By Dominique Johnson
Holy Week usually is celebrated with large church gatherings to commemorate Christ’s passion. This year, due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Masses that are usually full were celebrated privately and livestreamed online. One parishioner at St. Gregory Nazianzen parish, got creative to help bring the community together while practicing social distancing.
Inspired by bear hunts, where citizens placed stuffed animals in their windows as an activity for children, Angie DelMoral applied the same concept for Good Friday Stations of the Cross. DelMoral typically serves her parish as a sacristan and assists with decorating the church for significant holy days. With public celebrations for Holy Week, she wanted to find a way to celebrate the faith and bring people together. “The stations of the cross on Good Friday are a ritual and I was happy to continue the tradition,” she said.
DelMoral shared her idea with Father Dwight Hoeberechts, who approved the event if people practiced social distancing and stayed in their cars and homes. After getting the go-ahead, DelMoral asked parishioners if they were interested in participating. “I sent out a text and immediately everyone responded yes,” DelMoral said.
Thirteen households participated in the driving stations of the cross. The 12th station was hosted by the parish and was located at the crucifix accessible in the church’s parking lot. For the remaining stations, parishioners created or printed artwork of their assigned station and placed them in their window.
DelMoral coordinated the route, so the stations and houses flowed from one to the next and the addresses were shared among parishioners on social media and the parish website. The route took about an hour to complete while stopping and reflecting on each station.
Making the drive was, in a way, a pilgrimage DelMoral shared and though people were socially distancing, there was a sense of community. “As you were making your way, you would see parishioners in their cars or their windows. You were able to make that connection and it was really meaningful,” she said.
DelMoral recalled how while she was driving to the store, she saw one of the stations in a family’s window and it moved her to tears. “I saw the hand-drawn image in the window and I just envisioned that family with their children making that together.”
Holy Week celebrations are important to the faith and being able to honor the solemnity of Good Friday, while at a distance made an impact on DelMoral and St. Gregory parishioners. Not being able to come together for Mass had been hard for many people DelMoral said, “Everyone felt hungry for something,” and being able to drive the stations of the cross “gave us the sense of feeling well-fed.”