For the last 30 years, Holy Week observances in the Brooklyn Diocese have not been complete without the annual Caminata de los Jornadistas, or Walk of the Jornadistas.
The diocesan Jornada Movement marked the 30th anniversary of this sacrificial walk observing Christ’s final pilgrimage to Mt. Calvary, on Holy Saturday, April 23.
Hispanic and Latino young adults conduct the walk in different neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx each year.
Undeterred by heavy rain, around 300 Jornadistas and Pre-Jornadistas participated in this anniversary walk, organized by Equipo Base, the movement’s lay leadership arm, in cooperation with Father James Kuroly and Deacon Jimmy Garcia, J66, spiritual directors.
This year’s route, which covered over eight miles, commenced at the SS. Peter and Paul Spirituality Center, Cobble Hill, home to the movement for the last several years. The center is slated to close this summer and the movement will relocate. Organizers chose this site as the starting point as a tribute to the youth who lived their Jornada retreat within its walls.
“The Jornada Movement has planted many seeds here. We are its fruit,” said Howie Crespo, Equipo Base president.3cami2011
Parish groups arrived via subway, car, bus, and on foot to the center, where young people exchanged warm greetings with friends and acquaintances. Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio bestowed his blessings upon them at just before 9 a.m.
Calling the rain “God’s blessing,” he encouraged youth to continue to hold firm in their faith and allow it to guide their journey both that day and everyday. He challenged young adults to reflect on Jesus’ life and the life they think God might be calling them to live.Youth then lined up for the procession, which included stops at eight churches: St. Agnes, Cobble Hill; St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Rocco, both Park Slope; St. Michael in Sunset Park; St. Catharine of Alexandria, Borough Park; St. Agatha, Sunset Park; St. Andrew the Apostle, Bay Ridge; and Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Sunset Park.
Shielding themselves with umbrellas, ponchos and plastic garbage bags, youth prayed, fasted, chanted and carried handmade banners displaying this year’s theme: “Planted and Built Up in Christ; Firm in My Faith (Sembrado y Edificado en Cristo; Firme en Mi Fe),” derived from the 2011 World Youth Day theme.
Planting the Seeds
Crespo felt the theme was appropriate for the anniversary year. “We talk about planting seeds in our movement and 30 years ago, one leader planted the seed of this walk,” he said.
In 1981, Rudy Vargas, then-president of the movement, instituted the Caminata as a way to memorialize Christ’s death, demonstrate their faith and evangelize their communities. Over 2,000 youths participated in the first Caminata, which was held on Good Friday and stepped off from the former Cursillo Center (Casa de Cursillos) on Humboldt St. The Caminata was moved to Holy Saturday in 1982 and remains an annual event.
“We continue what our J brothers and sisters began. We have the same desire to show Christ is alive in each of us,” Crespo said.
Living Testimony of Faith
2cami2011Onlookers couldn’t help but see that living testimony of faith. Shopkeepers and residents stood in doorways while apartment dwellers opened windows to look outside as they heard youth sing hymns of praise in Spanish and English.
A newly formed band of Jornadistas and Pre-Js from St. Brigid, Bushwick, provided the music.
Though youth usually perform theme-oriented skits at each church, this year’s skits were deferred until the final church, where participating parishes also presented their banners.
In lieu of a banner, youth from Blessed Sacrament, Cypress Hills, interpreted the theme by creating a tree-like structure with Christ’s face
carved into the bark. Red tags with the names of parish Pre-Js and Jornadistas hung like fruit from the greenery. They transported it on a wheeled platform.
Ramon Pena, J156, from Blessed Sacrament, said the tree served as both a conversation piece and an evangelization tool on the subway ride to the spirituality center. Fellow riders inquired about the tree and its purpose.For Pena, it was “a privilege to spread the Word.” After being away from the movement for a few years, he recently returned, he said, “because I realized this is where I found my love for Jesus Christ.”
Helping other youth and young adults find and embrace that love is what young adult members of the movement try to do for tweens and teenagers in their communities. But the message is not age specific.
Felix “Pops” Perez, J157, and his wife Gladys, J169, from Blessed Sacrament are proof. When their son Felix lived his Jornada retreat as a teenager, they were so inspired by his example of faith that they started attending Mass more regularly and decided to live their Jornadas. They are now active in the movement with their children and grandchildren. 6cami2011“It’s been amazing to see the zeal and the passion our young people have for the Lord,” Father Kuroly remarked as he looked upon the sea of umbrellas moving along the route. He was grateful that young adults had the opportunity to see peers who share their fervor of faith.
“It’s important for youth to know they are not alone in their passion for the Lord,” he said.