For Edel Sangster, this year’s Procession of the Cross in Leduc was an opportunity for public witness of her faith.
As the Good Friday event was wrapping up at the Leduc Civic Centre, Sangster had an encounter with a
young girl curious about the cross she was carrying.
“She just happened to be walking by with her father and she looked at the cross and asked ‘Who is
that?’,” Sangster said.
“I got to get down on a level with her and I was able to tell her about Jesus. That moved me so much. It shows why this is needed. We need those symbols, for people to see what it is we are doing.”
The procession in Leduc was only one of several similar events held in the Edmonton Archdiocese April 19. They are modelled after the popular Christian devotional that marks Jesus’ last hours before his crucifixion.
In Edmonton, more than 200 people participated in the ecumenical Outdoor Way of the Cross through the city’s downtown.
The route took people past makeshift tents of Edmonton’s inner city, showing the city’s poverty first-hand.
Each stop included a reflection on issues of social injustice. Monica Nino, the western Canada representative for Development and Peace, urged people to remember refugees and migrants fleeing poverty and persecution worldwide.
Further south, more than 200 people participated in the third annual Good Friday Walk of the Cross from St. Agnes to St. Anthony parishes.
And in Leduc, the procession had its largest turnout with more than 175 people participating, said organizer David Rantucci.
While most were parishioners from the St. Michael’s Catholic Parish, other faith communities of Leduc were also invited.
“I get nervous sometimes. Is it just going to be me walking alone with a giant cross?” Rantucci said with a laugh.
“But people keep coming so they must enjoy it. Our first year we had 80 people and now we’re up to 170. It’s great to see and to make that impact in the city, to see the cross and see that people care about Jesus and are out walking and showing that.”
At each stop, participants reflected on the work of social agencies, including the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission (AADAC), as well as the LINX Centre and the Leduc Community Living Association which serve people with developmental disabilities.
Mandy Rantucci, a teacher at St. Benedict School in Leduc, said highlighting the work of these organizations is a way to model Christ amongst each other.
“It’s about seeing what we can do to bring good to our community, and also recognizing the good Jesus is doing for all of us and when he died for us,” she said.
Rev. Silvichan Dominic, the pastor at St. Michael’s Parish, agrees that this emphasis on the charitable organizations is an important reflection for Catholics.
“We must do as Jesus did,” he said. “He healed the sick; he was there. It’s a reminder for all of us that there are opportunities here in Leduc to connect with the poor, the needy, and at the same time it helps us to connect with our faith.”
Many of the children of St. Michael’s Parish also got actively involved, carrying the cross from the AADAC building to the Leduc Community Living Association, and then again from the Leduc Hub Association – an emergency shelter – to the Leduc Civic Centre.
Nikki Sereda helped lead a five-block stretch of the procession, along with other young Catholics. She said the pain was starting to wear on her shoulders by the time they made it to the Leduc Civic Centre, but it felt good to carry the cross.
Anthony Murdock, who recently moved from Calgary to Leduc, brought his four children to the procession. He sees it as an effective way of teaching the Gospel to the younger generation.
“It puts some physical action to the words of the Gospel, which helps them with their faith and understanding what happened at Easter,” said Murdock.
Sangster has attended all six of Leduc’s Procession of the Cross events. She said she’s grateful that the walk continues to bring new faces, even in the years when they are hit with snow and rain.
For her, the event is growing not only because of word of mouth, but because of a growing need for Christians to stand up for their beliefs.
“I think with the signs of times, we need to unite ourselves and we need to stand for what we believe in,” said Sangster.
“There’s definitely people from our parish that haven’t been before and that touches my heart.”