PARKERSBURG - Many of those participating in Friday's Stations of the Cross walk between downtown churches had been to the event before.
But it was a new - and profound - experience for the Rev. Vincy Sebastian Illickal, associate pastor at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, who found himself leading the procession with a large cross on his shoulder.
"It was really an amazing moment in my life," he said after carrying the cross from his own church to First Baptist Church three blocks away. "I really felt the agony and the pain of what Jesus was feeling."
St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church member Doug Hornbeck, front, carries a cross along Market Street in Parkersburg Friday, followed by about 130 people participating in the downtown churches’ annual Stations of the Cross to commemorate Good Friday by recreating the walk of Jesus Christ to his crucifixion. (Photos by Evan Bevins)
The Rev. Vincy Sebastian Illickal, right, associate pastor at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church carries a cross Friday alongside the Rev. Jim Sallie, left, pastor of Redeemer Parkersburg. (Photo by Evan Bevins)
The event is intended to recreate in a small way the walk of Jesus Christ to Golgotha where he was crucified on the day now marked as Good Friday, a solemn lead-up to the celebration of Easter Sunday.
"I find it to be an important part of Holy Week that we can relate to Christ and his sufferings before the glory of the resurrection," said the Rev. Jim Sallie, pastor of Redeemer Parkersburg, a church that meets at First Baptist.
About 130 people joined the walk, which went from St. Francis Xavier to First Baptist then farther up Market to St. Paul's United Methodist. Other stops included First United Methodist Church on Juliana Street, Logan Memorial United Methodist on Ann Street and Trinity Episcopal on Juliana.
"It's a time when people of different faiths come together," said Sherry West, a St. Francis Xavier parishioner and organizer of the event. "I think it's an outward sign of unity to the community. We're much more alike than we are different."
At each location, moments from Jesus' fateful walk were recalled.
Tim Baer, who attends Downtown Bethel Church, was among those joining in the event.
"I appreciate the walk and just remembering what Christ went through on his way to the cross," he said.
St. Francis Xavier parishioner Kyra Senchyshak has never carried the cross in her three years attending the walk, but finds it meaningful all the same.
"It brings me closer to God, and it helps me strengthen my relationship with Him," she said.