Passion Procession Held in Calais

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A reenactment of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus was held in Calais on Sunday, March 25th as members of various churches in the community recognized the Stations of the Cross. (Photo by Lura Jackson)

By Lura Jackson

 

The streets of Calais were briefly brightened by a colorful procession recounting a somber event during Sunday’s Passion of the Christ event, which stopped to recognize each of the Stations of the Cross. The event, which has been held in previous years, was organized in part through the efforts of the Immaculate Conception Church, though the participants hailed from various churches around the extended community.

The event marked Palm Sunday, which is the start of Holy Week. In scripture, it is the same day that Jesus entered Jerusalem in full knowledge that he would be likely arrested and executed. He was met by children and adults waving palm fronds and singing ‘Hosanna’ (‘save now’). Palm fronds have long been a symbol of goodness and well-being. Not all welcomed the return of Jesus to Jerusalem, however, as demonstrated by Sunday’s presentation.

Approximately 50 participants and spectators traveled together during the procession, beginning at 765 Main Street where Jesus – played by Patrick Corbett – was initially condemned by Pontius Pilate in response to the calls for execution from the crowd. From there, the group went down Main Street, pausing periodically to faithfully recreate the steps of the journey.

At each stop, Tom MacDonald provided narration to the crowd, sharing powerful words that highlighted the meaning of the procession to the associated Christian faiths. At the third station, for instance, where Jesus falls for the first time under the weight of the cross, MacDonald spoke to how it revealed the weakness of the human form and how relief may be found from a higher power. “Jesus… wants us to discover that beyond all emotions of rejection and abandonment there is love, real love, lasting love, love that comes from a God who became flesh and who will never leave his children alone.”

Sunday’s performance was particularly poignant in that Corbett’s actual mother, Sabina, played the part of Mary. She was present to offer him comfort at the fourth station, where MacDonald shared resonating words. “Oppressors come and go, and come again… In the midst of it all, we have to keep choosing the ever-narrowing path, the path of sorrow, the path of hope.”

At Calais Avenue, the procession turned, stopped at the First Congregational Church to hold the crucifixion. Corbett was tied to an already-erected stand where he recreated the death of Jesus. From there, the group traveled to the Immaculate Conception Church, entombing Corbett and, shortly thereafter, celebrating his resurrection. Appropriately, an eagle flew over the crowd as they waited outside the tomb during “the most fruitful silence that the world has ever known.”

For Corbett, the experience was an enjoyable opportunity to get to know the members of the church community better. Speaking on the weight of the cross, Corbett said that while it was heavy, it became easier to bear with the assistance of Simon – referring to the fifth station when a Roman soldier ordered a member of the crowd to help the struggling Jesus continue to Calvary.

The various spectators enjoyed the presentation. “It’s quite a spectacle,” said David Carver. “It was a good experience overall. It’s the kind of stuff that helps you live in the moment.”

 

“We liked it,” said Fred and Jo Becker, who brought an international appreciation to the event. Jo is from the Philippines, a predominantly Catholic country that has a procession every day during Holy Week. The devotion to the faith is so pronounced there that some volunteers are willingly nailed to crosses to demonstrate their belief. For Jo, the major difference between the performances of the Stations of the Cross is that in the Philippines, the daily processions simply stop at the crucifixion. On Easter, a grand recognition of the resurrection is held. “The message is still the same,” she said. “It focuses on Jesus’s sacrifice.”

Playing the role of Jesus during the Passion procession on Palm Sunday was Patrick Corbett of the Immaculate Conception Church. (Photo by Lura Jackson)


The Calais Police Department provided an escort to the procession, while Tom MacDonald gave narration at each station. (Photo by Lura Jackson)