The Brooklyn Bridge. Wikimedia Commons

Over The Bridge, Towards Destiny

The traditional Way of the Cross over the Brooklyn Bridge. Promoted by CL and proposed to the whole city. The arrival in Manhattan.
Lorna Beretta

More than 400 people silently followed the cross over the Brooklyn Bridge on Good Friday this year. This is now the fourth year that, by holding the stations across the Brooklyn Bridge, the New York community has reminded the whole city of Jesus' road to Calvary. The starting point was the diocesan Cathedral-Basilica of St. James and, for the first time, the cross led the group all the way to the Manhattan side of the bridge, in front of the municipal courthouse there. Meditations at each station were provided by readings from the Gospel, selections from Péguy and Father Giussani, and comments by Fr. Ronald Marino.

At the last station in front of the Cathedral-Basilica of St. James, Bishop Thomas Daily of Brooklyn welcomed and blessed the procession, adding a heartfelt thanks for the witness given to the entire city of our faith in Christ risen and present among us.

The Movement choir of New York, patiently prepared by maestro Chris Vath, accompanied the meditation with various songs of the Movement, along with some pieces in English.

On Wednesday of Holy Week, the invitations to participate in the Way of the Cross were handed out at two crucial points in the city: at the subway stations by City Hall in Manhattan and by the Cathedral-Basilica in Brooklyn.

In New York, Good Friday is simply a Friday. For many, seeing more than 400 people silently following the cross were a sign of wonder, while for others, it was an occasion for scorn and derision. One passerby spit at the foot of the cross, and yet for others-such as two bridge painters whose work was interrupted by the procession-it was an occasion to remove their hats as a sign of respect and place their hands together in prayer. Still others remained completely indifferent to the event, like the homeless man who slept on a bench at one of the two points where the procession stopped. He tranquilly continued his slumber, oblivious to what surrounded him. Tourists, surprised by the unexpected scene, took numerous photos capturing the spectacle of skyscrapers that crown the top of the bridge juxtaposed with the unusual particular of a raised cross.

Diocesan television taped most of the procession, and other journalists collided with the path of the faithful in order to take dramatic photos, probably without asking themselves what the cross and what the people following it signified.

In a city like New York there is a place for everything and everyone, but this isn't a true reason to carry out a gesture like the Way of the Cross. The true reason is that, in all of the beautiful testimony we can-through grace-give, there is a Friend who is everything in everyone, and only He can unite and love everything New York welcomes and contains each day.

The first time Jonathan had the idea for a public Way of the Cross over the Brooklyn Bridge, there were varying reactions on the part of the community: there were those who believed it would be exaggeratedly public, who preferred a more discreet gesture in one of the Brooklyn parishes; and there were others who quickly adhered to the idea. Yet now, the New York Way of the Cross is an evident sign of the unity of the New York community, and it is a grace that this unity that can be a sign, for all of New York, of what makes our frenetic life human, through the newness that Christ present brings. Such unity shown by the entire community-who, in a spirit or recollection, followed the cross Jonathan carried over the Brooklyn Bridge-sustained the entire preparation that had preceded the gesture, and it continues to sustain, in gladness and in freneticism, the preparation of the other public moment that will take place in May at the United Nations in New York, which is the presentation of the second volume of Father Giussani's "PerCorso" in English, At the Origin of the Christian Claim.

… from Fall River (Massachusetts)
At 2:00 p.m. on Good Friday, on top of the hill overlooking Taunton River, approximately one hundred and fifty worshippers filed out of St. Louis Church into the spring sunshine to begin the Stations of the Cross. The stations, led by Fr. Michael Carvill, were accompanied by the New England CL choir. Two other parishes located on the park, one Catholic and the other Episcopalian, joined with the CL community and friends to remember the passion of Christ. Many onlookers who found themselves, in the park to take in the first warmth of the season stopped to watch, cross themselves and, in some cases, even join in as the group marked all fourteen stations. The stops were filled with hymns, reflections by Fr. Giussani, readings from the Gospel and Péguy, as well as commentary from Fr. Michael. The twelfth station, which took place in the Episcopal parish, even had a recitation of an imagined monologue of the Virgin Mary standing under the cross. The experience was a surprise for everyone, even those who had taken part in many such events over the years. The depth of emotion evoked by this "journey" is, it seems, always unexpected. The beauty of it is never fully anticipated. At the end it was moving to see how grateful everyone was just to have been present at an event so full of memory.
Fr. Vincent Nagle

… from San Francisco
About a year ago, the Archbishop of San Francisco allowed local Franciscans to reopen the church of Saint Francis of Assisi, a parish that had been closed a number of years earlier due to a shortage of priests and faithful parishioners. The Franciscan friars reestablished this church-the oldest in San Francisco-as a shrine to the patron saint of the city. Located in the heart of the city, between North Beach (the Italian district) and Chinatown, the Shrine of Saint Francis has become a reference point and a place of devotion for numerous local residents and tourists alike. Three months ago, some of us met with Fr. Kevin, one of the Franciscans with whom we immediately "clicked." This new friendship, which embraced the diversity of our charisms, was born out of a love and a passion for the same Church. It was natural then for us to ask Fr. Kevin-on the first Friday of Lent, over a plate of spaghetti at a North Beach ristorante-about joining together in some kind of public gesture at the shrine. Specifically, we proposed a meditation in preparation for Holy Week. The response from the friars was very positive, and two factors certainly influenced their decision to open the doors of the shrine to us and to support our initiative with such kindness. In the first place, they understood immediately that we were not moved by a spirit of proselytism, but by a desire to affirm for ourselves and for everyone in San Francisco that Christ is salvation. Secondly, they were struck by the fact that the proposed text for our gesture of meditation would include Péguy. In fact, one of the friars, Fr. Steven, saw this collaboration between our two groups as a gratuitous opportunity for rekindling the passion he had felt in his college days for Péguy's works. The meditation took place at the shrine on Palm Sunday, immediately after the Solemn Mass.

It was a simple and crucial gesture that reflected-in both its form and in the text and music selected-the sensibility with which we have been educated in the Movement, particularly in celebrating Holy Week. It was a beautiful display for us, for our friends, and even for those visitors who came in merely out of curiosity.
Bruno Montesano

… from St. Cloud (Minnesota)
Traffic slowed along Division Street, the main road through town, as drivers paused to see what the crowd was doing at Lake George. Even though it was very cold and windy, nearly a hundred people of all ages gathered at the small lake in the midst of St. Cloud to the walk the Way of the Cross, to listen to the meditations of Fr. Giussani, and to pray and sing together. It was beautiful. High school students took turns carrying the cross. Parents pushed their infants in strollers. Older children ran along the shore picking up rocks and sticks. Strangers walked together singing and praying. We did not know many of those present, but it was evident that the cross is a sign of our shared destiny. With a public gesture, we recalled what happened that first Good Friday in Jerusalem. We remembered and proclaimed that He who gave His life that day is here among us. At the Cathedral service earlier that day, we were reminded of the true source of this desire to witness, as Bishop Kinney repeatedly exhorted in his homily, "See what love the Father has bestowed on us in letting us be called the children of God!" (1Jn. 3:1)
John Steichen

Presentation of Guissani's At the Origin of the Christian Claim
May 24, 1999, 5:00 p.m. United Nations Headquarters
Dag Hammarskjold Library Auditorium New York, NY

Cardinal John O'Connor, Archbishop of New York Dr. Gilbert C. Meilander, Jr., Board of Directors Chair in Christian Ethics at Valparaiso University, Indiana Dr. Neil Gillman, Chair of the Dept. of Jewish Theology at Jewish Theological Seminary, New York Ambassador Razan A.G.Farhadi, Permanent Rapresentative of the Islamic State of Afghanistan to the UN

Archbishop Renato R. Martino, Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations
Communion & Liberation
The Path to Peace Foundation