Good Friday procession provides time for teaching, reflection
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The Good Friday re-enactment of the Passion of Christ helped Amberlee and Alyssa Elizondo prepare for the baptismal sacraments they will experience on Easter Sunday.
Amberlee, 8, and her 9-year-old sister, Alyssa, followed the procession down Callis Street on Friday afternoon with their mother, Angela Elizondo, pushing their 2-year-old brother, Ralph, in a stroller. The procession provided an Easter visual to aid in teaching her children more about their faith, said Elizondo, 38, of Victoria.
"I am teaching my children the path to hope and love through Jesus Christ," Elizondo said. "My children will be receiving the baptismal sacraments on Sunday, so this is very meaningful for us."
Alyssa said the procession helped the story of Easter come alive for her.
"It makes me think of when Jesus was put on the cross and struck on the side with a spear," Alyssa said. "Watching the procession today makes me feel welcome to getting to start my new life with Jesus."
The procession started on the steps of Holy Trinity Chapel at 2511 Ozark St. and continued south down Callis Street.
About 300 participants, stretching about a block long across an entire lane of Callis Street, were provided with drinks to keep them hydrated.
Among the crowd members carrying umbrellas to shield themselves from the withering sun, was Dina Gusman, who was supporting her daughter who dressed up for the re-enactment.
"It is my third time watching the procession here," Gusman said. "We do it for the Lord - to remember Jesus and how he passed through hard times. I want to know him more every day."
Crossroads residents dressed as Roman guards yelled orders in Spanish as they goaded the man playing Jesus as he dragged a large wooden cross down Callis Street - amid the prayers and songs of the crowd.
Megan McDaniel, 19, of Victoria, attended the procession for the first time supporting her boyfriend, Sergio Garcia, 18, as he played the role of Christ.
"Everyone gets into it. It is pretty emotional," McDaniel said.
Although she did not understand the Spanish narration, Scripture readings and songs, McDaniel said she was familiar with the story line which helped her follow along.
McDaniel said she has seen the movie "The Passion of the Christ" and skits put on by Parkway Church, but this was her first time seeing such an involved presentation.
"Sergio has already been injured during practice - he hurt his ankle," McDaniel said. "He played a robber last year. He told me he is really excited to play Jesus this year."
The realistic depiction of the passion of Christ included an actor playing Judas Iscariot, hanging from a tree on the corner of Francis and Callis Street.
"Judas turned Jesus in and told the soldiers to arrest him," said Larry Moreno, the 13-year-old who played Judas this year. "Then he felt guilty about what he did and went out and hanged himself."
The Rev. Stan DeBoe of Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church carried the cross for a short distance - relieving Garcia, as Simon the Cyrenian did for Christ during his suffering.
"It seems to be getting bigger every year," said Frank Benavides who was walking with his 1-year-old granddaughter Kelly Arquellez down Mitchell Street. "I think more people are realizing it's not about the eggs anymore."
Irma Vargas, 43, who has participated in the walk for more than 10 years, said it is an Easter tradition for her.
"We walk for Jesus. It's our faith - that is why we participate every year."
Miranda Lopez, 26, was waiting to catch the bus with her 3-year-old daughter, Jay Lopez, at the corner of Callis and Odem streets when the crowd passed by.
"It's Silver City, so when I saw the cop escort, my first thought was, 'Who did it now?" Lopez said.
But when she realized it was an Easter procession to remember the suffering of Christ, she said it made her stop and think.
"I don't think anyone really understands the concept of Easter anymore - how it started or what it means," Lopez said. "Now it is just about buying your children candy and toys."
The procession concluded at the back entrance of Capilla De La Santisima for a depiction of the Crucifixion.
"What is he doing up there?" Montse Maldonado, 4, asked her mother when she saw the actor playing Jesus on the cross.
"He is showing us what Jesus went through on the cross. He is about to die for our sins," her mother Mayra Maldonado, 29, responded. "He is even more tired than we are. He had to carry a cross all that way - and it was heavy."
Then, the final words of Jesus were spoken from high on the cross.
"Padre en tus manos encomiendo mi espíritu," Garcia said from the cross, or translated, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit."
The re-enactment continues Sunday morning when the church will depict the resurrection of Christ.