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2,000 faithful flock to shrine

Young girl her family pray ninth statiduring Stations Cross an annual Good Friday event Shrine Christ's PassiSt. John IN. Friday

Young girl and her family pray ninth station during the Stations of the Cross, an annual Good Friday event, at the Shrine of Christ's Passion, in St. John, IN., on Friday, April 18, 2014. | John Smierciak/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: May 20, 2014 6:03AM



ST. JOHN — Joe Johns knelt in silent prayer Friday, gently placing a long-stemmed white rose on the bronze statue of the lifeless body of Jesus Christ being held in the arms of his mourning mother, the Virgin Mary.

“The white is the purity of our Lord Jesus,” the Dyer resident said. Johns was joined by his son Matthew, who carried the bouquet of roses for his dad, handing one to him at each stop.

The Johns’ pause at the 13th station of the Cross at the Shrine of Christ’s Passion on Good Friday is one they have repeated at each of the 14 stations for as many years as Joe Johns could remember.

“Our family has been coming here since the Shrine was farther down on U.S. 41,” he said. “It’s a part of our religion.”

Johns was among the more than 2,000 faithful who made the pilgrimage to the Shrine to retrace the journey of Jesus Christ from the Last Supper to the Resurrection during the annual Good Friday Stations of the Cross.

“It’s beautiful to see all these people here,” Johns said.

This year the journey was led by the Rev. Francis J. Hoffman, who is better known as “Father Rocky,” the executive director of Relevant Radio, author, speaker and host of “Go Ask Your Father.” Hoffman told the story of each of the 14 stations, leading the sea of people in prayer at each stop.

“We are here together as brothers and sisters of the Christian faith to walk along the path Jesus walked, the Path of Sorrow,” Hoffman told the crowd.

Many of those who made the journey touched or kissed the statues of Christ. Some knelt in prayer long after the journey ended. Others cried as they reached the peak of the hill, the 12th station, where the statues depicted Christ hanging on the cross.

Olympia Tienstra of Munster kissed the bronze head of Christ at the different stations as she made her way up the hill praying. Tienstra said she has been to the Shrine for the Stations in the past but this year wanted to bring her children to participate.

“I wanted them to experience the stations. I grew up going every week. It is important to have them understand what Easter is about, that it is more than bunnies and Easter eggs,” Tienstra said.



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