Way of the Cross in Denver, CO (Photo Credit: Jason Smith)

The Way of the Cross Around America

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

My first experience of the Way of the Cross was deeply moving and impactful. As we silently walked from station to station, I couldn’t help but think of Mary. I thought of her face and I contemplated her agony. In those moments, it felt like her pain transcended time and rested with us as we walked together. The experience was emotional in a way that I have never felt before and I am glad to have experienced it with our group. - Angelica, Seattle, WA

Seattle, Washington

“God, my friend, God troubled Himself, God sacrificed Himself for me. That’s Christianity.” These words written by Charles Peguy became my own words as I proclaimed them to those gathered in St Mary’s Cathedral for our 26th annual Way of the Cross. The desire we have had these past months planning to share this gesture within our little town was so evident in the attention to every detail; from weekly choir practice to putting salt on the path to make it safe. It was clear that this desire was from Another. The visible unity and magnification of each individual ‘yes’ was truly a gift from the Holy Spirit. One of the most beautiful things for me was the unity witnessed by our choir. Twenty-five voices singing as one! There can be only one explanation: He is here, generating a new people. -Ann, St Cloud, MN

St. Cloud, Minnesota

It was my first experience doing the Via Crucis in a public place and I didn’t know what to expect. But, as with every Communion and Liberation gesture, just reuniting with these people always brings joy and a memory of the One who unites us.

We were right there in the middle of Miami Beach, but even with the noises, and the people coming and going, we were able to be attentive to all the prayers, readings, and songs! I asked myself ‘why?’ Then, I realized that it is because His presence is always with us, which we confirm simply if we remember to look at Him and follow Him. It doesn’t matter where we are or the circumstances we are in, He is always with us. - Vickie, Miami, FL

Miami, Florida

When we first began our Way of the Cross in downtown Chicago in 2005, we were a handful of people with no police escort and a priest we flew in from Washington, DC. That year it felt like such a bold move to witness following the cross in a city and a local Catholic church that mostly did not know of our existence. This year we had three bishops with us, quite a number of priests, and several seminarians and religious sisters. Some members of the local Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral along with one of their priests joined us, as well as a county sheriff and members of Kolbe House, the Catholic prison ministry. As these folks began to arrive in Daley Plaza and I met them, I realized we were here not for a CL event, but for something that was for everyone. I have always conceived of this gesture as our gift to our city and the local church, almost if we were something separate from them. This year, the reflections and readings were done by priests and people who are not part of our community, some of whom have perhaps only a passing acquaintance with our charism. I don’t think we would have desired that 18 years ago, but what it has made clear to me now is that we are walking along with the Church, all of us following the cross together. - Terese, Chicago, IL

Chicago, Illinois

About 70 people gathered on the steps of St. Mary’s Church in Cortland, NY at noon on a bright, cold day for the Way of the Cross. Even with the good turnout, before we began, I couldn’t help being a little disappointed. The route we normally take along our Main Street was impassible this year due to the noise and physical disruption of road construction. We went instead along a route where the cross would be seen by many but mostly people in cars. Would anyone even hear the words of the Gospel of John? How could this make an impression on anyone? My answer came at one of our stops, as the last, beautiful, painful lines of the meditation by Fr. Giussani rang out: "'Will we leave him for another love?' This man pours out his blood for us and shall we leave him for another love?" A small boy, 5 or 6 years old at most, cried out in a determined voice “NO!” I realized then with great joy that this witness of the Way of the Cross is as much for me, for our children, for our Christian community, as it is for the larger, secular world. No, by the grace of God, we will not leave Him for another love. - Liesl, Cortland, NY​​

 Cortland, New York

This year at the Los Angeles Way of the Cross, it was clear that our friends lived this gesture following the words of Pope Francis from October 15th to "share co-responsibly the charism they have received." The organization of this gesture wasn't such that there was one person telling individuals what to do, but instead, a group of individuals in the community shared the responsibility and took the initiative for particular tasks. We followed each other's desire to make the gesture beautiful as it was something essential for each person's faith in living the days of the Triduum. In the end, for the first time, there were more people from outside our community who participated in the Way of the Cross than people from the community. This made me realize that we're not the only ones who desire this beauty, but it is something universal for everyone. - Nick, Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles, California

We had the Way of the Cross through downtown Greenville, South Carolina, on a cold and rainy Good Friday. At one point the entire procession was practically racing across a bridge over the downtown waterfall trying to find shelter from a thunderstorm. One of the beautiful things was that two young adults who used to do GS in high school helped Michele, our responsible, to plan the day. For me personally, it was an experience of what we have been reading in School of Community through the words of Peguy: the eternal in the temporal, the flesh as the only place of encounter with God. - Gabe, Greenville, SC

Greenville, South Carolina

The 11th annual Way of the Cross in Omaha was more beautiful than we could have planned - not least because, owing to a number of challenges and changes in our lives, there was little planning possible. Our promotion of the event was minimal, but those of us responsible for the gesture determined that we would do it first of all because of our need to walk with Jesus in this way on Good Friday.

And He surprised us again: where we thought there would be maybe 10, we had 45 in attendance. Among them were friends we hadn’t seen in years, and new faces who mysteriously found out about the event, and were moved by the beauty and simplicity of the prayers and poetry and silence. This, one of us said, was the clearest sign that He is alive among us. The other is that of being surprised by the texts we’ve read before, but which reached us in new ways.

What is beautiful about walking behind the cross along Dodge Street in Omaha is crying: “The God who made all of this loves you, died for you! There is Someone who loves you so much!” - Dave, Omaha, NE

Omaha, Nebraska

Every year that I have participated in the Way of The Cross with Communion and Liberation I have been struck by Giussani's encouragement, “Let us not be scandalized if we discover ourselves to be distracted for a few minutes. The moment we become aware of our distraction, let us begin again to pay attention.” Such a beautiful reminder that my following is not completely disrupted by my own lack, but an opportunity to return to Him again like Peter and say, “Yes, Lord you know that I love you.” - Anthony, Denver, CO

Denver, Colorado (Photo by Jason Smith)

There were tough challenges in our planning this year as the Park Police were strangely reluctant to issue the permits we needed and the DC Police informed us that they could not provide us with an escort in the last leg of the walk because of another obligation. By grace, everything fell into place when it needed to, as the permits were obtained at the last minute and the police sent a separate crew to escort us at the end although we were not expecting to see them.

As happens every year, some people joined us for portions of the walk and others would stop and cross themselves as we processed by. Others were simply puzzled and some took out phones to quickly document the odd occurrence. People in Washington are a little blasé about marches and public demonstrations, but a quiet reverent following of the cross of Christ is such a different kind of statement that it provokes curiosity and sometimes awe. - Tom, Silver Spring, MD

Washington, D.C. (Photo by Mihoko Owada)

We gathered on the morning of Good Friday in downtown Dallas for the first-ever Way of the Cross in Dallas. I was struck by the words of Father Giussani: “Will we leave him for another love?” This small Way of the Cross, which included about 30 friends, adults and children, was an answer to that question. We will stay with you Jesus in these hours of your passion and death. We will stay with you because we love you and want to make your love known. We walked silently behind the cross that Blanca’s dad had made for us. Each in our own way and with our own separate prayers in our hearts expressed this love for Jesus who loved us to the end. We arrived at the steps of the Cathedral just at noon. The moment I gave the final blessing the bells of the church rang. It was a small sign that we were home, embraced by our Mother the Church on this most holy day. - Fr. Matt, Dallas, TX

Dallas, Texas

This year's Way of the Cross in Rochester, NY made Good Friday very, very good for me. We walked through neighborhoods in complete silence, and stopped at parishioners' residences and businesses where we reflected on each of the traditional 14 stations with the help of Fr. Giussani's meditations. Our group was small but very attentive. The silence helped me to be aware of Jesus' presence among us. I left feeling closer to my friends and full of gratitude. - Rita, Rochester, NY

Rochester, New York

This year was our third public Way of the Cross that walked through a portion of downtown Cincinnati, near the university. I am very uncomfortable each time we do the Way of the Cross. We never adequately anticipate the number of people who come, so we have no official police escort, when we should. We are amplifying long excerpts of Peguy in an area of the city where people are more likely to be partying than listening to poetry over a loudspeaker. This year I thought, “If I passed someone from work, I would say ‘I don’t know who these people are, I just ran into them.’” But in that same moment I thought about Peter and his denial of Christ. Still uncomfortable, I found myself grateful for a companionship that embraces me as I am, with all my limits, and that I can follow, when I fall short of being the one capable of carrying the cross. - Duncan, Cincinnati, OH

Cincinnati, Ohio (Photo by Miguel Patag)

My husband Matt and I joined the CL choir this year for the Way of the Cross for the first time. I was excited, but nervous, since I know how good the choir always sounds. It wasn’t easy since I was one of the few people who didn’t know the songs and we had little time to practice. Gabriele, our choir leader, asked us to remember why we were singing and started and ended rehearsal with a prayer. And my fellow altos – Rachel, Monica, and Maria – encouraged me when I was struggling. But still, I didn’t feel prepared.
It was much colder than anticipated on Good Friday, and strong winds were blowing. I could barely hear the tenors and basses. And yet the experience of following Christ through the streets of Boston, with silence, meditations, and songs was powerful. I was Peter denying Christ, I was one of the women standing under the cross, I was invited to embrace my humanity and the call to be with Christ. Suffering and beauty. Suffering becoming beauty in Christ. - Simone, Boston, MA

Boston, Massachusetts

As we bundled kids in strollers and greeted fellow adults and kids who had gathered for the Way of the Cross in our small town of Crosby, MN, I was surprised to see so many new faces in our midst. These were fellow parishioners who don't attend School of Community, who perhaps don't even know our Movement exists. I was so happy to see them, to get to walk alongside them, following the footsteps of the One we love that Good Friday.

Shortly after we started walking, I was moved to think that my being there was simply a response to being preferred. "If I'm here it's because I'm a friend of Jesus who has met me in the flesh," I thought, and what a beautiful, humbling privilege this is.

Finally, after the fourth station, as we crossed an intersection that I frequent almost daily, I reflected on the smallness of what we were doing: walking, reading, praying, trying to keep silence. These are simple things. And yet faith enabled me to see more. I was certain that our attempt to stay with the events of Our Lord's Passion that day carried an infinite value for me and for the world. - Steph, Crosby, MN

Crosby, Minnesota

It seems that all of existence somehow rests upon the mystery of Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection. All of time strains toward this moment, at once perfect tragedy and perfect triumph. Any opportunity to meditate upon these things is wonderful, but to do so with a group, walking through public spaces just as He did was certainly unique. The chants were beautiful and the readings and prayers only intensified the stillness of that day. Even strangers who may or may not have known what was happening seemed to walk more reverently when passing by. - William, Georgia Tech Student

Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia

This year in Evansville, the CL community walked with Fr. Christopher Droste's parishes from one church, Sacred Heart to another, St. Boniface. The path we walked was along one of the hotspot streets in town where many locally owned businesses and restaurants beckon the community to gather. In that space we made a spectacle of ourselves, carrying a cross, with 250 people walking along the sidewalks singing, praying, and offering a silent witness. Like in other cities, perhaps, it has become common to see the adults steering children towards safety and strollers with the youngest rolling alongside those bent over with age. Together, we walked.

It was a new location, and many showed up at Fr. Droste's invitation. Those in the Movement could engage and pray with those who are seeking Christ in the wider diocesan community. The local news station took note and interviewed Fr. Christopher, who said: "We all have an experience of our own passion in life of our own suffering and pain, and we know that with Jesus and our community we don’t do this alone. We accompany one another.” - Julie, Evansville, IN

Evansville, Indiana

On the first page of our Way of the Cross booklet, it stated “it is noisy on the street. It is the very noise and confusion of our city where we spend our days. We will need to desire great attention in order to follow Jesus and to fix our gaze on the event of His passion.” While progressing, I began to notice signs of Him. From the grass turning green, to the trees starting to bud, to the graffiti on the bridge, to the trash on the streets, and to the dead beaver in the river. All that I saw was a sign of Him. A sign pointing to his goodness and a sign pointing to how much the world needs Him. In goodness and in the lack. My Lord, What a Morning. - Nick, Wichita, KS

Wichita, Kansas

The Lord promised where two or more are gathered, He is in their midst. We experienced that on Good Friday in Sacramento, CA as we processed quietly downtown to the Capitol steps, through the heart of the city, to arrive on the steps of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament.

It is always a great provocation to witness to Christ in this silent and humble way, to follow the Cross upon which hung the salvation of the world. Thank you Lord for your love, freely given. Open wide our hearts so that we might be changed into your image, and be faithful witnesses wherever we go, because we know you are with us. Peace. - Danny, Sacramento, CA

Sacramento, California

I was first provoked by seeing the Way of the Cross advertised in our bulletin but then someone texted me and I felt that God was encouraging me to attend. Despite not knowing what it all entailed, I was excited to be outdoors as the weather was supposed to be great. When we began I was immediately struck to discover that the Way of the Cross was worldwide on Good Friday! To know that I was taking part in something so much bigger than me or the group I walked with was moving.

It was a new way to connect to Jesus: I wasn’t in a church or a house, but outside. I fell deeper into a connection of what Jesus went through. I recognized more easily that God created our world and Jesus died in THIS world for us, all of us! I know the Passion readings, but I heard so much more this time. It was like I was having a single encounter with Jesus face to face. - Denise, Sioux Falls, SD

Sioux Falls, South Dakota

For the past 14 years, organizing the Way of the Cross has captured my heart, thoughts and actions from the beginning of the year until Good Friday. Now in our 22nd year, we had 300-400 people from many parts of our city, coming into the center to walk publicly in downtown Houston. Even with the first rain forecast in many years, we were fortunate that the heavy rains came only when we were inside - and stopped before we left for the next station!
I am privileged to observe movements of the Holy Spirit in many people; no amount of organization comes close to the stirring in the hearts of those who come to be a part of this long, beautiful, and sometimes hard journey. While many among us are old friends who for years have joined in this gesture of unquestionable unity, I also noticed budding protagonists: invited friends with eyes full of wonder; teenagers, once infants in strollers on the 2+ mile walk, now participating in the choir, reading or ushering; and priests who offer reflections and are becoming like fathers. The invitation is to remain in this position of humility in front of Christ in order to “recommence daily”, as Giussani said in our Easter poster, and to notice Christ resurrected in the world. - Serena, Houston, TX

Houston, Texas

When I woke up on Good Friday morning it was pouring rain, so heavily that it woke me up before the alarm went off. Just a few minutes after, I started receiving texts from friends giving up on their plans to join us later that morning. I understood our plan for a beautiful and scenic Way of the Cross was spoiled.

When I got to the site with my kids, John was already there waiting under a black umbrella. Then Maria arrived with umbrellas and ponchos. Then a few more friends, then a few other people that we did not know. It was still raining a lot with no sign of it stopping anytime soon. Despite the initial frustration I started noticing their faces, their eyes looking for something, their expression full of desire.

When I looked at these friends in the face, when I looked for Christ in their face, the reason for being there was clear: the most important thing is to draw each of us closer to Jesus. This year Way of the Cross was beautiful in its own way. Because it was simple, more of us, including me, could focus on the gesture itself. I am thankful for this opportunity to look at Him once again. - Pietro, Raleigh, NC

Raleigh, North Carolina

I have always had very moving experiences during the Way of the Cross, but this year was the most powerful one yet. We were a smaller group than normal in Portland, probably due to the terrible weather forecast. As we walked from the church to the first station we were caught in a torrential downpour. My 16 month old was on my husband’s shoulders, relatively dry under an umbrella, but my 4 year old was drenched. As we listened to the first station I saw her begin to struggle. “Mommy I’m cold but I don’t want to miss it. Mommy I’m cold.” My heart was moved with pity for her. When the station concluded I told my husband I was going to take the kids back to the church. I couldn’t expect them to stay out for another hour like this even with the rain letting up. I called my husband’s uncle as we started walking back since he lives on the way back to the church. As I was drying my daughter off I started to cry. Not for the usual reasons of being upset I was missing the rest of the Way of the Cross or that I was grumpy because I was the one who had to come back with the kids yet again since my husband was singing, but because a voice said to me, “This is my love. This is what today is all about.”

Then I understood. We were united to Christ’s Passion very intimately. We had our difficult walk to Calvary, we had our own Simon of Cyrene in my husband’s uncle helping carry our cross, I lived the most selflessly I had in a long time, pouring myself out, doing not my will but the will of Another, loving someone not just with my imperfect love but with the love of Another. Christ is a present Presence. Good Friday didn’t happen once long ago. It happened again on April 7, 2023 in Sellwood and my heart will be forever pierced by it. - Sara, Portland, OR

Portland, Oregon

Since the very beginning of the Way of the Cross over the Brooklyn Bridge in 1996 I always wait for Good Friday as the day, maybe the only one in the entire year, in which I would not be ashamed of following Jesus, I would not abandon Him, and I would announce to the world where salvation comes from. And every year, I came back home different from how I went there.

This year, the change I experienced was particularly powerful. I wanted to follow more intentionally Fr. Giussani’s invitation, put at the very beginning of our booklet: to look at Jesus in the face, with truth. I immediately and surprisingly realized that every single detail of how the Way of the Cross was proposed had one clear purpose: to look at Jesus, to help me to look at Jesus. It was not difficult: I only needed to follow. There, I realized how profound, in us and in the world, is the cry to be “freed from the burden of evil" by the power of His love and resurrection. And I glimpsed why Fr. Giussani says that the greatest sin, “a crime” he calls it, is forgetting the event of Christ, that is, it is living as if the single most relevant fact dominating the history of the entire universe, simply did not happen. It took me almost 50 years in the Movement to arrive at the small intuition of the reasonableness of this affirmation – one of those statements by Fr. Giussani that I considered kind of an exaggeration. After this year's Way of the Cross I have a new appreciation of how “looking at Jesus in the face” can really be all that matters in life: it is not an exaggeration! I am so grateful to follow someone who continuously opens up new wide horizons in front of me. - Angelo, New York, NY

New York, New York

The annual Way of the Cross in the Twin Cities was marked by a blessing of abundance: we ran out of programs at the first station because the number of people who showed up went far beyond what we had expected. Even in large numbers and even in the bustle of downtown St. Paul, a beautiful silence and powerful peace pervaded the procession. It was evidence of a people's response to Christ who loves us before we do anything to deserve it, as Sam, responsible of the Twin Cities, emphasized at the beginning and the end of the Way. - Vince, St. Paul, MN

St. Paul, Minnesota

Together with a group of friends we walked through the streets of New Bedford, Massachusetts, not because we are exceptional, not because we have a show to perform or possess particular talents, but because something moves us and we say “Yes”. There was a simple beauty in our gesture in the way we planned a route together and prepared the flyer and sound equipment.

Strangers driving by waved to us, members of the parish and school community joined us after seeing our flyer and receiving our personal invitation. As a first grade teacher I invited my students. I was surprised to have two parents reach out to me to ask about the event after their child had told them about it and their desire to come. Even the police officer who accompanied us last year, who was scheduled for a day off on Good Friday, told his boss that he needed to work that day so as to accompany us on our way through the city streets. After the Way of the Cross, we gathered for a simple lunch of vegetable soup and grilled cheese at our friend Sharon’s house as we have done for the past few years. It was another simple gesture that is such a moment of beauty and grace for us all. Judging this moment together as friends, we feel as if we have been chosen by Christ and have received this gratuitous beauty. Others see this beauty and are attracted by it and we are so grateful. - Amy, Westport, MA

New Bedford, Massachusetts

Each year on the Way of the Cross, the first passage from Péguy jars me: “Peter’s denial, Peter’s denial... So what? We’ve denied him hundreds and thousands of times because of sin.” Only this year, I wasn’t putting his denial forward “to excuse my own denials,” like Péguy wrote. No, during the Triduum this year I felt very much like Peter. During the liturgy for Holy Thursday the image of the chief apostle fleeing the garden and warming himself by the fire kept jumping out at me. It reminded me of many times I failed to stay with the Lord during the past year.

But Jesus looked at Peter after his denials, and he looks at me too, week after week, through the faces of my companions at School of Community. In one of our meetings during Lent, I shared a judgment that the remarkable sign of Christ’s presence in my life is that, in spite of denying him again and again, I keep coming back to this place where he is alive. What lets me stay with Him week after week despite my denials is the Resurrection: “the explosion of the positivity of Being over the negativity of the falsehood of man’s action.” This, as Giussani says, “ is what gives a reason every day for the hope in life.” - Joe, Kansas City, MO

Kansas City, Missouri (Photo by Timshel Studios)

The Way of the Cross for the Tampa community this year was again carried out under a glorious blue sky in warm and sunny St. Petersburg. Suffering and sacrifice aren't the first things you think of when you arrive at the park in these conditions. Yet our small group of about 30 spent the better part of 90 minutes in prayer, guided by Fr. Giussani's brief reflections and some of Claudel's meditations. Although we've seen these prayers before, something new was able to penetrate our hearts. One of us was so grateful because at the end he realized he could let go of the anger and resentment he's carried for over a year following a tragedy. And another was struck by the simplicity of the way forward: "I look for your face."

-Joe, Tampa, FL

Tampa, Florida

The Steubenville and Pittsburgh CL community led a Way of the Cross on the Franciscan University campus, with about 250 people in attendance. With such a large turnout this year, the silence throughout was especially impressive. People were keenly listening to the meditations, really seeking the meaning of God's Good Friday action. Personally, I was especially moved by the concentration on the faces of some of the little children as they listened to the Passion narrative: the purity of their attention helped me to stay focused. -Stephen, Stubenville, OH

Franciscan University, Stubenville, OH