Diocesan News

On Good Friday, Hundreds Walked The Way of the Cross Over the Brooklyn Bridge


Bishop Robert Brennan (left of cross bearer) leads the annual Way of the Cross procession across the Brooklyn Bridge on Good Friday (March 29. (Photo: Bill Miller)

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Several hundred people of all ages and cultures had something in common as they poured onto the Brooklyn Bridge Friday, March 29, for the annual Way of the Cross procession.

Clearly, they all loved Jesus — so much so that they took off from work or school to attend. Once on the bridge, they marched against chilly wind gusts and squeezed past throngs of tourists who already clogged the bridge.

It was Bishop Robert Brennan’s third time leading the procession from the Cathedral Basilica of St. James in Downtown Brooklyn to the Brooklyn Bridge and across to lower Manhattan where it concluded at Zuccotti Park.

Bishop Robert Brennan recounts the Passion of Jesus during the Way of the Cross procession across the Brooklyn Bridge on Good Friday. (Photo: Bill Miller)

But these stalwarts did not come to celebrate the risen Lord — that joy is reserved for Easter Sunday. Rather, they came in a solemn procession to honor the slain son of God, who became flesh, but shed blood on the cross to cover our sins — past, present, and future.

For some, this annual Good Friday tradition deepened their understanding of Christ’s mysterious sacrifice on the cross — something the apostle Peter did not comprehend when he denied the Lord three times following his arrest.

“What’s up with Peter?” Bishop Brennan posed at the second of four stations. “His last words in front of Jesus: ‘I don’t even know the man.’

“Peter spoke more truth than he realized. He didn’t really know Jesus. He didn’t even know himself.”

Bishop Brennan recounted how during the Last Supper, Peter bristled at Jesus lowering himself to wash the feet of the apostles, including this stubborn fisherman.

“Peter couldn’t stand to see a savior who would bend low, suffering in humility, to wash his dirty feet,” the bishop said. “Oh, man, that was just too much to take, too much to handle.”

Bishop Brennan added that only when people see Jesus on the cross, pouring out His love, do they realize who He is and who they are.

“We are people who tremendously need His help, and His mercy,” Bishop Brennan said. “He bends low. He shows us that merciful love.”

Peter’s story is one of redemption from faithless failure. He became the “first pope,” and suffered a martyr’s death for the Lord he had thrice denied.

The Way of the Cross procession is sponsored by Communion and Liberation, a Catholic lay movement founded in the 1950s by Father Luigi Giussani near Milan, Italy.

One of several hundred participants of the procession prays the rosary. (Photo: Bill Miller)

It has been held over the Brooklyn Bridge each year since 1996, except for the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021.

It was the first Way of the Cross procession for Ozzy Diaz, a retired surgeon from Bay Ridge, who has been a member of St. Anselm Parish since 1984. He called the event “amazing.” Congestion on the bridge did not bother him.

“This is not easy for anybody who doesn’t have faith,” he said. “But if you have faith in our Lord, I think nothing is difficult.”

Alberto Pangrazzi, a member of Communion and Liberation, lives in Manhattan but is from Trento, Italy, where he joined in similar Good Friday processions as a child.

“But,” he added, “we don’t have such an iconic structure like the Brooklyn Bridge.” Pangrazzi observed how people grow in faith at each procession over this bridge.

“Every year we find something different, a detail that adds to what we learned the year before,” he said. “It’s a good moment when you can be silent, reflect and think about what Jesus did for all of us.

“Even in the deepest sufferings you know that there is always a chance to be reborn like Jesus.”

Marta Kudela said she has been coming to the procession for 15 years, but this year was bittersweet, being the first time she was not accompanied by her son, Michael. He died last year of a stroke at age 33.

“I am giving myself, sharing myself with Jesus,” said Kudela, who came to the U.S. from Poland 35 years ago. “There are crosses that we all carry. Each person here today is carrying their own cross.”

Kudela is a member of the St. Stanislaus Parish, which serves the Polish Catholic community of Manhattan.

“It’s very special for me this year,” she said. “Every year is special, but I know my son is with the Lord, and I know that on Sunday is the resurrection of the Lord. So, I also know we all are on that path.”

Marta Kudela (left) shares photos of her son, Michael, who accompanied her on previous Way of the Cross processions. He died last year at age 33, so this year’s procession was bittersweet for her. She was joined by her friend Krystyna Huryn (right). Both women are from Poland. (Photo: Bill Miller)

One thought on “On Good Friday, Hundreds Walked The Way of the Cross Over the Brooklyn Bridge

  1. With the narrative and photos Senior Reporter makes me feel as if I was with Bishop Brennan and all those blessed souls that made the procession! Thank you Bill!