By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
FAIRFIELD — Behind a white curtain, youths got into position with a large prop cross. On the other side, the congregation listened to meditations featuring Jesus’ words and reflections from a youth’s point of view. Then, suddenly, a spotlight’s rays burst through the curtain, silhouetting the scene. Reflective music began, giving the audience a chance to contemplate Jesus’ passion.
Youths repeated the lighting sequence 14 times as they acted out “Stations of the Cross in Silhouette” March 10 at St. Mary Parish, making a strong impression on both the audience and the youths themselves.
“Playing Jesus made my grandma tear up,” said Erik Kaska. Emily McAvan has helped with the production for three years, noting it has a powerful effect on her faith.
It’s a tradition for the youths to manage and act out the stations in this manner each year at the Fairfield parish. They choose roles and rehearse, doing a full run-through the week before the performance. Religious education director Diane Tone considers it her favorite youth ministry project. “The youths take complete ownership of this, managing their props while being very quiet getting into position. They are very solemn in portraying each station.”
The youths utilize a CD from Cornerstone Media to narrate the scene and provide reflective music after each station. A new CD is released every year. Tone noted, “These songs are the popular songs the youths are listening to and most of them know the words by heart! … My hope is that when the youths hear these songs on the radio, they will stop and think about Jesus’ passion and all that he did for us.”
Tone observes that the most emotional station for the youths and the audience is when Jesus is nailed to the cross. After illuminating the scene, the spotlight is turned off and the CD plays the sound of a hammer hitting metal three times.
“It’s very realistic and powerful, as if you are there,” said parishioner Roseann Swink. Parishioner Karen Crossland said the performance helps her understand what it must have been like to witness the crucifixion.
Other adults in the parish said they are proud of the youths for their work on the production each year. Parishioner Tom Urban said, “If this is what our youth can do through this committed passion, the church has a bright future.”