Diocesan News

Bishop Brennan Joins Large, Renewed Procession Across the Brooklyn Bridge

Marchers enjoyed sunny, breezy weather on Friday, April 15 for the Way of the Cross procession from Brooklyn to Manhattan. This year’s event was the first since 2019 because of the pandemic. (Photos: Bill Miller)

The Way of the Cross returns after being canceled for two years due to the pandemic

 MANHATTAN — Several hundred people packed the Brooklyn Bridge Friday, April 15 — Good Friday — to demonstrate their love of the Living Christ for his sacrifice more than 2,000 years ago.

“I think it’s beautiful, very beautiful,”  said Karen Costable of Westchester County. “It is a message of love.”

The Way of the Cross procession, sponsored by the lay Catholic movement, Communion and Liberation, held its first Good Friday trek across the Brooklyn Bridge in 1996.

A brilliant sunny sky and a light breeze greeted the marchers led by Bishop Robert Brennan.

This “Way of the Cross” procession stepped off from the Cathedral-Basilica of St. James in Downtown Brooklyn, and then stretched across the Brooklyn Bridge. It stopped at City Hall Park and Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan and ended at St. Andrew’s Church on Cardinal Hayes Place. The marchers observed the Stations of the Cross along the way.

Bishop Robert Brennan explains the significance of Good Friday observances to members of the media. (Photo: Bill Miller)

It was the first Way of the Cross procession, sponsored by Communion and Liberation, since 2019. The ensuing two years were canceled because of the pandemic.

The procession over the bridge has grown considerably under the guidance of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic lay movement founded in the 1950s by Father Luigi Giussani near Milan, Italy.

In 1996, members of the movement in New York asked permission to conduct the Way of the Cross over the bridge.

Fewer than 30 people participated in that first procession, accompanied by then Father Ronald Marino, who retired last year as a monsignor and pastor of St. Rosalia-Basilica of Regina Pacis Parish in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn.

But the annual procession kept growing and in 2002, some 3,000 New Yorkers followed the Way of the Cross to the World Trade Center, site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The Way of the Cross Procession is an act of devotion commemorating Christ’s Passion. Here, the procession reaches the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge on the Brooklyn side.

“The crowd estimate was between 800 and 1,000 people, said Dominick Canale, spokesman for Communion and Liberation, on Tuesday, April 19.

Costable was making her first Good Friday trek across the bridge with her son, Joe. She is a member of St. John the Evangelist Parish in White Plains, N.Y.. “My sister, Ruth, up in front of us a little bit, has always been very enthusiastic about coming and being a part of this,” Costable said.

Stephen Perratore, a member of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament, Bayside, Queens, was also making his first procession.

“I retired a couple of years ago, and I always had to work on this Friday,” he said. So Perratore decided to join the procession this year since he had the time.

Jackie Kernizon came with her daughter, Jeannine, from their home on Long Island. They belong to Holy Name of Mary Parish in Valley Stream, N.Y.

“Because I come from Haiti, I am always looking for live Stations of the Cross,” she said. “In Haiti they do all the 14 stations on the street. So I decided this year I would come to this one. I Googled it, and I found the schedule. And here I am!”

Helena and Allan Grigsby made their first Good Friday trek across the bridge in 2019, and they were eager to return for it. They belong to St. Elizabeth Parish in Ozone Park, Queens.

“It’s beautiful,” Helena said. “I did not expect so many people. I think there are more than last time we came.”

Allan Grigsby expressed similar sentiments as Perratore, that being around other Catholics was uplifting.

“Here,” he said, “you’re around the people that all believe what you believe in — happiness, freedom, love, and kindness. That’s why we come back again, to be around people like us.

“Stay with the Lord. You can’t go wrong,” Grigsby added.

The Communion and Liberation choir sang throughout the Way of the Cross Procession. Here the group performs during a stop outside City Hall Park in Lower Manhattan.