WAYLAND — For each step up Selbig Hill on April 7, breathing became more labored and leg muscles ached more acutely.
Yet walkers of all ages completed the steep climb, paying homage to a much greater agony endured by Jesus on the day of his crucifixion.
On a chilly, breezy afternoon, several dozen Catholics and Protestants united to take part in the 50th anniversary of a local Good Friday cross walk. Proceeding 2.5 miles through this Steuben County village, the two-hour event ended atop Selbig Hill — also known as Calvary Hill — where a 25-foot cross is permanently affixed.
Steuben County cross walk goes along Wayland’s village streets
Participants began the April 7 walk at Wayland’s town courthouse at noon, simulating the location and time of Jesus being handed over to be crucified by Pontius Pilate. An opening prayer was given by Father John Gathenya, pastor of Holy Family Catholic Community, who told those gathered that their act of remembrance that day should be viewed as “a manifestation of where we hold the cross in our hearts.”
The ecumenical walk went along village streets for the first seven Stations of the Cross, with the second station taking place in front of St. Joseph Church on Fremont Street. Members of Wayland-area churches took turns leading each station.
Beginning at the base of Selbig Hill, on the western outskirts of Wayland, the walk became significantly more challenging. Still, most walkers — including many older participants — managed their way up an 1,800-foot incline on Steuben-Livingston County Line Road for the eighth through 14th stations.
Wayland parishioner has organized event for many years
Participants completed their tiring journey by gathering around the large steel cross. One by one, they came forward to touch it in gentle honor of the crucified Christ.
The cross was built by John Landino, a longtime member of St. Joseph Church, which is now part of the Holy Family parish. In 1974, Landino and several volunteers erected the cross at its current location, anchoring it with more than a ton of concrete. That steel structure replaced a wooden cross that had been desecrated by vandals, and it has now endured on that spot for nearly a half-century.
Landino, 84, has endured as well, remaining a longtime organizer of the cross walk and having missed only one since its 1973 inception. He walked the entire distance April 7.Tags: Steuben County News