Procession marks Good Friday

400 bring song, prayer to Little Italy streets

March 30, 2002|By Laurie Willis | Laurie Willis,SUN STAFF

The streets of Little Italy were filled yesterday afternoon with worshippers who sang and prayed while marching behind a pony and cart carrying a wooden statue of Jesus Christ in a grand Good Friday procession.

For many of the 400 people who followed the Rev. Michael Salerno, pastor of St. Leo Roman Catholic Church, it was spiritually uplifting.

"Good Friday and Easter are a good time for reflection," said Darryl Matarozza, 52, whose father and stepmother, Tony and Virginia Matarozza, attend St. Leo's. "I love to be a part of it. It's really a moving time."

The procession lasted about 45 minutes and was more elaborate than usual. Salerno requested Crabcake, the pony, because he wanted to simulate Good Friday ceremonies in Italy.

To that end, eight altar boys and girls in white robes walked alongside the cart, and an eight-member band played music.

Josephine Giorgilli, 75, watched from her porch, while Joseph Platerote, 78, took pictures.

"Oh, it's beautiful," said Giorgilli, whose granddaughter, Bianca, 10, was an altar girl.

Matthew Macis, 13, marched with his parents, Mark and Lisa Macis, siblings Gabe, 9, and Sierra, 7, and his grandmother, Doreen Cucina Matczuk.

"It makes me imagine how my ancestors in Italy lived and how they celebrated the events leading up to Easter," Matthew said.

"It's a custom that the kids should grow up with," Matczuk said.

"It also symbolizes unity," Lisa Macis said.

John and Angie Guerriero, and Sam Miller, who helped organize the procession, were thankful for the clear skies and large turnout.

For Shirley and Dominic Ciarapica - who marched with grandson, Nicholas, 5, and grew up in the St. Leo parish - it evoked memories of years past.

The procession probably couldn't have been more meaningful to Ida Nini, 71, a lifelong member of St. Leo whose cancer prevented her from participating.

Shortly before the procession ended, it stopped at Nini's house on Fawn Street so that Salerno could give her a hug and a kiss. Flanked by daughters Christina Duval, 46, and Debbie Difolco, 42, and a few neighbors, Nini cried.

Barbara Jackson, 60, a member of St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church in Fells Point, said she hopes events like the St. Leo parade will help bring peace to Baltimore.

Though she walked with a cane, Jackson didn't complain.

"Christ died on the cross, and he took this long walk like we're doing now," Jackson said. "This is only a little bit of what he did. We don't have a cross on our back or thorns in our head. I think it's particularly good for the young generation to learn this."

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