Photo by Maria-Jose Subiria
Jesus of Nazareth, portrayed by Jesus Santos (center), is assisted by two Roman soldiers, portrayed by Gaspar Morales (left) and Federico Peree.
By Valerie Baldowski
Local worshippers gathered at churches across the Southern Crescent Friday afternoon, to observe an integral part of their faith.
During Stations of the Cross services in Henry and Clayton counties, the faithful reflected on Jesus' final journey to Calvary and the crucifixion.
Steve Puster, of McDonough, said he took time off from work to attend the service at St. James the Apostle Catholic Church in McDonough.
"This is Good Friday," he said. "This is the very least we can do, considering what Christ did for us. He died for our sins, and this is a way to commemorate that, and let Him know we've not forgotten Him.
"Everyone gets something different out of it. Personally, I feel a connection with what He went through, and what He did for us."
Father John Murphy began the service at St. James the Apostle in the front of the sanctuary, but soon began moving from station to station, pausing at each one to participate in a responsive reading with the congregation. The congregation turned as one to face him as he stopped at each station.
"Jesus died on the cross for my sins, and I felt like I needed to worship Him and thank Him for what He did," said Edna Norton, of McDonough.
She said taking part in Holy Week services is an important part of her faith.
"It's my duty to do it," Norton said. "Jesus suffered for us, and I wanted to show respect for Him and let Him know how much [that] means to me."
Saint Philip Benizi Catholic Church in Jonesboro observed Good Friday, in part, with a "Living Stations of the Cross" event in Spanish.
While going through the 14 Stations of the Cross, approximately 50 actors participated in the reenactment of the passion of Jesus Christ, according to Friar Abelardo Huanca.
"The Stations of the Cross is not simply a remembrance of sad causes ... it is also an act of mercy and love," said Huanca.
Through theater, dramatic music and prayer, the actors portrayed the Stations of the Cross to a crowd of approximately 200 worshippers.
Jesus Santos, the actor who portrayed Jesus of Nazareth during the event, said this is his second year playing the role, though he has participated in the reenactment for six years.
"It is very difficult to explain the emotion of the feeling, of what Jesus went through," Santos said as he was entering the church in costume.
Kristina Larsen, a Rex resident, said she attended the "Living Stations of the Cross" event because she believes it is a way to commemorate what Jesus experienced before and after he was crucified.
"Good Friday doesn't mean anything, unless you remember what happened," said Larsen.
For those of the Catholic faith, participation in Good Friday services is a vital part of their spiritual lives, said Meg Atkinson, the parish life coordinator at St. James the Apostle Catholic Church.
"It helps us unite ourselves with His suffering, and helps us put ourselves in that scene," Atkinson said. "It helps to remind us that we all have our own crosses in our daily lives."
The Stations of the Cross symbolize Christ's forgiveness of mankind's sins, Atkinson added. "It's a reminder that we should do the same."
Staff writer Maria-Jose Subiria contributed to this article.