By Kathryne Sparaco | Contributing writer

We don’t always think of Good Friday as joyous, but it was a joyful Good Friday for the youth, young adults and families who gathered at Christ the King Retreat House in Syracuse for outdoor Stations of the Cross with Bishop Douglas Douglas J. Lucia on April 15. This is the first time since 2019 that the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry has been able to host the event at CTK, canceling in 2020 due to COVID, and holding a smaller Stations of the Cross at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in 2021. It was also the first time for Bishop Lucia to participate at the retreat house, so it was a prayerful yet exciting night for all.

“We were super excited to be back at the retreat house,” said Bob Walters, Diocesan Director Youth and Young Adult Ministry. “We had a larger number of attendees than usual, and we were blessed with great weather.”

Steve Nepil, Youth Minister at Holy Cross Church in DeWitt and a regular at the event, was also excited to be back at the retreat house. “Just being together in community again to pray after the lockdowns was such a gift,” he shared. “I loved being able to bring teens from my parish and see the young adults and amazing families at the same event, too!”

The night began with stations being led by Bishop Lucia outside along the stations trail behind the retreat house. At each station, a youth from one of the diocesan youth groups read a reflection helping others to enter into the experience more fully with Jesus.

For John Sheridan, Youth Minister at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Baldwinsville, the reflections were a highlight of the night, as they helped make the way of the cross more personal and relatable. “Jesus felt what we feel and went through what we go through. If we can embrace the stations with him, we can embrace the Resurrection with him,” he said.

Nora Cass, from St. Augustine’s Church in Baldwinsville, attended the event for the first time and was also asked to lead one of the reflections. “It was an honor to do the stations with Bishop Lucia,” she shared. “I would like to continue to participate in the stations as part of my family’s Easter traditions. I also liked that it was outside.” Her mother, Kim Cass, agreed that walking the stations added to the experience in a special way. “There is something very spiritual and meaningful when you walk the outdoor path and pray at each station,” she reflected. “As a parent, I was also moved by the participation of the youth. Our diocese, and especially the Youth and Young Adult Ministry team, did an excellent job with the youth. I appreciate them offering opportunities for our children to further connect and commit to their faith.”

After the journey of the stations, attendees had the opportunity for fellowship and a free pizza dinner, which was a great way to end this special evening. “The social part afterward was such a gift because I was able to connect with my youth and families,” Sheridan shared. “I’m thankful to be part of a diocese that offers us so much. It’s incredible.”

After a great night, Walters was overwhelmed with gratitude that his team was able to provide this experience for so many people. “We’re so thankful to the diocese, the retreat house, the Bishop and everyone who made this such a joyful evening.”

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