Editor Emeritus - Ed Wilkinson

Streets Will be Alive with Faith, Tradition During Holy Week

A woman prays on a hill with wooden crosses after a procession celebrating Palm Sunday in Oshmiany, Belarus, March 20. (CNS photo/Vasily Fedosenko, Reuters)

Sunday is Palm Sunday and it begins the holiest week of the Church’s year. Not only do we have the opportunities to attend the official liturgies of the Sacred Triduum – Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday – but in Brooklyn and Queens we are fortunate to have a number of extra-liturgical events that help us observe the Passion of the Lord.

Brooklyn is known as the Diocese of Immigrants. So many of these Holy Week customs have been brought here by immigrant groups who continue to reenact the faith-filled traditions of their homelands.

For instance, the nine parishes of Bensonhurst, Dyker Heights, and Bath Beach conduct their annual outdoors Way of the Cross on Good Friday, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Many of the prayers are in Italian symbolizing the origin of the custom.

The priests, deacons and faithful of the area will gather at 66th St. and 18th Ave. and process to St. Frances Cabrini Church where Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio will lead a prayer service on a closed-off section of 86th St. that will include a blessing with the relic of the True Cross.

The Brooklyn procession features candlelight (bring your own candle), recitation of the Rosary and the carrying of large statues of the Sorrowful Mother and the corpse of Christ.

During the morning of Good Friday, the movement known as Communion and Liberation will conduct its annual Way of the Cross over the Brooklyn Bridge to the site of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. The pilgrimage ends at St. Peter’s, the historic church on Barclay St. that played a prominent role on that fateful day in 2001.

This event begins at 10 a.m. at St. James Cathedral-Basilica, Downtown Brooklyn, with Bishop DiMarzio blessing the pilgrims and participating in the First Station inside the cathedral.

There’s lots of walking involved in this one, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes and be prepared for the Bridge’s incline.

In Whitestone, the Italian-American community and the Borgetto Society will sponsor a traditional procession of the Sorrowful Mother and Crucified Lord.  The observance begins on Good Friday at 6:30 p.m. with prayer at St. Mel’s Church and the 7:30 p.m. procession will proceed through the neighborhood streets to St. Luke’s Church.

In Carroll Gardens, Sacred Hearts-St. Stephen parish will hold its traditional Good Friday procession through the streets beginning at 7 p.m. It is expected to return to the church for a 9 p.m. service.

Holy Cross parish in Maspeth begins its Way of the Cross through the streets on Good Friday at 5:30 p.m. Along the way, the youth of the parish will dramatize the Lord’s Passion in three languages.

There are many more Holy Week observances throughout Brooklyn and Queens. Consult our Around the Diocese column on Page 25 for more opportunities.

For those of you who cannot get out for these events, you can participate in Holy Week liturgies on NET-TV. There is a whole schedule of Masses from the Diocese and from the Vatican. See this week’s TV guide pullout.