In March of 2003, Connie walked into our office and began talking about a Good Friday walk that was being done around Gonzales, LA (which is about an hour from here). Her family was from there and she and her sisters were going to walk. She asked if I wanted to go. I was going to be out of town so I couldn't go. On that Monday back at work she came in all excited and was telling us all about it, how much she enjoyed it and how it was such a spiritual experience for her. I didn't give it much thought after that. The next year she came back and asked if I wanted to go. I thought I'd give it a try. Their walk starts at St.Mary's Church in Union, LA on River Road about a mile from the Sunshine Bridge near Donaldsonville, LA. This walk was started by 4 men that began walking on Good Friday from Convent, LA to St. Amant, LA.
It was a hot day in April and I was not prepared. I had wore a pair of loose fitting shorts and tennis shoes not knowing any better since I had never walked any kind of distant walk. The first half of the day wasn't too bad. We made several stops along La. Hwy. 70. for the Stations of the Cross. When I got to carry the cross it was such an awesome experience. My mind raced with thoughts of Jesus carrying His cross badly beaten and He had done it for me and all of us. It gave me a new perspective into his passion. You always think about it, you know what happened but we don't really grasp the magnitude of it. I didn't until I was carrying that cross. By the time we got to St. Anne's in Serrento for lunch my feet were swelling and my tennis shoes were killing my toes. I had been sweating and my shorts kept crawling up and my thighs were rubbing together and getting chapped. I continued on for a couple of more stops. By this time my thighs were bleeding and my toes were so tender and hurting. I decided I had to stop. So I rode in one of the vehicles for the next 2 stops. But I made myself do the last mile. I was in pain but I offered up my suffering for my sins. When we reached the church it was such an awesome feeling to follow that cross as we processed in to fill the church for the 3 o'clock service. I was exhausted when I got home. I couldn't put closed shoes on nor walk with my legs together. I ended up losing several toenails. But it was such an experience I wanted to do it again. After the walk we talked about how beautiful a walk would be along False River. The seed had been planted.
The next year I had heard about a walk in New Orleans, LA. Soles for Christ, sponsored by the Center of Jesus the Lord, it is the traditional New Orleans nine church walk on Good Friday. The Stations of the Cross are portrayed by a live tableau presented by the Emile-Vincent Players. In seven years, the Soles walk has grown to nearly 600 participants. This is a fund raiser for their homeless ministry. In 2005 when we walked there were about 200 walkers. Connie had moved to Dutchtown, La. and the time just wasn't right to have the walk here. I had thought about doing it myself and Connie had offered to help but never got started.
I was better prepared for this walk. I wore capris and sandals that were very comfortable, my thought being not to enclose my toes. I really enjoyed this walk. We walked to nine churches that are in the downtown area. It included Churches that I had always wanted to see, since I love Church architecture, and some I didn't even know about. We had live music for praise and worship as we walked. When we got to our stop the players would set up the scene for the particular station. It really helps the focus seeing the live scene. We carried the cross in groups of six or seven people at a time. This is a much shorter and less strenuous walk about 7 miles. It also allow you to cool off while in the churches. I had no problems doing this walk. Both walks are very spiritual in different ways. This walk is more of an upbeat walk and the St. Amant walk is more of a solemn walk. http://www.centerofjesusthelord.org/soles_for_christ.htm
In August of 2005 Katrina hit. Connie had decided to move back to New Roads. The drive to work every day was getting to her. And that's when we decided to plan our first walk. We are helped by another coworker Shantele. She likes to be known as our silent partner but she is as much a part of this walk as the two of us are. She is a tremendous help and we are sincerely grateful for what she does. We tried to combine some of the best points from each walk and we are still developing it. We had decided that the perfect walk would be from Immaculate Conception Church in Lakeland to St. Mary's in New Roads along False River. It was just made for a walk. To walk and stop along the river is a beautiful gift from God. We went to get the belessing of Fr. Greg Daigle at Immaculate Conception & Fr. Bob Stine, who had just been assigned to St. Mary's from Holy Rosary in St. Amant, the same church where we ended our first walk. God works in mysterious ways. We felt like he would be open to the walk since he came from a church that had one for years and we were right. He has been a true supporter of our walk and without them we couldn't do this. Fr. Bob told us that this being the first year not to expect too many people. The St. Amant walk started out small with 4 men and grew each year. So we asked how many people he thought we could expect the first year. His estimate was about 50. We told him we had expected 75 to 100. So we did all the footwork and were ready for the first Sunday in Lent to present the walk. Connie gave talks at St. Mary's and Immaculate Conception Masses about her experiences.. Registration was slow at first and a week before the deadline we figured we would have about 100 people. But God had other plans. When the final count was in we had over 200 people registered. We had experienced the Gospel story of the multiplication of the loaves. Most of the registration forms came in on the day of the deadline and the first part of Holy Week. As I said we had expected 100 people so we had to double everything we needed to feed and hydrate 200 people in just a couple of days before the walk. But by the grace of God we had volunteers making sandwiches and the people who donated the water and cold drinks stepped up and gave us what we needed. We are forever grateful for them. Of course we had some glitches but our first walk was a huge success. And our second walk was even better. We are looking forward to our next walk. I can't believe this is our ThirteenthYear.
GOD IS GOOD!
I would like to thank Annette & Laura and their families for all their help with cordinating lunch and the trailers. To Duane, my driver, and Sherri for all your help. To all the Group Leaders who help us keep on track, to all the property owners who allow us to stop at their homes, to Riverside Portables, Waterloo Grocery, NRG Louisiana Generating, Langlois Grocery, to our Churches parish office workers for collecting all the forms, the bus drivers, Pointe Coupee Sheriff Deputies, and to all who donate food. If I forgot anyone please forgive me. We thank you all for everyting you do. May God Bless you!
To my spiritual sisters, Connie & Shantele thank you for putting up with me for without you there would be no walk. We make a great team. Love you guys!