Seventeen years on and Ponoka’s Walk of the Cross is still going strong. The weather was warm and sunny on Good Friday, which gave participants another reason to attend.
Organizer Dan Helm believes 60 to 100 people come each year with much support coming from the Filipino community but he would do the walk with five people. “It’s not about the numbers, it’s about doing it.”
“I think for me it’s about coming and praying for the community,” he added.
Helm considers Christ’s sacrifices as told in the Bible when planning the walk.
“How would Jesus be praying for us if he was carrying the cross?” Helm asked.
The walk is not only a solemn time to remember Christ but also a social occasion for family and friends to be together.
Gay Cayabyab said the majority of Filipinos are Catholic and for them the Walk of the Cross that is taken seriously. Some people even put themselves on the cross. “Families are the focus.”
She believes Ponoka’s version of the walk helps them remember Jesus’ life.
For Linda Clark the walk is something every Catholic Filipino looks forward to. “It’s an honour for us.”
She would conduct the walk whether the day was sunny and bright, or windy, cold and rainy. Those who participate abstain from meat from Good Friday, which culminates in a large family feast on Easter Sunday.
Janny Smith of St. Mary’s Anglican Church enjoys the experience that has become a tradition for many congregants of the church. The walk helps them to have a small taste of Jesus’ sacrifices. “Hopefully to feel the presence of our lord.”
Another participant was Jessie Pei, who feels a community such as Ponoka benefits from these experiences. “It means a lot for me and for Christians I think.”
Rev. Beatrix Schirner of the Ponoka United Church welcomed participants to the walk. She was grateful for the number of churches for their support. “It’s both a solemn and happy occasion.”
The walk started at the United Church and followed a downtown route along 50 Street eventually completing its circle.