By Jeannine M. Pitas
DUBUQUE — A crowd of about 30 gathered in Dubuque recently for “Jesus Crucified Again: A Contemporary Way of the Cross.” These outdoor stations have been led by Dubuque area Catholic Workers every Good Friday since 2014.
On April 14, participants met at a local casino, which was also the first station. While remembering Jesus’ condemnation to death at the hands of Pilate, they prayed for those whose lives have been destroyed by compulsive gambling.
Reflecting on the key events in the passion of Jesus, the crowd, carrying a wooden cross with them, then proceeded to 13 more public sites around the downtown area, most of them places of injustice and suffering, such as the Adult Warehouse, for Station IV — Jesus meets his sorrowful mother, where the group prayed for victims of sex trafficking and all those degraded by the pornography industry.
Some of the stops were at places of hope, like Birthright International (Station X), a nonprofit where free, nonjudgmental guidance is provided to women facing unplanned pregnancies, and St. Patrick Parish Rectory (Station XII), where Spanish-speaking newcomers to the area can find community and receive various forms of practical support.
“I look forward to this Way of the Cross all year long. It is a light at the end of Lent for me,” says Susanna Cantu Gregory, a member of St. Anthony Parish and religion professor at Clarke University who has participated since the beginning. “I remember the chanting, prayers and people we pray for all year long. When I pass these places downtown, I remember what we said at each spot.”
Brenna Cussen Anglada, co-founder of St. Isidore Catholic Worker Farm in Cuba City, Wisconsin, says that she got the idea for these stations from the Catholic Worker community she lived with many years ago in Worcester, Massachusetts. “People want to commemorate Good Friday in a way that is traditional, but also contemporary in its recognition of the ways that Jesus is crucified again and again.”
Cussen Anglada’s husband and fellow Catholic Worker Eric Anglada notes that the stations seek to honor the church’s commitment to a consistent ethic of life. “We want to honor a holistic view of life, human and nonhuman,” he said.
Cantu Gregory, who hails originally from Austin, Texas, and has participated in many outdoor religious processions, agrees. “We are called to bring Christ out of the church building and into the world. By combining devotion with witness, these stations offer a perfect opportunity to do that.”
Rita Reicher, a member of the Social Justice Committee at St. Joseph the Worker Parish, was particularly impressed by the stations’ conclusion at Hope House, where a simple meal of soup and bread was shared. “I had heard about Hope House but had never visited. I was humbled, realizing how much work and time Catholic Workers put in. It was a bright, cheerful place, and the meal was very appropriate for Good Friday.”
“Most of the sins addressed in this Way of the Cross are social,” added Cussen Anglada. “But as individuals can work to remove our support from unjust systems. I love the practice of Lenten fasting, which gives us the chance to work on one issue at a time, perhaps pledging to drink only fair trade coffee, to raise our awareness of the effects our actions have.”
For Cantu Gregory, these stations offer a ray of hope to a troubled world. “This is a time when many are filled with fear or despair, but this is a chance to gather, name those sufferings in the context of the passion of Christ, and leave with faith and hope.”
Participants in the “Contemporary Way of the Cross” pray in Washington Square Park in Dubuque as part of the Good Friday event April 14. (Contributed photo)