Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 8, 2002
Way of the Cross follows Jesus
Participants focus on learning peace in a violent world
By RENATO GANDIA
WCR Staff Writer
Good Friday, and the sun was shining, but Edmonton's inner city streets were muddy and the weather nippy.
Even under those hostile conditions, the annual Way of the Cross attracted more than 1,000 people who wound their way through downtown streets for more than two hours, stopping at various stations, singing, praying and reflecting on the significance of the life and death of Jesus.
This year's Way of the Cross centred on Learning Peace in a Violent World.
Each stop focused on the reality of violence, of despair, poverty, prejudice, war and global economic disparity. And The Way participants prayed for peace and non-violent solutions for society's discontent.
The Way of the Cross began at the Nativity of Mary Croatian Catholic Church making its way to Hong Kong Bank, an empty lot on 105A Ave., the Dream House, Black Cat Press, McCauley School, Sacred Heart Church, MilArm Co., Mennonite Centre for Newcomers parking lot and then back to where it began.
At the stop in front of MilArm gun store at 10769-99 St., the Edmonton chapter of the international group, Women in Black, stood in silent vigil while people prayed and reflected.
The wooden cross was placed side by side with a war tank in front of the store, creating a more dramatic effect while people questioned themselves.
"How am I using my voice to encourage more international support for non-violent resolution to conflict? Do I support the role of Canadian forces in Afghanistan? What should I be doing today to help fulfill the prophecy about a time when swords will be beaten into ploughshare?"
Collette Fluet, 24, a member of Women in Black, said she believes a connection between faith and action is crucial in the world today. "I think this is what Jesus is calling us to do."
Women in Black is an international group that started in Belgrade to protest the violence of war and has spread to other parts of the world.
The outdoor Way of the Cross began in 1980 when a group of Catholics decided a more visible expression of their faith was needed. Other churches quickly became involved. Organizers say the procession is held in the inner city because that's where Jesus would have worked.
Said Jim Gurnett of the Mennonite Centre, "There's a power in having so many people gather, even though we may each have our own way of using the time for personal reflection. But the sense of community when there's a thousand people walking together is quite heartening."
With the honouring of the passion of Jesus, the group wants Christianity to be a working part of our everyday lives.
"Christianity is something that affects our whole life, in every area of the economy, of politics, of how we treat each other seven days a week," Gurnett said.
Janet Werstiuk, a registered nurse at the Cross Cancer Institute, appreciated the ecumenical social justice-oriented celebration of Good Friday.
"I find this a very unifying experience and it appeals more powerfully than the regular church service."
A master of divinity graduate at Newman College, Werstiuk said, "I believe Christianity essentially represents solidarity with the poor and walking with the poor. "And to come down into the inner city on Good Friday and be a part of it, I feel like I am doing that."
Robert Dawson, 31, was impressed that different churches in Edmonton celebrate Good Friday together.
"With the issues highlighted in this short journey, I can imagine the suffering of Jesus through the suffering of the people today," Dawson said.
"The sufferings of these people should be led to a resurrection and I believe God wants us to be part of how that resurrection is to be achieved in our world today - by being part of the solution and not adding to the problems."
Linda Dumont, editor of Boyle-McCauley News, led in the reflection at Black Cat Press, saying, "Too often the media don't portray the interest of the poor."
In a stop at McCauley School, Rebecca Pinto, a Grade 10 student at St. Francis Xavier, spoke about the violence young people experience. "We have to teach the people and our young people violence doesn't solve anything. We have to use understanding instead."
Perhaps Myrna Kostash best exemplified what The Way is about. An author and member of Women in Black, she said, "It's a good experience for me to be able to celebrate Good Friday with the people from the Western tradition because I'm from the Eastern tradition.
"I'm very struck by the fact the people on a cold windy morning carried a cross assembled in fellowship on the day that the suffering of Christ is being remembered. We're not at war here in Canada, but our flag is flying in war zones. It's terrifying."