On Good Friday this year I was privileged to make the Via Crucis, the Way of the Cross, with the parishioners of St. Patrick's Parish in central Los Angeles.
The Stations were written and acted out by young people of the parish. What made these Stations unique was the integration of the traditional Stations with the realities of their own community. A brief summary of each of the 14 Stations follows:
1st: We stopped at an intersection near the Church where where a young man who was mentally disabled was struck and killed by a car as he walked home on Ash Wednesday night from Church; ashes still on his forehead. Remembrance of senseless accidents.
2nd: An elementary school was the next stop; reflection on Jesus' care and concern for children in his ministry; remembrance of children suffering in broken or violent homes.
3rd: Stopped opposite two Botanicas, or drug stores, where in the past sales of drugs took place.
4th: Next location was a former small church, now covered in graffiti.
5th: Paused in front of a high school and pondered the love of Jesus for young people, especially those living in barrios.
6th: Stopped in front of an old hotel--the only place where African-Americans could stay in past years, especially when they were forbidden to stay in all other Los Angeles hotels. Prayed for an end to racism.
7th: Next location was next to a new Police Station, prayed for our law enforcement officials to help bring an end to street violence.
8th: Paused opposition two liquor stores; prayed for an end to alcohol abuse and recovery for all addicted to various substances.
9th: Stopped in front of one of the dozens of small clothing manufacturing plants where so many parishioners work; considered Jesus working there along side of these men and women.
10th: Next stop was an ally behind clothing plants; reflected on so many people earning a minimum wage, no benefits, no rights; Jesus is here with the workers day and night.
11th: Paused in the midst of a residential area, reflecting on Jesus knocking on the doors wanting to enter and dwell with our families.
12th: Stopped in an ally and reflected on Jesus dying for all of us, abandoned and alone.
13th: Next stop was another alley where the dirty sights and smells reminded us of so many people who mourn the loss of a loved one; Jesus there in our midst.
14th: Returned to the interior of the Church to reflect on the burial of Jesus, awaiting the miracle of his resurrection in three days.
These Stations of the Cross were creative and imaginative, all situated in the living reality of the people of St. Patrick's Parish on Central Avenue and 34th Street. The young people who developed them were amazing, and filled with faith a deep love for Jesus in his self-giving for all of us.
I have already entered this parish on my calendar for Good Friday 2016.