Large Numbers Walk the Nine Churches on Good Friday
As members of the Jesuit High School community enter into the holiest time of the Church’s calendar, some 250 students, alumni, and friends of Jesuit came together early on Good Friday morning to “walk the nine churches.”
Although the origins of the Nine Churches Walk remain obscure – and debate surrounding the origins is a feature of every journey on Good Friday – the mystery did nothing to dampen the spirits of Catholics seeking to enter into the suffering of Christ on the day that celebrates his way of the cross and crucifixion.
In addition to being one of the two full fast days in the liturgical year, Good Friday is also an opportunity to pray the stations of the cross or to attend the Service of the Lord’s Passion in the afternoon as part of the liturgy of the Paschal Triduum. The Jesuit walking group prayed one or two of the stations at each Church along the six mile route.
Another prominent feature of the walking pilgrimage was the starkness of the sanctuary found in each church. No matter how many times people do the walk, it is a common experience to find oneself dipping a hand into an empty holy water font or genuflecting before an empty tabernacle. The altar is stripped, and statues are covered. No Mass is said anywhere in the world on Good Friday. The combination of the absence of sacred images and objects as well as fasting from food reminds Catholics through their senses of the emptiness felt as Christ is taken away in death.
Beginning on Napoleon Ave. at St. Stephen’s Church, the route followed the bend in the river through uptown to the CBD and French Quarter, ending at the Jesuit Church of the Immaculate Conception on Baronne St. The Jesuit Church is next the original site of Jesuit High School, which was called the College of the Immaculate Conception in its time at that location.
Brandon Briscoe ’98 returned for another year of giving brief histories of each church upon arrival. The group would then pray the Stations of the Cross, broken up over the course of the walk. Fr. Kevin Dyer, S.J. Jesuit’s chaplain, led the prayers at the beginning of each station, and members of Student Ministry read the mediation for each station. Peter Flores ’09 was responsible for keeping the group together along the way.
Jesuit High School wishes everyone with whom it shares the mission of Catholic formation in the City of New Orleans a most blessed Easter.