For nearly three hours, more than two-dozen parishioners trudged through Westlock in blowing sleet and heavy wet snow to quietly proclaim their faith on Good Friday.
So to align their personal struggles with the cross Jesus carried on the way to his death and resurrection, the procession walked and prayed over the course of the morning for the annual Way of the Cross April 14.
“In the whole Easter season, it’s another beautiful expression of Easter,” said Brenda Skuban, who has been organizing the walk for the last five years, although the walk’s history goes back almost two decades. “It’s a beautiful tradition that has carried on.”
For the entire walk, the group sang the African-American spiritual song, Were You There, as they made their way through town, stopping at several churches, seniors lodges and the Westlock Continuing Care Centre, each representing one of the 14 stations of the cross.
“For me it is a witness,” she said. “It really is a way of proclaiming our faith and I think, even in light of last Sunday when Christians are being threatened and persecuted (in Egypt), it’s really in gratitude of the freedom of our country that we don’t have to fear that.”
Like most years, the non-denominational walk stopped at St. Philip’s Anglican Church where Rev. Peter Yeung did the reading for the 13th station in the church’s front entrance, ushering everyone inside as a brief reprieve from the snow.
Usually more denominations participate to round out the procession to about 50 parishioners, but Skuban said some may have been discouraged by the weather or were unable to participate due to the timing of their church service.
“I put it out there to everybody,” she said. “There were some elderly people that stayed in the church and said they were going to do the stations in the church, so probably in total there might have been 35 people altogether.”
As the procession travelled from station to station, faces peaked out of front windows to take in the sight of the passersby or perhaps use that brief moment to join the walk in their own way.
“There might have been 25 of us walking, but there were so many more that are able to participate, whether it’s at the lodges or in their homes,” Skuban said.
The relatively warm and wet weather was no issue for her, although she had contemplated cancelling the walk.
As she checked the weather forecast in the days leading up to Good Friday, she told herself, “Lord, we just have to put this in Your hand and if this is how You want us to do it this year, that’s the way it’s going to be, and that was it.”
Skuban’s older children have participated in the Way of the Cross, and rain or shine the family has gone almost every year, a practise of faith she would like to pass on to them.
“I hoped they’d be proud of who they are, to be proud of their faith and to stand up for their faith,” she said. “It’s saying that (with) your voice, you can make a difference. Your voice can be heard if you stand up and this is just one way for us to stand up. We can sit back and complain or say things that we wish was going on, but unless you’re going to be a part of it. I hope to make them active participants in every walk of their life.”