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Followers participate in depiction of Christ’s final days

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Updated: May 1, 2013 3:36PM



ST. JOHN — More than 1,000 faithful from around the Midwest followed in Jesus Christ’s footsteps Friday, walking the path of the Passion as they offered devotion.

Fresh flowers were placed by a visitor at the feet or in the hands of Christ at every Station of the Cross along the winding trail at The Shrine of Christ’s Passion, where the Rev. Francis Hoffman, Father Rocky of Relevant radio, led the crowd through the 14 stations depicting the last days of Christ’s life.

“God has given us a beautiful day,” Hoffman told the crowd before beginning the processional. “It is a great time for us to take time out of our daily lives to remember.”

St. John residents Marilyn and Rich Spisak said they make sure they are among the faithful every year who participate in the Stations of the Cross processional at the Shrine. The couple are members of St. John the Evangelist Church, which overlooks the rolling Shrine property.

“It’s the closest thing to the real thing. It’s very emotional,” Marilyn Spisak said.

“It’s the participation more than anything else,” Rich said, adding this is the second time Father Rocky has led the procession. In previous years, the Rev. Bishop Dale Melczek of the Diocese of Gary and the Rev. Sammie Maletta, the parish priest, have made the journey.

Marilyn Spisak said for Catholics this Easter season is a particularly joyful time with the election of a new pope.

“Everyone is anticipating what is to come,” she said.

The couple expects Pope Francis will be bringing a lot of change to the church due to his background and the fact he is from Latin America.

“I think he will reach out more to other religions because people don’t see him as this man who’s untouchable,” Rich Spisak said.

The Rev. Kevin McLemore of Dolton, Ill., was sharing details of the story of Christ’s Passion with his children Jon, 11, and Angel, 10. It was the first time the family had come to the Shrine on Good Friday.

“It’s always important that I teach as a father a history, a legacy, to my children. ... I can’t assume someone else will bring it to them,” McLemore said.

Angel said it was good her dad was taking the time to teach them about the way Christ was treated and how he died.

“I think it was pretty cruel what they did to him,” she said, adding she could not understand why out of all the people there at the time no one spoke out to help Jesus.

“They could have treated him better,” Angel said.



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