Lou Soulard teared up when she recalled her emotions following the Living Stations of the Cross on Good Friday, April 5, at Lake Eola in downtown Orlando.
“God has done so much for us,” said Soulard, a parishioner of St. James Cathedral in Orlando. “I am so grateful that He died – for me – so that I may have eternal life. Of course, He died for all of us, but I take it personally, because He did it for me. When I see Him carry that cross, I see my sins on that cross.”
Several young adults and children from St. John Vianney Parish in Orlando reenacted the Stations of the Cross in front of 200 people. The parish takes this reenactment to parishes around the Diocese of Orlando, to bring awareness of the passion of Christ to attendees and to motivate young people who are interested in learning more about Jesus Christ and His everyday life. This year, nearly 50 people served as actors or actresses, or on the stage crew. Among those are Father Miguel Gonzalez, parochial administrator at St. John Vianney, and Father Kent Walker, parochial administrator at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in St. Cloud, who share the lector and vocals roles.
Michael Martinez was one of two young men who portrayed Jesus Christ. Now 20 years old, he began participating in the ministry at age 5, as a member of the women and children of Jerusalem. He has also portrayed a guard in the past. Martinez’s older siblings have also participated in the Living Stations of the Cross, and a younger sister, Cristina Martinez, portrayed the Virgin Mary.
“When I look up at God, when I am on the cross, I feel He is giving me the strength to feel a little what Jesus felt,” Martinez said. “I want to try to portray the message to the crowd.”
The reenactment followed the events found in the traditional Stations of the Cross devotion. Among those events, Jesus accepts His cross; falls three times; and receives the assistance of Simon of Cyrene, who helps Jesus carry the cross. The youth also reenacted the Resurrection.
Ivan Olmo, a seminarian at Blessed John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Mass., also attended the re-enactment. He said he attended the Living Stations of the Cross because he wanted to focus on the Lord’s Passion and reflect on what God has given him.
“I was particularly inspired that the Passion was done by youth,” Olmo said. “I wanted to come out and support them, and also have them lead us in the Way of the Cross.”
For Soulard, the prayer experience was one in which she had not seen for several years. She said she was impressed and inspired with the St. John Vianney Parish youth, and recognized that Christ’s passion is an example that God is always there for His people.
“God can do anything,” Soulard said. “He said that He would rise after three days and He did. He never lets us down, and if people are willing to put their faith in Him, especially in times of trouble, He will see you through. He does not send you any more than you can handle.”