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2nd Living Stations of the Cross on Friday
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St. Anthony School eighth grader Troy “Junior” Pelicas as Jesus in the Living Stations of the Cross. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO/Bulletin Correspondent

St. Anthony’s School has been doing “Living” for nearly 25 years — and counting.

The Living Stations of the Cross has been a Lent Season staple since Father, now Monsignor, (ret.) Lawrence McGovern was pastor of the parish. He was instrumental in having the eighth graders of the school, with the help of their classroom teacher Nancy Hogle, present in the church a dramatization of what happened to Jesus from the time he was condemned to death, to his crucifixion, death and burial.

Nothing has changed in the hour-long maditative presentation through all those years — until now. Instead of being a part of Good Friday services, it is now held the week before Holy Week. For the first time also, not just one but two dates are scheduled. The first one was presented immediately following the weekly students’ “teaching” Mass on Wednesday. The students will again reprise their roles on Friday at 7 o’clock in the evening in the church with everyone invited.

The entire program is comprised of all eighth graders, from playing the major roles of that of Jesus, Mary, Veronica, Simon of Cyrene, to Pontius Pilate. Two students — Justin Fontanilla and Maximo Perez — also took on the roles of meditation leaders which, previously, have been undertaken by the church pastor. The rest of the students took on the roles of the Women of Jerusalem, the Roman soldiers, and the crowd.

The major roles went to Troy “Junior” Pelicas (Jesus), Ciara Jene Castro (Mary, the mother of Jesus), Kayla Sanchez (Veronica), Jay Severson (Simon of Cyrene), and Joey Turaro (Pilate). As in previous years, parishioners Norma Franco provided the vocal music with Amy Cambra at the piano.

Citing one advantage of holding this program before Holy Week, Hogle said that this allows the students to watch the presentation since school is not yet out for lent season. The school is closed during Holy Week.

Additionally, she noted that this is the first time she has seen the student who played the role of Mary, Jesus’ mother, so moved that she shed tears during the part where Jesus is taken down from the cross after he expires and placed on her lap and then Franco starts singing, “Mary, Did You Know?”

Many of the adults in the audience were just as moved with several seen wiping their cheeks.

“The students are fantastic! They really did a good job,” said parishioner Ada Van Ryn after the program.

For parent and St. Anthony School teacher Lynn Poncini, this year’s Living Stations of the Cross is particularly and especially meaningful. All of her three daughters have now all taken part in this school activity with her youngest’s participation this year.