ST. GEORGE- Late Friday morning, more than 150 believers gathered at Sandtown Park in St. George for the annual Stations of the Cross event for the first time since 2019.
The event is usually held on Good Friday in the Christian Lent season to commemorate the journey of Jesus Christ on the day of his crucifixion over 2,000 years ago.
The Stations of the Cross, also known as the Stations of the Cross, is observed by Roman Catholics around the world and traces the path taken by Jesus Christ through Jerusalem to his crucifixion and subsequent resurrection. In St. George, it has become an interfaith event shared among Christians in the area for 16 years.
2019 was the last time the event was held outdoors due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. There was no procession in 2020 and a virtual Stations of the Cross event was streamed online from St. George’s Catholic Church in 2021.
“It’s wonderful,” Father Dave Bittmenn said of the possibility of reliving the event outdoors. He came to St. George shortly before the pandemic hit and was unable to participate in the way the event usually unfolded in the community.
As people gathered at Sandtown Park, the procession officially began at the corner of 700 North and Diagonal Street. Each station was marked with a small painting on a stand that depicted some aspect of Christ’s journey to his own crucifixion.
Bittmenn was the first to read scripture passages detailing what Christ experienced at the first station. The reading was accompanied by a short prayer, followed by the assembled people who began to sing lines from the anthem “Were You There”. The cross was then carried to the next station, with the chanting continuing between each stop as the process of readings and prayers was repeated along the way.
Readers at 11 of the 14 stations this year featured ministers and representatives of the St. George Interfaith Council, as well as a member of the Baha’i Faith who participated in the event.
“For us, this is especially unique,” said Tim Martin, a Latter-day Saint member of the St. George Interfaith Council. “It’s an ecumenical and very unique way of the cross that all of these religions are part of the walk.”
The St. George Interfaith Council brings together diverse Christian and non-Christian denominations for the benefit of those denominations and the community as a whole, as it seeks to foster a spirit of unity and cooperation while respecting the diversity of beliefs between them. St. George’s Catholic Church and other Christian denominations are represented on the council, along with representatives of the Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and Baha’i faiths.
Reverend Jimi Kestin, of Solomon’s Porch Foursquare Fellowship, repeated words shared with St. George News in 2019 that he believes the inclusion of other Christian denominations in the Stations of the Cross is unique to St. George and a example of the brotherhood valued among the region’s interfaith community.
Roman Catholics aren’t the only ones who believe in the religious traditions behind Easter and the events that preceded it, Bittmenn said, adding he was happy to see other believers join in the procession.
“It’s not like Catholics are the only ones who believe in the cross, Christ’s death and resurrection,” he said. “It’s just a way to celebrate everyone’s beliefs.”
The procession continued on Diagonal Street to 200 West. From there, the crowd headed south and eventually ended up in the west parking lot of St. George’s Catholic Church.
“It’s very special for the whole community and very special to be detached from all our brothers and sisters of (other) Christian denominations,” said Jose Hernosillo, a member of the Catholic faith, at the end of the event.
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