Calgary Catholics Gather for Stations of the Cross at St. Mary’s University

For the second time in two years, Calgary’s annual Stations of the Cross was held at a new venue, St. Mary’s University.

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Amid the hum of snow plows and nearby traffic, Calgary Catholics returned to a historic tradition on Good Friday in a new location, the second time they have done so in as many years.

About 1,000 of the city’s faithful gathered at St. Mary’s University in southeast Calgary for the two-hour Stations of the Cross procession around the private Catholic university’s campus. Despite subzero temperatures and a new layer of snow underfoot, few complaints were voiced among the 14 stations of the cross that led to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

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The approximately two-hour procession recounted the sentencing, torture and execution of Christ, with worshipers meditating and recounting the events of the day. In the mobile operation, volunteers surrounded the speakers in small blue cars, while the choir raced from station to station in front of the faithful attendees.

The ritual is a cornerstone of the Easter weekend, recognizing Christ’s death before His resurrection on Easter Sunday.

“It’s amazing how I come into this: I find that as I walk among people, sometimes in silence, I am praying, but I know they are praying too,” Calgary Bishop William McGrattan said after concluding Friday’s ritual. .

Calgary Via Crucis
A participant carries the cross during the Stations of the Cross on the campus of St. Mary’s University in Calgary on Good Friday, March 29, 2024. Gavin Young/Postmedia

The somber outdoor event trod new ground Friday, the second time in as many years it has been held in a new location. Last year it was held at Our Lady Fatima, a 27-year-old Portuguese parish in the Foothills Industrial Park.

This came after decades of Good Friday walking along the Beltline near St. Mary’s Cathedral, where it had been celebrated since the late 1980s. Stations of the Cross organizers have been searching since January for a new location for the event, which returned last year after three consecutive cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Daryl MacDonald, diocesan representative of the Calgary chapter of the Knights of Columbus, said last year’s Stations of the Cross changed locations because “we hadn’t done well, mainly.” MacDonald was one of the main organizers of this year’s Via Crucis.

MacDonald said they may have found their permanent location at St. Mary’s, but that won’t be decided for some time, he said. McGrattan said several people approached him after Friday’s event to complement the route, even though the ground was slippery due to overnight snowfall.

“Maybe if this location works out, we’ll consider it,” he said.

McGrattan told Postmedia earlier this week that the diocese hoped to have the procession again in downtown Calgary next year.

Good Friday is often a day McGrattan uses to reflect on events both near and far from home, he said, particularly in areas experiencing higher levels of suffering.

“There are many areas in the world where there is violence and conflict,” he said. “And I think today is a day when we should remember and pray for those people who face circumstances that are very much a cross, a great persecution.”

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