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Features Lent and Easter

South Buffalo offers unique Stations of the Cross for those on the go

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Driving through South Buffalo, one will notice 14 crosses strategically placed in front of many area landmarks. With Easter coming, these “Stations on the Go” provide a way for all people to pray the Stations of the Cross. Visitors may drive, bike or walk to the crosses, scan a QR code for a prayer written by Father Bill Quinlivan, pastor of St. Martin of Tours and St. Thomas Aquinas. The codes also provide directions to the next station. The three-and-a-half-mile tour starts at Cazenovia Park and ends at Holy Cross Cemetery in Lackawanna.

Father Bill Quinlivan, pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Martin of Tours parishes in South Buffalo, reads over a prayer at the 14th Station of the Cross at Holy Cross Cemetery. Similar crosses have been set up around South Buffalo for a unique Lenten experience. (Photo by Dawn Iacono)

The idea came from Cheryl McNerney, director of Religious Education and Faith Formation at St. Teresa, St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Martin of Tours, who worried that families may not come to Church on a Friday evening to pray the stations because of home commitments. She devised a way for families to pray independently at their own pace.

“I was trying to think of a way to make it easier for young families to be able to pray the Stations of the Cross with their children,” she said. “Unfortunately, most of the scheduled stations are at times when families really can’t attend. Also, many children can’t sit through 14 stations. I started to think about how we could do something where it was always independent and I thought of this.”

Father Quinlivan found 14 landmark sites that he thought would work well as backdrops for each station. Two South Buffalo churches that have closed were included on that list. St. John the Evangelist and St. Agatha have a lot of history with the residents of the area.

“We still have people in our parishes that grew up in those parishes, who went to school there, and every time they drive by, it’s part of their family history. When we talk about family of parishes, we’d thought we’d include them as well,” said Father Quinlivan.

Visitors start at Cazenovia Park Casino, a big wide-open space that looks like the place where Pilate stood when Jesus was first condemned to death. Other sites include Mercy Center, home for the Sisters of Mercy, and Mercy Hospital Emergency Room. “One is a reminder to pray. Turn and face the emergency room and think of all the people who have gone in there with emergencies because a sudden cross comes into their life,” Father Quinlivan explained.

Castiglia Funeral Home on Abbott Road is fittingly the site of the 13th station because that’s when Jesus was prepared for death. The last cross stands outside a chapel at Holy Cross Cemetery to symbolize Jesus being laid in the tomb.

By scanning a QR code, visitors to South Buffalo’s Stations on the Go receive prayers for all 14 Stations of the Cross. (Photo by Dawn Iacono)

“We found great cooperation with the city of Buffalo and Olmstead Parks. People thought it was a great idea,” said Father Quinlivan. “All the places we called were extremely cooperative and immediately on board, asking, ‘How can we help.’”

A big thank you goes out to Bob Bruen and Jim Stack, the maintenance men at St. Teresa and Our Lady of Charity parishes who made the five-foot wooden crosses. McNerney and her son, Chuck, set them up just last weekend.

While planting the crosses, they met a Methodist minister from out of town who liked the idea so much, he plans to replicate the practice at his church.

“That was a nice message to hear for the very first stations that went up,” said McNerney.

They also met a woman, who uses a wheelchair due to mobility issues. She was excited to be able to participate in the prayers without having to get out of her van. Prayer booklets have been printed for people without smartphones or tablets.

As a pilot family in the Road to Renewal initiative, this was a way for the parish families in South Buffalo to work together, and for the actual families of parishioners to get to visit other churches.

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