Three churches join publicly in ecumenical Stations of the Cross
By Josh Tng
Photo Caption: Parishioners participate in the Stations of the Cross in Agassiz (Josh Tng / The B.C. Catholic)
In the small community of Agassiz, three Christian denominations gathered on Good Friday to share their faith.
Parishioners from Agassiz’s St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church, All Saints Anglican Church, and the United Church of Canada set out to pray the Stations of the Cross throughout the town.
“This is an opportunity for the faith community to walk together and to worship and be together,” said Father Steny Mascarenhas, OCD, pastor of St. Anthony’s. “With such a small community, we cannot be building walls, but bridges.”
More than 40 attendees gathered that morning to walk throughout the town, following volunteers who carried a large wooden cross. The group publically prayed at several designated stations throughout the community.
“We walked through the city and stopped to pray at places that symbolize the ways Jesus still suffers in his body,” Father Mascarenhas said. “Besides empathizing with and praying for those who suffer in the world, we as Christians have an obligation to relieve their suffering.”
The publicity of the event offered a variety of opportunities, said Father Mascarenhas. “The feeling from making the Way of the Cross varies for me each year,” he said. “One man, eager to carry to cross for a while, told me it was his best spiritual experience in a long time.”
He noted the act of publically walking throughout the town allowed the group to show their faith and roles as Christ’s representatives. “A prayer of St. Teresa of Avila makes a great point: ‘Christ has no body but ours,’” said Father Mascarenhas. “‘No hands, no feet on earth but ours. Ours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world.’”
Although this was the first public celebration of the Stations of the Cross by the three churches, the Agassiz denominations have worked together previously on ecumenical events. A soup and bun Lenten service organized by St. Anthony and All Saints raised money for the Agassiz-Harrison Ministerial Association to provide post-secondary education bursaries to local Christian youth.
“We have been participating together as Christians for a number of years,” said Reverend Dave Price, the vicar of All Saints. “The Good Friday walk is a logical extension of us as a Christian people. There’s a lot more that unites us than separates us.”
Rev. Price appreciated the ecumenism of the event. “I think it’s important especially that we mainline churches are joined together. It makes a statement to the world that Christians care about each other and work together,” he said. “The event is a witness. It’s good to see these three churches walking together in unity.”
The walk also helped build spiritual strength among attendants. “It’s not just the sense of building community,” said Price. Due to Agassiz’s small size, “a lot of people from the different congregations already know each other.”
“This walk gave us the opportunity to be together, witness together, and join together throughout the walk. God is the God of all people. We are trying to make a statement we are all together,” he said. “One God, one planet, one people.”