Rush man links his Stations of the Cross devotion with gratitude - Catholic Courier

Rush man links his Stations of the Cross devotion with gratitude

RUSH — When asked why he decided several years ago to permanently erect the Stations of the Cross in the grove in his front yard, Bill Mulligan began his explanation by talking about his experiences in World War II.

As a 20-year-old enlistee, Mulligan was wounded three times during the war. He spent a year and a half in an Army hospital and returned home to his mother with his right arm in a cast. He had nearly lost the limb after a shell went in one side of it and out the other.

“I went into the Army thinking it was no big challenge,” Mulligan said. “I soon found out that war takes a toll on everybody and everything.”

It was in the Army that he learned to give thanks for what he has. Mulligan, 86, shows gratitude for his blessings by praying the Stations of the Cross every day, although the weather and his health often do not permit him to be outside in the front yard to do so.

“I still think it’s a wonderful thing to recall the many things Christ did for us when he was crucified for our sins,” Mulligan said.

Such devotions as the Stations of the Cross are important to Mulligan, who regularly participates in perpetual adoration at St. Joseph Parish in Rush and attends St. Rose Parish in Lima with his wife, Helen.

“It was something that we wanted to do for quite some time,” Helen Mulligan said of creating the stations in their yard.

Mulligan said his plan for erecting the stations at his home began with grandiose ideas. He said he wanted to put them in a hedgerow in one of the fields on the 60-some acres in Rush that he and Helen call home.

“I thought I would go out and do these stations right so that it would lend itself to the landscape,” Mulligan said.

But he said he soon learned that God had other plans.

“I found out as I was chopping weeds down, the Lord was giving them the power to grow,” Mulligan remarked.

Instead, his wife suggested he put the stations in the front yard. Once the location was determined, the Mulligans set to work to create them. They had trouble finding pictures of the stations at the area’s religious bookstores, so their daughter purchased pictures from the Internet.

A cabinet maker made peaked wooden shelters to help protect the photos of the stations, which also are covered in plastic to keep them dry. Benches are scattered throughout the grove to invite contemplation.

In addition to praying the Stations of the Cross every day, Mulligan prays the rosary and says the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. He said he also prays at night as well as in the morning in gratitude for getting through the night.

“My wife will say, ‘Why are you going to bed so early,’ and I’ll tell her, ‘I’m saying the rosary for you.’ She can’t argue with that,” Mulligan said.

He said he also is grateful that the Lord has given him the generous gift of time: He has been retired 20 years from managing the Genesee Valley Regional Market Authority, a nine-county food distribution center in Henrietta.

Though the outdoor stations are meant mainly for the Mulligan family’s private devotions and those of friends who wish to participate, several people passing by have stopped to inquire about them.

One young man asked Mulligan why he had so many birdhouses in his trees. Mulligan acknowledged that the stations’ shape is reminiscent of bird houses, but points out that they mean so much more.

“What I saw in the service, and what I had to do, I saw an opportunity to change my life, and give something back to a very benevolent creator,” Mulligan said.

“So, we ended up with bird houses in some poor old guy’s front yard,” he added with a laugh.


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