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Catholics get creative in offering Stations of the Cross during Holy Week

With Holy Week approaching, Mark and Stephanie Hampton of St. Monica Parish wanted to do something to stay connected to their parish. After all, it’s the most important week in the life of the Church, marking the passion, death and resurrection of our Lord.

Many parishes typically hold Stations of the Cross in church during Lent and especially during Holy Week. But with a stay-at-home order in place across Missouri because of the coronavirus outbreak, the Hamptons decided they’d organize something a little different this year at their Creve Coeur parish — a drive-by Stations of the Cross.

The couple worked with their pastor, Father Joseph Weber, and rounded up parishioners in the neighborhood to volunteer their front yards. Each house has a laminated image of a station posted in the yard, with the 14th and final station ending at St. Monica. A map and QR code with the route of the stations is posted outside the church’s main entrance, on the northeast corner of the church grounds. The stations will be available for viewing this week through Good Friday.

“One of the things I have heard from people is that lack of being able to see the (parish) community” in person, Father Weber said. Catholics have been participating in livestreamed Masses, prayer, and faith-sharing groups. But it’s difficult to not be with one another physically, especially during Holy Week, he said.

Stephanie Hampton said she was inspired by a message on the parish’s outdoor marquee, which stated, “Faith over fear.”

“That sense of community is so crucial, especially right now in this time we’re going through,” she said. “Faith conquers all.”

The Hamptons, parishioners at St. Monica for four years, were involved in starting the parish’s young adult group. Stephanie Hampton teaches eighth-grade PSR and Mark Hampton serves on the parish council. The couple has an 11-month old daughter, Holly, whose premature birth was the subject of a video that earned a runner-up recognition in the archdiocesan Pro-Life Video Challenge last October.

“We still wanted to connect with people and help build our parish community,” Mark Hampton said. “It’s times like this that we need this.”

Stations of the Cross online

Elsewhere in the archdiocese, several music and campus ministers are working on two separate multimedia projects featuring the Stations of the Cross. Both will debut on Good Friday, April 10.

Stations of Hope is a virtual experience of the Stations of the Cross through meditation and music. The video will debut at 12:01 a.m. the morning of Good Friday at stationsofhope.org. The project brings together the musical talents of Cathy Pescarino, creative arts director at Assumption Parish in O’Fallon; Bryan Beams, director of liturgy and music at Immaculate Heart of Mary in New Melle; Connor Steinhart, music minister at Ascension in Chesterfield and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in St. Charles; and musicians Mya Bryant and Matthew Hinkle of Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Pescarino, a former youth minister, had led a multi-sensory Stations of the Cross with Assumption parishioners for several years during Holy Week. Knowing that parishioners would not be able to gather in person because of the stay-at-home order, Pescarino prayed about offering some kind of alternative. She’d heard a radio interview with Catholic musician Matt Maher in which he spoke about grieving the loss of his father, and how he found signs of hope through listening to praise and worship music.

The video is centered on five themes, set with music and featuring images and video of the sculpture Stations of the Cross at the Cloisters on the Platte, a Jesuit retreat center in Omaha, Nebraska.

“We wanted to involved music in a big way,” Pescarino said. “Each reflection is a summation of what’s going on with the various stations. It’s an experience people can click to watch as much a they want or at more than one sitting. We wanted it to be a multimedia audio and visual experience that moves people through beauty with music and visuals.”

Beams of Immaculate Heart of Mary said that with new restrictions and changes to everyone’s daily lives, it’s been amazing to see people come together — online, of course — to work on this project. “We’ve really seen God’s hand in this and it’s been pretty amazing to watch.”

Campus ministers at Catholic high schools across the archdiocese also have come together to produce a virtual Stations of the Cross, which also will be posted online around noon on Good Friday. The video will be posted on participating high schools’ social media accounts, as well as the St. Louis Review’s Facebook page.

Brian Gilmore, campus minister and theology teacher at Saint Louis University High School, and his wife, Megan, director of communications and marketing at St. Dominic High School in O’Fallon, reached out 26 Catholic high schools in the St. Louis Archdiocese, and received a positive response from all of them.

The video, which is about 25 minutes long, incorporates a scriptural-based Stations of the Cross that St. John Paul II used on Good Friday in 1991, which Brian Gilmore said is a different approach from traditional stations. A representative from each high school will read parts of the stations; the Gilmores also arranged with several musicians to record parts for several hymns that will be featured in the video.

The video has been an opportunity for Catholic high schools to come together and collaborate in a way that they haven’t before. “It was important to me that if we did this, that everyone be represented,” Megan Gilmore said. “I am really grateful for the response we’ve gotten. It’s been both people that we know and people we’ve never met before. They’re just jumping in and sharing their gifts.

“Holy Week is such an important part of our faith, and it’s something bigger than ourselves,” she said. “To be able to reach across to other schools in all these different communities was really special.”

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Catholics get creative in offering Stations of the Cross during Holy Week 5184

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