Hundreds embrace their faith at Living Stations of the Cross
"I think it's a special way to unite with Christ's suffering on the cross," said Michelle Allain of Manchester. "It's always very moving."
Kids jockeyed for good viewing spots, kneeling up front while believers young and old captured photos on their cellphones.
Members of the youth ministry at Ste. Marie Parish in Manchester performed the 90-minute Living Stations of the Cross, winding through the cemetery and culminating with the crucifixion of Christ, whom Christians believe is the son of God.
Brian McCormack, 15, of Dunbarton said interested teens put their names in a hat for various roles.
"We prayed over the hat to ask the Holy Spirit to pick the man most humble to become Jesus," said McCormack, who was chosen for the role of Jesus. "I am so humbled to be Jesus."
Eighteen performers walked the 14 Stations of the Cross, including Michaela Donovan, 17, of Deerfield, who performed the role of Mary, the mother of Jesus.
"It's a real honor to play our blessed mother because she went through so much," Donovan said prior to the reenactment. Afterward, she said: "I hope everyone sees the stations as God wanted them to."
Cemetery superintendent Kevin Cody said the Good Friday event has been held annually for more than 20 years, typically drawing between 600 and 1,000 people. "It's popular because of our faith community," Cody said. "We really want to remember the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Sue Mudd of Manchester said the performance "makes real what Jesus did for us."
Mudd's friend, Gina Andronico, said reading the Bible and walking the stations create different experiences. "It's the difference between a book and a movie," she said.
Mudd said the reenactment enhances Jesus's story. "It's more touching when you see it and feel it deeper down."
David Garcia, who has been attending since before his 12-year-old daughter Vanessa was born, said the event brings out the true meaning of what Jesus did for mankind.
"Without his death and resurrection, the gates of heaven wouldn't be open to us," he said. "It really brings it closer."
Gladys Curtis of Enfield walks the living stations every year. This year, 18 family members attended, including her grandson, Corey Hubbard, the narrator, who turned 16 years old on Friday.
"It fulfills our faith," she said. "I think it gets better every year."