College Students Bring Stations Of Cross To Life
Published: March 20, 2008
Southern Catholic College, Dawsonville, stages a vivid living Stations of the Cross on Friday, March 14. Jesus (Jaxon Andronaco) ascends the hill to the place of his crucifixion as the crowd follows from behind. Andronaco is a Southern Catholic sophomore from Marietta. (Photos by Michael Alexander)
DAWSONVILLE—Two golfers braving the rainy weather at Gold Creek Golf Club stopped their golf cart and looked on with curiosity as Jesus was nailed to the cross.
They were unexpectedly witnessing the living Stations of the Cross, as Southern Catholic College students in costume and in somber reflection acted out each moment of the Lenten remembrance March 14 on the neighboring campus.
This was the second year the event was held on campus, and students and faculty hope it is something that will continue to bring the Passion of Jesus to the forefront during Lent.
Living Stations of the Cross began on campus last year with the encouragement of junior Cayetano Garcia, who first witnessed a similar presentation when he was a parishioner at St. Joseph Church, Dalton, and later participated in one with St. Francis of Assisi Church, Cartersville.
Garcia felt it was important to bring that experience to his school, and the other students agreed. This year the production was put on entirely by the students, from arranging practices to creating and sewing their own costumes. Garcia also wanted to get the younger students involved so they can carry the tradition on after he graduates.
The crowd gathers during the living Stations of the Cross as Jesus is condemned to death.
While last year Garcia had a major role of portraying Jesus in the production, he stayed behind the scenes this year, helping others into their costumes and directing the participants as they walked to different Stations on campus.
The students practiced once a week for about a month leading up to the presentation and then every day during the week of the performance.
As several students gathered in the college’s Student Affairs building to don costumes and makeup, others waited outside the building for the Stations to begin.
Huddled under a building overhang, the group of students, parents and parishioners from nearby churches prepared to get a little wet in order to witness this unique event.
While some may have seen the increasing rainfall as bad weather for an outdoor event, those present for the living Stations of the Cross felt the rain helped set the mood for the somber remembrance of Christ’s Passion.
“The rain was fitting,” said sophomore Jaxon Andronaco, who played Jesus. “It made it more somber.”
After Jesus is nailed to the cross, the soldiers lift him up for all to see.
Father Brian Higgins, chaplain at the college, led the assembly in prayer before the students began.
“May their reenactment bring us closer to Christ and his Passion,” the priest said.
The Stations began in front of the Student Affairs building, where Jesus was condemned to death. Following the first Station, a very convincing Roman soldier led Jesus to be scourged. The soldier pushed Jesus down to his knees and picked up a whip. At the first blow, a splatter of what appeared to be blood marked the wounds of Jesus. A collective gasp was heard as the soldier continued with the scourging, giving those present the feeling that they were actually witnessing Christ’s suffering.
“It really feels like you’re participating in the Passion,” said student Patrick Williams.
The crowd then moved out into the rain as Jesus picked up his cross and began the journey to his crucifixion. The downpour intensified with each Station until the re-enactors and the assembly climbed a hill where the final few Stations were recreated.
Mary (Jennilee Foreman), center, holds the body of Jesus after he is taken down from the cross. She is accompanied by Mary Magdelene (Erena Hintsa) and John the Apostle (Sonny Ramirez).
The Roman soldiers mocked Jesus as he climbed the hill, calling him “pathetic” and affirming that Jesus was “wasting their time.”
Jesus was laid down on the cross as the soldiers simulated hammering nails into his wrists. In one of the most effective scenes, the soldiers raised up the cross and Jesus said his final words in his native tongue of Aramaic.
“Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani,” cried out Jesus, played by Andronaco, as he let out a convincing cry of pain.
The rain continued as he portrayed the death of Jesus and was taken from the cross to be laid in a tomb.
Afterward, smiles quickly returned as the students embraced their friends who participated in the living Stations. Many walked back to the Student Affairs building to enjoy hot chocolate and coffee and begin the process of getting dry again.
“A reenactment like this shows me the faith of these students,” said Father Higgins. “It brings their faith outside of the church.”
“We hope it will be a tradition here at Southern Catholic College,” said Carol Evanco, vice president for student affairs.
During the fifth Station of the Cross Simon of Cyrene (T. J. Clements) helps Jesus (Jaxon Andronaco) carry his cross through the streets as a soldier (Chris Ducote) looks on.