Diocese of Rochester churches offer Holy Week traditions
For nearly a half-century, John Landino has taken the steep walk up Wayland’s Calvary Hill on Good Friday.
The tradition dates back to 1973, when Landino played a lead role in organizing an outdoor ecumenical Stations of the Cross. The event draws participants from Catholic and Protestant churches in the Town of Wayland as well as surrounding towns and villages.
On April 19, participants will again congregate at the town courthouse in the Village of Wayland, beginning at noon. They will proceed 2.5 miles through town, then up a steep incline on Steuben-Livingston County Line Road to complete the 14 Stations. At the top of the hill — which has an estimated elevation of 1,800 feet — is the walk’s final destination, a 25-foot steel cross Landino constructed in 1974.
Participants who are physically unable to handle the long distance and/or acute climb receive rides for at least a portion of the route. Landino acknowledged that the experience is grueling even for people who are in good shape, especially when the weather is poor.
“It’s a challenging hill,” he said, noting that the trek’s difficulty is intended to mirror Christ’s suffering as he carried his cross.
Landino said he plans to walk the entire distance this year as he has done in the past.
“I’m only 80,” quipped Landino, a longtime member of Wayland’s St. Joseph Church in the Holy Family Catholic Community.
Wayland’s Stations of the Cross are among many Holy Week traditions for Catholics across the Diocese of Rochester. For example, several Good Friday cross walks can be found in the City of Rochester, including two sponsored by Rochester’s St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Parish. The first will begin at noon at the parish’s ministry center on Bay Street and end at Church of the Annunciation. The second procession will begin at 3 p.m. at St. Michael Church and encompass the surrounding neighborhood. Both processions have enjoyed a long and rich history in the Hispanic community, with people dressing in elaborate costumes while portraying the principal characters in Jesus’ passion.
Another longtime Good Friday event is the Living Stations of the Cross at Tioga County’s Blessed Trinity/St. Patrick parishes. Each week of Lent since 1977 parish youths have presented the stations around the region, with this year’s final presentation set for Good Friday, April 19, at 7:30 p.m. at St. Margaret Mary Church in Apalachin.
Earlier that week, Sacred Heart Cathedral will be filled with folks from all parts of the diocese for the annual Chrism Mass. The liturgy, traditionally held on the Tuesday of Holy Week, will take place April 16 at 7 p.m. Bishop Salvatore R. Matano will bless sacramental oils to be used by parishes throughout the upcoming year, and parish representatives will then take the oils back to their respective faith communities. Also during the Chrism Mass, diocesan clergy will renew their priestly promises.
All these Holy Week activities will help wrap up a Lent that’s been filled with such special events and initiatives as parish missions, prayer opportunities, discussion sessions, Bible studies and meals.
Lenten meal events uniting both Catholics and non-Catholics have long been popular in Hammondsport and Auburn. On Wednesdays, St. Gabriel in Hammondsport takes part in a local ecumenical lunch/speaker series; and on Tuesdays, a similar event rotates among Auburn-area Catholic and Protestant churches, with St. Mary and Sacred Heart serving as the host Catholic churches this Lent.
Father Frank Lioi, pastor of Auburn’s St. Mary and Ss. Mary and Martha parishes, also noted that St. Mary Church traditionally offers sung Compline (night prayer) on Lenten Sunday evenings at 8 p.m. and is the only Catholic Church in the diocese to engage in this practice.