Students portray crucifixion St. John's stages 'Living Stations'

April 04, 1993|By Lisa Respers | Lisa Respers,Contributing Writer

A young man, barefoot and dressed in a blue tunic, raised his arms as if to embrace the crowd.

The scene was part of the performance at St. John Catholic School's annual "Living Stations" program on Friday afternoon. Seventh- and eighth-grade students did a live walk through the seven stations of the cross.

The students pantomimed to the words and music of "His Last Days," by Dallas Holme.

Shaun Love, a 14-year-old eighth-grader who portrayed Peter the disciple, began the play by pantomiming the words to a song about the denial of Jesus Christ.

The program is a tradition at the school. It has been performed every Lenten season for the past nine years. Some former students who had participated in the past came to see the play. Even if it meant cutting school.

"I rather you wouldn't write my name," said one teen-age girl. "Just say that I used to go here and that I try not to miss it 'cause it's inspiring."

The purpose of the performance is to teach the students about the love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ as he died for mankind's sins.

"It's something they read and read all the time, but to walk through it makes it more realistic and gives them [the children] a deeper appreciation of the Christian story," said the Rev. David Pietropaoli , an associate pastor at St. John Catholic Church.

"I think that's one of the beautiful things about the kids participating in this," said the Rev. Arthur Valenzano, the new pastor at St. John. "It makes it real for them and that makes their faith become something that's real and meaningful."

Sherilee Maenner, whose 13-year-old daughter Charlee played Veronica, the woman who wipes Christ's face on the way to Calvary, came with video camera in hand.

"I think the 'Living Stations' add more meaning for the children," Mrs. Maenner said. "They get to see it and feel it. I find it very moving and the kids work very hard."

The students practice a few hours a week for a month before the performance.

Kevin Fitch, the 14-year-old eighth-grader who portrayed Jesus, thinks the hard work was worth it.

"It was fun," Kevin said. "Everybody signed up for the parts they wanted and I signed up for everything. I got picked for Jesus."

And the hardest part of playing the Savior?

"During the Hosanna part, I have to hold my arms up a lot," Kevin said. "The arms get a little tired."

"All of the eighth-graders get first-grade partners for Mass," he said. "My partner sometimes has trouble paying attention to the service, but he paid attention to this."

The principal, Patricia Brink, agrees that "Living Stations" has a profound affect on the younger students.

"I heard a second- and a third-grader saying what parts they wanted to play when they get to the higher grades," Mrs. Brink said.

Garrett Love, a 5-year-old kindergartner, hasn't picked out his future role yet, but he does have definite ideas about his favorite part of the performance.

"I liked when my brother Shaun [who played Peter] did the first part," he said.

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