Seminarian Miguel Irizar carries the cross  through Winston Churchill Square in the Communion and Liberation Way of the Cross April 22.

WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ

Seminarian Miguel Irizar carries the cross through Winston Churchill Square in the Communion and Liberation Way of the Cross April 22.

May 9, 2011
RAMON GONZALEZ
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

EDMONTON — They walked in silence through the streets of downtown Edmonton following a small wooden cross.

About 80 Catholics, including a handful of seminarians from St. Joseph Seminary, took part in the Way of the Cross organized by Communion and Liberation, a local Catholic movement with international roots.

A few blocks away, deep in the inner city, hundreds of people from different Christian churches participated in the ecumenical Way of the Cross. They sang hymns throughout the route and called for justice for the poor and the oppressed at each stop.

Louis Rouleau, a member of St. Dominic Savio Parish and head of Communion and Liberation in Edmonton, says his group holds its own Way of the Cross because that’s one of the movement’s main focuses.

“The reason we do the Way of the Cross is because it’s part of the charism of our movement,” he said. Communion and Liberation organizes similar events in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and many cities around the world.

“We do it the way the movement has taught us to do the Way of the Cross. So what we are doing is not intended to be in opposition in any way (to the ecumenical Way of the Cross). We are just doing what is part of our movement.”

This is the eighth year that the group has held an Edmonton Way of the Cross in memory of Jesus’ death.

Communion and Liberation is a lay Catholic movement begun in Italy in 1954 by Father Luigi Giussani.

“It’s a friendship that helps us recognize the presence of Christ in our lives,” Rouleau explained. To that end Communion and Liberation holds weekly meetings of catechesis, as well as cultural and educational events.

LIFE OF COMMUNION

Its name synthesizes the conviction that the Christian event, lived in communion, is the foundation of the authentic liberation of humanity. Today the movement is present in about 70 countries.

Beginning at Churchill Square, participants processed behind the cross through downtown streets. At each stop they prayed, sang hymns and read passages from the Scriptures. Father Carlos Moreno, a member of the formation team of St. Joseph Seminary, led the prayers. Seminarian Miguel Irizar carried the cross.

“Our message is that the death and resurrection of Jesus is not just something that happened 2,000 years ago,” Rouleau said. “It’s an event that started something new in history that reaches us and we recognize that the meaning of our lives is tied up with that event.”

Justina Yoo, a 23-year-old Malasian student at the University of Alberta, attended the event because it is an opportunity to publicly display her faith.

Back home, Yoo said, people don’t go into the streets on Good Friday but spend time meditating in the church. “This is a different kind of experience.”

Lucienne Forcier and her husband Paul, both members of St. Andrew’s Parish, have been attending the ecumenical Way of the Cross for years.

BEAUTIFUL GESTURE

“This year we heard about this event and we decided to come,” Lucienne Forcier explained. “I’m very pleased.”

“It’s a beautiful gesture to walk the streets of Edmonton to publicly demonstrate our faith in Christ,” said Katherina Nelson, visiting from Kelowna.

Thor Quaranta of St. Albert wanted to attend the ecumenical Way of the Cross but mistakenly ended up in the Communion and Liberation event.

He wasn’t sorry, though. “It was actually very beautiful; very enjoyable,” he said of the procession.