Prayers, procession focus of Good Friday

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About five years ago, a teenager installed the traditional Stations of the Cross along a path on a slope above Seton-La Salle Catholic High School in Mt. Lebanon as an Eagle Scout project.

He has since moved on to college, but early on this cool morning, his father and more than a dozen others gathered at the scene for what has become an annual Good Friday tradition -- reciting prayers, scripture readings and other litanies in commemoration of the crucifixion of Jesus.

"It feels very good" to continue the tradition, said Keith Barnhart, who recalled helping to install the crosses, landscape ties and mulch to help his son, Andrew, with the project. "I enjoy this every year."

The Stations of the Cross comprise a traditional devotion that re-creates the final hours of Jesus' life, with prayers and meditations on 14 episodes ranging from his condemnation to his crucifixion and burial. Christians observe Good Friday and Easter as the time Jesus died and rose again to save people from their sins and give them eternal life. The group concluded with a prayer commemorating Jesus' resurrection on Easter.

The annual event is organized by the men's fellowship at St. Anne Catholic Church in Castle Shannon.

As the sun slowly lifted the early-morning chill, the casually dressed pilgrims walked along a mulch trail to each station, alternately standing to read and getting down on one knee to pray.

"May our sympathy for Jesus turn to those who here now need us," the group sang. "May we see Christ bruised in them."

Jim Stein, an organizer of the gathering, said the Good Friday stations here began as a way of supporting the scout project but has become "a nice tradition" each year.

"As Catholics and Christians, it's a very solemn day," he said. "It deserves reverence. When I was younger, I was an altar boy, and I would serve the Stations of the Cross with the priest, and my parents would take me. It's something I consider part of Lent that I like to be part of."

Peter Smith:, 412-263-1416 or on Twitter @PG_PeterSmith. First Published April 18, 2014 11:05 AM

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