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Ecumenical Way of the Cross highlights sufferers and their carers

By Susan Gately - 19 April, 2019

Two Christian churches will join in a special procession to highlight those suffering in society and those generously working to try to help them at a Way of the Cross today in Limerick.

In a departure from tradition, leaders and faithful from the Catholic and Church of Ireland communities will do the traditional procession together, stopping off at various locations to highlight forms of poverty and need, care and affection.

“This is the first time we will have a significant ecumenical Good Friday procession and we encourage everyone who is in need of support or who knows someone who needs support to join us in this very special gathering,” said Bishop Brendan Leahy, who will lead the procession with the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, Richard Clarke.

“Many countries have a great tradition of procession at Easter and we have too, but mostly these stations are in our churches,” continued Bishop Leahy. “It is only right that we bring this procession out into the public, to let those people who need support and those who provide support know that they are foremost in our thoughts.”

The ceremony will start at 12 noon with an opening rite at St Mary’s Cathedral, pausing for prayers at various locations to acknowledge services and issues that affect society and the public.

The Church of Ireland Bishop of the Diocese of Limerick, Kenneth Kearon, the Dean of St Mary’s Church of Ireland Cathedral, Dean Niall J. Sloane, the Dean of St John’s Cathedral, Fr Noel Kirwin, and other priests of the dioceses will also take part in the procession.

“The fact also that we are linking our two cathedrals is very pertinent in a week in which the world has been shocked by the fire at Notre Dame,” said Bishop Leahy, pointing out that the fire-damaged Notre Dame is just five years older than St Mary’s Cathedral. Earlier this week, he and Bishop Kearon wrote a joint letter of support to the Archbishop of Paris, Michel Christian Alain Aupetit, in response to the devastating fire.

The stations will include an Opening Rite at St Mary’s Cathedral and pauses for prayer at Arthur’s Quay, where the youth mental health service Jigsaw is based, and at Poor Man’s Kilkee in recognition of the work of the Samaritans.

It will also take in Bedford Row, the location of the Bedford Row Family Project, which engages with families of prisoners; Thomas Street, where it will remember the dead; Brother Russell House at Gerald Griffin Street, in recognition of work done for the homeless; and St John’s Hospital for the sick. It will conclude at St John’s Cathedral for the Closing Rite.

“Christ suffered on the cross for us and we do the Way of the Cross in reparation for what he endured,” said Bishop Kenneth Kearon. “But today there are many, many people who endure suffering, who carry crosses and we want to bring them into our thoughts this Good Friday with this procession. We must pray for them and support them and our Good Friday procession is a statement of solidarity with them at this solemn time as we also remember the ultimate sacrifice made for us by Christ.”

Meanwhile in Dublin today, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin will lead the Way of the Cross through the Phoenix Park, beginning at the Wellington Monument at 12 noon and processing to the Papal Cross in the Phoenix Park.

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