November 30, 2021

Marchers show faith with Cortland procession

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Community members gather Friday at St. Mary’s Church on North Main Street for the annual Way of The Cross processional.

Church bells rang at noon. Hymns and verses from the Gospel soon followed, echoing through downtown on Friday — Good Friday.

Close to 50 people trekked south on Main Street in silence, following a man carrying a 7-foot-tall wooden cross, stopping occasionally along the way.

At each stop, verses from the Gospel of John were read through a microphone, reciting John’s passion account of Jesus’ suffering up to his death. The group of residents, young and old, also took time to meditate and then continued on their way.

It was part of the eighth annual Outdoor Way of the Cross walk, which started at St. Mary’s Church, went south to Court Street, then back to the church.

The weather was cold and damp with a drizzle of precipitation, but that wasn’t going to stop those who wanted to be a part of the walk.

“It could be worse and we would still be here,” said Chris Moheimani of Homer, who attended the event with his wife, Liesl.

Both have participated in the event for several years, Liesl Moheimani said. Chris Moheimani added it is just a part of their faith to take part.

“It is a gift to me,” Liesl Moheimani said, as it is an opportunity to spend time with the community and honor Jesus’ death.

The idea for the event originated from an event Lisa Lickona, coordinator of the Way of the Cross event, said she attended in New York City. Thousands of people gathered to display their passion for their faith in public.

When the pastor of St. Mary’s was looking to do an outdoor event, recounting her experience at the New York City event, Lickona said she suggested the Way of the Cross event.

“It is a beautiful thing that shows how integrated people are in Cortland,” Lickona said.

Anyone could attend the event, even people who do not normally go to St. Mary’s, she said.

It was also a good opportunity for parents to do something with their kids on Good Friday, she added. Rather than bringing them to an inside service where they could get bored and go crazy, they go to be outside and burn some energy.

This year was Cortland resident Rosa Strauff’s second time taking part in the walk, which she called peaceful.

She said it is a rewarding experience getting to express her faith in public and with a group of neighbors.

“It is like you’re out there in Jerusalem, where everything happened outside,” Strauff said. “The meaning of Easter comes out better.”