With devotional practices shifted to a home-based exercise, the Lenten tradition of praying the Stations of the Cross is no exception. But Catholics of the Diocese of Trenton have a unique opportunity to follow the prayers along with a familiar diocesan community.

In a YouTube video produced by MaryBeth DeBlasio, campus minister and head of the religion department in Donovan Catholic High School, Toms River, and her students, the Stations of the Cross are now available online – complete with prayer meditations read aloud by Father G. Scott Shaffer, pastor of St. Joseph Parish, Toms River.

“I am so blessed to have the creative force [of] MaryBeth DeBlasio, who consistently comes up with new and unique ways to bring the Good News to her students, our parishioners and anyone who is open,” Father Shaffer said of the parishioner he has known for nearly 30 years.

“Praying the Stations of the Cross is a devotional practice that has evolved over time,” Father Shaffer explained in the video introduction. “In the early Church, pilgrims journeyed to the holy places that marked Jesus’ way to the Cross. In the 16th century, this practice became officially known as the Via Dolorosa, or The Way of Sorrows. In this year of 2020, we pray The Way of the Cross as pilgrims who live in a time of global suffering.”

Father Shaffer noted that Mary Holler – Donovan Catholic senior, campus ministry team member and religion department teaching assistant, compiled the slides for the video, and alumna Kate Uffer helped fuse together various layers of the project.

“Father Scott and I worked on the script together,” DeBlasio added. “Mary Holler and I brainstormed who we would pray for at each Station. But really the Holy Spirit is the origin of all creativity.”

“Gina Corraro, our extremely talented parish music minister, laid the haunting underlying music throughout,” Father Shaffer continued. “Harold Frazee, our multi-talented band director, recorded both my voiceover in our recording studio and the music in our church.”

The devotion lasts about 22 minutes total and includes reflections that respond directly to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“At this time, over 17,000 people have died of this pandemic,” Father Shaffer notes in the prayer of the 12th Station. “For safety reasons, many have died without their loved ones by their side. To have one who is loved die alone is painful; it is heart wrenching. Lord, be with all those who die without a family member present today. Help us all to remember that we are never alone.”

To pray along with the video, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7mynBLSUad8&feature=youtu.be