Actors portray the Way of the Cross during the 2017 “Via Crucis” in Trenton.  Joe Moore photo

Actors portray the Way of the Cross during the 2017 “Via Crucis” in Trenton.  Joe Moore photo

By Christina Leslie, Correspondent, and Jennifer Mauro, Managing Editor

One word resonates with those who have experienced the annual “Via Crucis” in Trenton.

“I think the whole idea is about community,” said Roberto Hernandez, director of Catholic Charities’ El Centro. “[Spectators] see the Catholic churches out there. We are one community.”

Now in its 20th year, the Trenton-based communities of El Centro – which provides outreach to the Spanish-speaking community – and area parishes including Sacred Heart are once again uniting to manifest their faith on Good Friday. Bringing the community at large together, the annual “Via Crucis” (Way of the Cross) will begin at 9:30 a.m. April 19 in front of Sacred Heart Church, 343 South Broad St.

Those who participate in the tradition are not looking for glory, asserted Father Dennis Apoldite, Sacred Heart Parish pastor.

“They are in it to walk the way that Jesus did and make that a spiritual experience for their neighbor,” he said of the hundreds of actors, crew and participants who traverse the city’s streets while portraying the Stations of the Cross of Jesus Christ. “We go out and serve,” he said. “Everyone should [see it] at least once.”

The procession begins on South Broad Street and traverses side streets to the Holy Cross Church campus on Adeline Street, about 1.5 miles away. Fourteen stops are made along the way, one each to portray each of the 14 Stations of the Cross, which are prayed and explained in both English and Spanish.

“People have great faith and act out the parts,” Father Apoldite said. “Others are so into the prayerfulness of it.”

The Via Crucis is not a static, one-way presentation, but rather an interactive experience involving the entire community, including volunteers and clients from El Centro, who help construct the crosses, and members of Our Lady of the Angels Parish and the Canticos Celestes choir of St. Joseph Parish, both Trenton.

“They bring a truck with music and sing one station to the other, stopping and acting out the stations,” Father Apoldite continued. “People in the neighborhood hear the music and come out to see what’s going on. The community, Catholic or not, watch it as it goes by. Some [spectators] will join, and at the end you wind up with more participants.”

The bilingual event lasts approximately two hours, and busses are available to transport spectators back to Sacred Heart Church.

The “Via Crucis” and community outreach is invaluable in the city, Hernandez said.

“The more we can do collectively, the better we can be. Universally, that’s what the Church is all about.”