For the 20th consecutive year, the youth of St. Gabriel Parish in Marlboro captured the drama of Jesus’ Death through its Living Stations of the Cross on Good Friday.
St. Gabriel is one of many parishes around the Diocese of Trenton to call upon its youth group or religious education students to perform the Living Stations as part of the parish’s Holy Week or Easter Triduum activities. Marie Masiello, youth minister in St. Gabriel, has been directing the event in their parish for 15 years.
Click HERE for a gallery of photos from the Living Stations.
Masiello said there were many high school seniors leaving the group this year, so she wanted to make this event a special farewell from her to them. Before the Stations began, Masiello gave gifts to all of the departing seniors and thanked each of them personally for their contribution to St. Gabriel’s Youth Ministry. In all there were nine seniors in the cast.
She said the Living Stations is the ideal way to say good-bye.
“I’ve always said the Stations are more than just the Stations,” she said before the performance began. “As you go through each Station you can deal with anything that comes through life.”
The process of preparing for the Living Stations is one of both enjoyment and reflection for the youth. “Through practice you have a little fun, then at dress rehearsal you focus on what the meaning is,” said Lauren Mosley, who played the role of Mary, Mother of Jesus.
Once the anticipation was over, at 8 p.m. on Good Friday, the St. Gabriel Parish youth group entered a completely darkened church in first century style tunics. While sitting in the dark the audience heard the narrator’s voice inviting them to witness Christ’s way to the Cross.
“In order to share in Christ’s risen life we must also share in his suffering and Death,” said the narrator, Maria Sparapani, as the Stations began.
When the lights turned on the audience saw the first Station, Pontius Pilate pointing at Jesus, condemning him to death.
“[Initially] I felt bad, because I’m playing the killer of Jesus,” said Dan Normandia, who played the role of Pontius Pilate. “But essentially you’re playing someone who’s been chosen since the beginning of time. As I reflect deeper on it I begin to realize that’s it’s not so much about feeling bad. It’s more like I wonder what he (Pontius Pilate) felt.”
Each Station was set up on the altar, and as a spotlight shined on the Living Stations a shadow of the Station covered the wall behind the altar.
Each Station also had its own song. When Jesus fell the first time, they played “What if I Stumble” by the band DC Talk, and when Simon helped Jesus carry the Cross the audience heard The Pretenders’ “I’ll stand by you.”
“It’s a really humbling experience,” said Brian Cali, who played the role of Jesus, “imagining what Jesus went through, especially when he dies.”
He said as he held up the cross with his arms he thought of the nails that pierced Jesus’ body, and standing still while holding up the Cross gave him a chance to really reflect on Christ’s Crucifixion.
As they buried Jesus, the weeping women knelt by the tomb and Mary placed roses over his body. Once his body was shrouded the lights went out and the stations ended.
“I think it was very well done,” said Mary O’Carroll, parishioner of St. Gabriel who attended the event. She said she has seen the Stations a few times before and is impressed each time. “It’s hard for them to be so still.”[[In-content Ad]]