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3/29/2013 2:45:00 PM
Good Friday walks aim at social ills
Catholic Sentinel photos by Ed Langlois
Fr. Nicholas Marandu, Alvin Benjamin and Teletha Benjamin of Immaculate Heart Parish carry cross through Northeast Portland.
Catholic Sentinel photos by Ed Langlois
Fr. Nicholas Marandu, Alvin Benjamin and Teletha Benjamin of Immaculate Heart Parish carry cross through Northeast Portland.
Jill Feyerherm of St. Cecilia Parish carries crucifix on way to Planned Parenthood in Beaverton.
Jill Feyerherm of St. Cecilia Parish carries crucifix on way to Planned Parenthood in Beaverton.
Ed Langlois
Of the Catholic Sentinel

Christians on both sides of Portland, including many Catholics, took their faith to the streets on Good Friday. Annual marches in Beaverton and Northeast Portland applied the story of Jesus' crucifixion to modern social problems.

In Beaverton, 225 walkers followed a large wooden cross and stopped at parks, fountains, a health clinic and abortion office to pray for peace, healthcare access and respect for life. Dogs barked and homeowners poked their heads out of doors as the singing procession moved down residential streets.  

The Catholic JustFaith/JustPeace community, at the station memorializing Simon of Cyrene helping Jesus carry the cross, criticized U.S. drone policy, saying strikes "ignore the sanctity and dignity" of life.

For the station "Jesus meets his mother," worshipers stopped near a public fountain. Teresa Baden of Rose Haven, an outreach to homeless women, told the story of a guest who lost her job and slowly found herself sleeping on the sidewalk. "She never thought she would have to ask for help," Baden said.

Members of the Faith Café feeding site led a prayer for better food access at the station remembering Veronica wiping the face of Jesus. John Kingery, a member of St. Juan Diego Parish spoke to the crowd outside a health clinic. He told the story of his brother's struggle with medical costs.

For "Jesus Falls the Third Time," marchers convened outside Planned Parenthood. "Jesus calls us to respect life in all its expressions: babies, the hungry, the homeless, the mentally ill, even felons and murders," they prayed. Worshipers at one point urged respect for creation.

Outside the Beaverton Social Security building they called on government to protect human dignity and the common good.
In Northeast Portland, around 180 worshipers walked out of St. Andrew Church to local schools, apartments and high-vice corners to pray for transformation of the neighborhood.  

The Northeast Portland group held their cross outside a low-cost apartment near Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and lauded projects that help people who are poor remain in the gentrifying neighborhood. Residents walked out into their balconies to watch as the crowd filled the street.

Outside King Elementary, worshipers voiced support for public education. "We lament the underfunding and general neglect," the group prayed.

At one station near a playground, marchers prayed for an end to violence, including war. "It's become clear that wars are really the dirty work of empire," said John Schwiebert, a longtime Portland peace activist. "This is not what the people want."

Marchers prayed for sustainable and healthy urban construction, better access to healthcare and legislative proposals that would allow immigrants in-state tuition and driver's licenses. Other stations on the route of several miles included a Boys and Girls Club and the local police station, where members of St. Francis Parish led a prayer of thanks for "many conscientious officers," but prayed for an end to racial profiling and limits on local police involvement with federal anti-terrorism operations.

The group prayed for an end to human trafficking at a corner known for prostitution.

At most parishes across western Oregon, Catholics marked Good Friday at their churches, listening to the passion and venerating the cross. At some places, like Holy Cross Church in North Portland, parishioners enacted the Passion. Hundreds filled the Holy Cross gym bleachers and others stood outside on tiptoes to watch the drama, conducted in Spanish with full costume. 

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