Way of the Cross marchers seek out city's most vulnerable

Way of the Cross marchers seek out city's most vulnerable

Marchers in the Way of the Cross found the city's most vulnerable on Good Friday in the shadows of the new downtown arena and skyscrapers under construction.

Wet, snowy weather put a damper on attendance for the 37th annual spiritual event but more than 100 people followed a wooden cross through downtown streets behind first-time cross-bearer Thomas McKercher.

The march stopped outside several shelters for Edmonton's homeless population.

Just eight months ago, McKercher was living on the streets. He now lives at Immigration House, the starting location of this year's march.

He was excited to be one of the group of people who helped carry the cross.

"It's a chance to give back to understand why Jesus died for me," said McKercher. "I know the cross was a lot heavier for Jesus for sure. This [the wooden cross] is hollow but it's very heavy."

The sound of boots sloshing in the wet snow and puddles was as distinct as the voices of the marchers singing together as they walked.

Along with the wooden cross, the march had drummers and singers.

Homeless people stood outside shelters and watched as the crowd marched by.

This theme for the march this year was: "The cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor are one."

Jim Gurnett, a member of the Way of the Cross planning committee, said the march is a chance for people to get out of the comfort of their churches and onto the streets.

"What's the relationship between saying we're people of faith and how we act in relation to these social issues that make life difficult for many people?" Gurnett asked.

"That's what I value. Coming away with new challenges to maybe live with a little more integrity."

John McCormick marched with his 11-year-old daughter Kate and son Will, 8. 

McCormick's family has been to a few hockey games at Rogers Place, but he said that before Friday's march he didn't know much about the services for the homeless people nearby.

"I think this is more meaningful than being inside a church on Good Friday — to reflect on how grateful we are for everything we have, and how there are others that don't have as much as we have.

"It's a good lesson for the kids."

@travismcewancbc

Travis.mcewan@cbc.ca