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Thousands to gather in downtown for Passion of Christ reenactment

Catholic leaders say in a war-torn world, the healing message of Easter is critically important.

SAN ANTONIO — After a two year pandemic pause, one of the city's biggest outdoor dramas is returning with a new route that will accommodate downtown construction detours.

Friday morning thousands of the faithful will pack downtown for the Passion of Christ re-enactment.   

As usual, the event will begin in Milam Park, on the west end of downtown with a 10 a.m. service. 

Instead of proceeding directly to San Fernando Cathedral, this year the procession, that provides a glimpse back in time to the biblical account of the crucifixion, will head north on Santa Rosa Street, then east on Travis, south on Flores and then east on Dolorosa before making it to Main Plaza for the culmination in front of San Fernando Cathedral around high noon.

At a preview of the event Wednesday, Catholic leaders said in a war-torn world, the healing message of Easter is critically important.

Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller said “The pain and alienation that Jesus experienced is still present in the world today.”  Listing a number of world-wide woes, Garcia-Siller said “There are many wounds afflicting our families, and communities:  broken relationships, violence, addictions and poverty and around the globe, hunger, disease and war continue to take a tragic toll.”

But, the Archbishop added “While these situations are sad and disheartening, we must not forget, that hope is at the heart of Christian faith.”  The rector of San Fernando, Father Carlos Velazquez, said “This is also a beautiful story of the love that God has for each and every one of us.”

Three of the actors who have lead roles in the production said they want people who have been away from the church during the pandemic, to use this as an invitation to return to faithful lives.

John Austin said he felt a calling to assume the role of Jesus this year, something he did once before nine years ago.

“Because of the pandemic and everything, I fell right now is the right time to give that message out to people to bring them back to church,” Austin said.

Cathedral parishioner Edgar Holguin is the director of the dramatization.  Holguin said over the years he has played every part in the production.  He said he is encouraged because so many members of the community have helped with the effort.

“It’s great to be back – God just put everything in line,” Holguin said.

Loreily Ortiz has the role of Mary.  Ortiz said “Come with peace, come with joy, come with love, come with knowing that you are going to be walking with your savior who is with you every single day.”   

Garcia-Siller said “What we are celebrating is the experience of Christ himself, and it is the hope of people, as they experience their own suffering, they can connect their heart, their mind and their feelings with the person of Jesus Christ.”

Holy Week events continue after the conclusion of the drama.

Stations of the Cross will take place inside the Cathedral at 12:15.

A Spanish language service, Las Siete Palabras, will be led by Father Valazquez at 1:00pm.

At 2:30 the Archbishop will lead a prayer service.

Reconciliation will take place in Main Plaza from 4:30 to 6:30pm and the day will conclude with a 6:30 event – The Vigil of the Sorrowful Mother, which symbolizes a funeral vigil. 

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