends heaving the cross onto their shoulders, and as I reflected on the embrace I have received from the Community since the diagnosis, I was filled with gratitude for the friendship that will never let me bear any cross alone. Please join us in praying for Samantha Hope!

Kathryn Skillett, Omaha, NE

Once again, this year we have proposed the public Way of the Cross in downtown Chicago. We were challenged by some technical difficulties that were resolved only a few days before Good Friday. Yet, these difficulties contributed to making mine, once again, the reasons for this gesture well expressed in the words we hear at the beginning of the procession:

The Way of the Cross in the heart of a city where millions of people carry their daily cross, most of the time dreadfully alone, thinking: “If God exists, He has nothing to do with my daily life”.

This is the true cross of every day, the cross of a person abandoned only to himself in his most inner need for a never-ending love, truth, beauty, and justice.We need the presence of “God-with-us,” Jesus, every day. And Jesus, because of the sacrifice of His cross and because of His resurrection, dwells among us, every day.

This is the announcement that I need to hear and experience in the companionship of people who follow Him. This is the announcement that everyone is waiting to encounter.

Benjo, Chicago, IL

Chicago Video

To our surprise there were thirty adults and twenty children at our Way of the Cross in Raleigh, NC. It started and ended at Sacred Heart, the site of the original cathedral of this diocese – the very youngest of all dioceses in the U.S. It was a beautiful, sunny day. The direction of the choir had fallen to me, even though I do not possess that talent. I had been very nervous about this but at the last minute asked my friend Desa if he could direct everyone and he said ‘yes’. His ‘yes’ changed my outlook completely. It became clear to me that this effort was not depending on me but rather on Another who was providing what we needed. Something that in my small “ideology” seemed overwhelming became clearly the work of Another. For that I am full of gratitude.

Maria, Raleigh, NC

This year, I was moved more than ever by the beauty of our gesture but particularly by the gift that the Way of the Cross is for our city and its Church.

This year, Bishop Brennan of the Dioceses of Brooklyn/Queens led the reflections at all the stations. We were also joined by members of the Focolarini movement, by the San Damiano Mission in Williamsburg, where our Way of the Cross was included in the official Triduum. An even greater sign of the ecumenical mission of our movement was seeing Giancarlo, an asylum seeker from Venezuela who some of us met during charitable work, carry the cross over the Brooklyn bridge and, in front of city hall, handing it to a member of Thrive for Life project, who was released from Rikers only a couple of months ago and who met us during another moment of charitable work.

But the Way of the Cross over the Brooklyn Bridge is a moment of powerful memory, not only for those attending the walk, but also for the people that happen to be along our route. How many stopped and looked at the cross, did the sign of the cross and said “oh yes, it’s Good Friday today”. How powerful it was to hear a tour guide saying in amazement: “I have done this tour many times, but this is the first time I see something like this” as the cross was borne along the Brooklyn bridge.

Finally, it filled us with joy to hear Bishop Brennan’s kind words at the end, when, “on behalf of all the people present”, he thanked Communion and Liberation for organizing every year, “for all of us”, this moment of memory of Christ’s sacrifice. The Way of the Cross over the Brooklyn Bridge is not “our” Way of the Cross, but rather the city’s Way of the Cross that we organize for it.

Luca, New York City, NY

Because of heavy rain on Holy Thursday and Good Friday, our Way of the Cross in New Bedford, Massachusetts took place inside St. Gabriel the Archangel Church. Several people joined us, and Fr. Luca Brancolini led us and provided reflections. We decided to walk around the perimeter of the church in between each station. Because it was Good Friday the Eucharist was removed from the main tabernacle, and we walked by the empty tabernacle many times. Each time we walked by, I was struck by the open doors and the stark, white inside walls. I began to ask myself, “What would life be like if Christ was never in the tabernacle, if this presence never existed?” I thought about the richness and beauty of our rituals, worship, and celebrations. I also thought about how life with Christ informs everything we do, even when we are not always aware of it. Without the incarnation, life, death, and resurrection of Christ, what would be the meaning of love, suffering, work, beauty, truth, and faith? Life would then be empty and meaningless. As I thought about these things walking at the back of the line, I looked up and saw James carrying the cross and walking past beautiful stained glass windows of the saints - Pius X, Margaret Mary Alacoque, and Patrick - followed by the rest of our friends and those who joined us. In Fr. Luca’s reflections, he said that what we do here today is not a reenactment. James is helping Jesus to carry the Cross, we are standing at the foot of the Cross with Mary, and this event is made present now along with a great cloud of witnesses so we can be there with Christ. I was filled with gratitude for this friendship and for the awareness to recognize that with Christ, life is full and open to everything. With Christ and these friends, even when life is difficult, I am able to say ‘yes’ and follow Him as I carry my cross, certain that beyond the Cross, there is the Resurrection.

Sharon, New Bedford, MA

I have participated in Boston’s Way of the Cross for more than 20 years, and rarely have I seen such bad weather. At the first station downtown, amidst freezing rain and high winds, I was forced to ask myself why I had come at all. The answer, which slowly revealed itself over the next two hours of walking, singing, listening, and praying, was a simple desire to walk with Jesus who I have come to love, carrying my own small cross – anxieties about family, work, and relationships – not alone, but with Him. This helped me to live this year’s Way of the Cross with joy and gratitude.

John, Boston, MA

After the first CL Way of the Cross I experienced, in London in 2022, I was struck with the question of the purpose of this gesture. Even amongst the beautiful music, readings from the Scriptures and reflections by Fr. Giussani and others on Christ's Passion, what good could walking through often deserted streets, carrying a cross, stopping occasionally on the journey to hear these things really do? Even ahead of the Way of the Cross in Kansas City this year, a city sometimes seemingly devoid of life outside of the confines of cars, what could we truly achieve? Perhaps we would have better spent our days purely in our church communities, at the Solemn Liturgy, or Stations of the Cross.

It was a blessing, therefore, to be reminded, both by Bishop Johnston of Kansas City-St. Joseph at the start of our Way of the Cross, and our Responsible at its close, of the importance of this witness to a world which needs to hear the voice of Christ and yet which so rarely does. Too, I was struck by the complementarity, rather than the competition, of the Way with the other liturgies of the day. As many of us gathered in Holy Name Parish in Kansas City later for the Good Friday Liturgy, the experience of a day lived in community, following the Cross both in witness to world and in worship, was clearly felt.

Huw, Kansas City, KS

This was the 26th year that our community has hosted the Way of the Cross here in St. Cloud. The question that I seem to face each year in helping plan this gesture always comes down to, ' Why this gesture when there are so many beautiful liturgical events happening at the parishes in our town?'

The response to my question became more clear as I followed the crowd of 150 people walking in silence behind someone carrying a wooden cross. To use Charles Peguy's words from our 1st station," God, my friend, God troubled Himself, God sacrificed Himself for me." In following the cross that day I was filled with gratitude for Christ's love for me and desire that each person we would encounter might know that same love.

Ann, St Cloud, MN