Group Carries Cross in Pilgrimage
By MARK H. HUNTER
Special to The Advocate
Published: Apr 3, 2010
NEW ROADS ? Darnell Guidroz couldn?t speak after she carried the cross for a few hundred yards on Friday morning.
Guidroz was emotionally overcome after experiencing just a few minutes of what it might have been like for Jesus to carry his cross on that first Good Friday.
None of the nearly 200 pilgrims in the ?Passionate Walk with Jesus? Good Friday procession actually carried the cross because two small wheels were attached to its foot. This replica of Roman execution 10 feet tall and 6 feet wide was made of 4-by-6 timbers and, marchers said, was heavy, cumbersome and painful.
Many pilgrims in the Good Friday procession placed folded towels on their shoulders to cushion the weight as they rolled the cross forward.
?It was so uplifting ? it really brings to life what Jesus did for us,? Guidroz, a resident of Glynn, said after she took a deep breath and wiped away tears. ?Everyone should do this,? Guidroz said.
?I?m glad Jesus did this for me so I didn?t have to,? added Gavin Pennington, 11, of Lakeland, after he carried the cross for several hundred yards along busy La. 1. ?This is just a little bit of what Jesus did on Good Friday,? Pennington said.
?This isn?t about Easter eggs and chocolate,? said Miriam Engemann, after she, too, carried the cross for a few minutes. ?This is about what Jesus did for us.?
Rena Caldwell was walking a few yards behind the cross carrying a small Easter basket filled with of slips of paper. Names were penned on each slip and as they walked, participants prayed aloud for the requests and recited the rosary.
?I feel so blessed to be able to do this at the age of 68,? Caldwell said. ?I?ve done this four of the last five years.?
Drivers of slowly passing log trucks, tanker trucks and pickups honked their horns. Children in passing cars waved and the walkers waved back.
Caldwell was wearing a red T-shirt celebrating the group?s first Passionate Walk With Jesus on Good Friday 2005, while most of the other pilgrims of all ages wore this year?s black T-shirts.
Emblazoned on the back of each 2010 procession shirt was a portrait of Jesus wearing a crown of thorns with the message: ?Will you walk with me??
The Good Friday procession began at 6:30 a.m. at Immaculate Conception Church in Lakeland and proceeded on La. 1 for 11 miles around False River?s oxbow until it disbanded in the afternoon at St. Mary of False River Catholic Church.
The large cross was always at the front of the procession, while in the rear, men and women carried a smaller crucifix and a large wooden rosary, its beads the size of softballs, all linked with chain. The weighty rosary was carried by a dozen walkers.
Along the way, about every mile or so, the procession would halt at a lakeside residence to celebrate one of the 14 Stations of the Cross. While a loudspeaker would carry that particular site?s reading, participants would sit under shade trees and drink from frosty bottles of water from a nearby flatbed trailer.
Those who ran low on energy could climb aboard an air-conditioned van.
Pointe Coupee sheriff?s patrol cars with lights flashing cruised along with the slow-moving procession to provide safety to the walkers.
Jimmy Carrier, of Plaquemine, carried the cross early in the procession, just as the sun was coming up.
?It was cool and relaxing,? Carrier said. ?It felt spectacular to be doing what I was doing, realizing what Jesus did for us many, many years ago.?
Chris David, one of the original participants, added, ?You can feel the Spirit in the breeze,? as the freshly unfolding leaves on nearby trees rustled in the wind.
As a bank of clouds gathering over the choppy lake slid across the sun, Sherry Jewel, another five-time participant, put it this way: ?God has blessed us.?
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On Good Friday, April 6th a little over 200 people gathered at Immaculate Conception in Lakeland at 6:30 a.m. for the Second Annual "Passionate Walk with Jesus". After a prayer service held by Rev. Greg Daigle, the walkers began their 11.2 mile journey to remember the Passion of Our Lord.
Along the walk they spent the day meditating on the Stations of the Cross, prayer, reflection, praise, worship, and carrying the cross and rosary. Stops were made approximately every eight-tenths of a mile to pray the Stations of the Cross, short breaks, and have lunch.
The walkers varied in ages, with the youngest being six and the oldest 77 years of age. Parishioners from the surrounding churches of St. Mary's (New Roads), Immaculate Conception (Lakeland), St. Augustine (New Roads), St. Ann (Morganza), St. Francis Cabrini (Livonia) and participants from Port Allen, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Gonzales, Prairieville, and Dutchtown were among the 200 that participated.
The walk concluded at St. Mary's, where a 3:00 pm Good Friday Service was held by Rev. Bob Stein.
Organizers, Connie Carrier and Cindy Doucet, were very touched by the determination, dedication and spirituality of the walkers.
WALKERS SHARE THEIR FEELINGS:
"It was even better than the first year. I was very inspired and touched by the people participating."
"I feel so blessed to live in such a wonderful Catholic community."
"It gave me such a good feeling to pick up the cross and do something that Jesus had done for us."
"It makes you feel so good siritually."
"It was the least I could do for Jesus because of how much he did for us. Carring the cross was difficult for just a short distance, imagine what it was like for Him."
"It was very emotional. I'm glad I did it."
"I did get tired, but when I looked up at that cross, I got allmy strenght back. It was my second year and I'll do it again!"
"It was such a wonderful time of sharing with fellow parishoners."
"I wasn't sure I could physically do the walk, but I had no problems. I felt blessed to be a part."
"Very enlightening - very spiritualistic for me."
"This year was a more solemn occasion. It was more prayerful. I shared my day with friends and with Jesus - the sest of everything! I felt closer to Jesus."
"I loved it! I hope to be a part of this wonderful spiritual occasion again next year."