At St. Agnes School in Bloomsdale, Jesus — as portrayed by a fourth-grade student — carried the cross before eventually being nailed to it, dying and being placed in the burial place.
Lent and Holy Week are opportunities for Catholic schools to deepen students’ faith, and one way is through Living Stations of the Cross. On March 30, the fourth-graders at the school in Ste. Genevieve County re-enacted the moving play based on the Passion of Jesus Christ, first performed before other students and teachers and then again with parents and parishioners in attendance.
Father Michael Benz, parish pastor, praised the hard work of the students to prepare for the presentation. And it paid off, he said.
“It shows a great amount of reverence and respect for the meaning of the season,” he observed.
Donna Rocca, fourth-grade teacher, explained that she had seen a similar effort at St. Joseph School in Imperial. “It brings kids closer to the Stations of the Cross,” she said. “It’s so incredibly moving.”
The students showed their love and adoration for Jesus by bringing to life the history of salvation through their powerful interpretation, one in which Rocca used a combination of sources to create. The church fell silent at one station when all were asked to kneel in prayer in consideration of what Jesus has done for everyone.
Levi Fallert was one of two students with the role of Jesus. He admitted to being nervous, but he and the other fourth-graders came through without a hitch. Being part of the Living Stations of the Cross helped him reflect on Jesus “and what He’s done for us,” Levi said. “He went through a lot more than I thought He did. He died for us, and He just changed the world.”
Four seventh-graders also took part, singing or narrating. Their teacher, Lesley Lalumondier, sat in a pew nodding in approval of their efforts. Addison Shuh, one of the narrators, said the words and actions led her to consider again why Jesus underwent the torment and “reminded me of how thankful I am that He did this for me.”
The other narrator, Ava Bauman, said she appreciates that her parents sent her to a Catholic school “to learn about Jesus and have a better understanding of Him. He did a really important thing for us. Without that, we wouldn’t be living with Christ and we wouldn’t have eternal life.”
She called the role of narrator an opportunity for her to “really think of how much He did for us when He took up the cross.”
After each station, two vocalists, Adyson Rayoum and Lydia Brown, sang a modified version of “Were You There,” a spiritual from Old Plantation Hymns, to match the stations. Adyson was hesitant at first to sing in front of so many people, but “I’m glad I did because I thought I could make that sacrifice because Jesus died on the cross for us,” she said.
Adyson said attending a Catholic school “has definitely made an impact on my life.”
Lydia said she too appreciates “giving back a little bit of what Jesus has done for us.” She was a little scared when asked to sing in front of so many people, she said, but “I agreed to it because I think it’s special that Jesus gave me this voice and it’s important to praise Him.”
>> Stations of the Cross
The Stations of the Cross, also known as the Way of the Cross or Via Crucis, commemorate Jesus’ Passion and death on the cross. There are 14 stations that each depict a moment on His journey to Calvary, usually through sacred art, prayers, and reflections. The practice began as pious pilgrims traced His path through Jerusalem on the Via Dolorosa.
Later, for the many who wanted to pass along the same route, but could not make the trip to Jerusalem, a practice developed that eventually took the form of the 14 stations currently found in almost every church throughout the world. Similarly, the 150 Hail Marys that were recited for the Rosary were an adaptation of the medieval monastic practice of reciting the 150 psalms in the Psalter.
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops