PILSEN — Pilsen’s Stations of the Cross procession, a beloved Good Friday tradition that attracts thousands to the neighborhood, has been canceled amid coronavirus concerns.
The 43rd annual Pilsen Via Crucis, which was scheduled for April 10, has been canceled this year, confirmed Nellie Quintana, president of the organizing committee.
The cancellation of the procession is heartbreaking, said Quintana, 41, who has been involved in the event since she was 10 years old.
“Because I have been participating for so long, I know the feeling that morning gives everyone,” she said. “… I know that our representation reminds everyone of the sacrifice that Jesus made for us….It’s a reminder of our faith, a reminder of who we believe in.”
On Thursday, the Archdiocese of Chicago announced Palm Sunday and Holy Week liturgies would not be celebrated publicly inside churches. That includes living Stations of the Cross events on Good Friday.
The Living Stations of the Cross re-enactments, an annual Good Friday tradition, consists of live scenes representing the day before Jesus Christ was crucified, each marked with crosses along procession routes in Pilsen.
Every year, a group of Pilsen parishioners reenact the Last Supper in the basement of Providence of God Church, 717 W. 18th St. In years past, the procession has traveled along 18th Street, stopping for a reenactment of the crucifixion at Harrison Park before ending at St. Adalbert Catholic Church.
This year, the celebration was set to end at St. Procopius, Quintana said.
Via Crucis is the latest event to be canceled as governor, the mayor and city officials look to curve the spread of COVID-19. Earlier this month, citywide St. Patrick’s Day parades were postponed.
Since witnessing the procession as a spectator in 1989, Quintana has been actively involved in the annual event, both as an actor and now as one of its 11 coordinators.
She said Via Crucis is a powerful moment to unite the community and observers who travel from other parts of the city and Midwest to witness the procession. The cancellation is a blow to the faith community, Quintana said.
“Since its the largest in the Midwest… I think they are going to emotional,” Quintana said. “…They are going to be in disbelief.”
While the public celebration is canceled, Quintana said she is thinking of creative ways to make sure the tradition continues this year.
“I don’t want it to go by without any sort of recognition for it,” Quintana said.
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