- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 19, 2003

Hundreds around the region yesterday participated in Good Friday observances to commemorate the day Christians believe Jesus Christ died on the cross for the salvation of souls.
At Our Lady, Queen of the Americas, in Northwest, members of the predominately Hispanic congregation walked about a mile from the church to the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in a symbolic retracing of Jesus' final steps. The tradition, which is common in congregations worldwide, goes back to 1970 at the church at 2200 California St. NW.
Salomon Carrasco, 62, of Northwest led the procession carrying a wooden cross that stood 8 feet tall and 4 feet wide. He has carried the cross in the annual procession 16 times.
"It's nice to do it," Mr. Carrasco said. "This is what Jesus carried. We're human beings. We can do it, too."
The procession began at 2:45 p.m. with about 200 worshippers following Mr. Carrasco. The group walked south on Connecticut Avenue, guided by a police escort and a pickup truck from which hymns and prayers were played over a loudspeaker.
Behind Mr. Carrasco, several men carried a glass coffin with a figure of Jesus laying inside, surrounded by flowers. Others carried wooden platforms adorned with ornate statues of Jesus and his mother Mary.
Yanina Gomez of Mount Pleasant pushed her 10-month-old son, Oslyn, along the route.
A native of Honduras, Mrs. Gomez, 31, said she has been walking in the procession every year since she came to the District 16 years ago.
"This is a tradition," she said. "We do it in our country basically just to remind ourselves of Jesus' sacrifice."
Pedestrians and drivers waited as police closed intersections along the route. In DuPont Circle, several people took photographs of the procession.
By the time the group reached St. Matthew's at 1725 Rhode Island Ave. NW, the length of the procession had nearly doubled.
Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop of Washington, greeted the worshippers as they entered the cathedral for the afternoon liturgy, which was conducted in Spanish.
In Landover, about 50 persons took part in a service with ministers from the District, Maryland, Virginia and New York calling for replacing the cross with a crown as the symbol of Christianity. They said the cross represents suffering and the crown victory, adding that the change could help unite Christians with their Jewish and Islamic brethren.
The worshippers sang "The Rugged Old Cross," a hymn written in 1912 by the late Rev. George Bennard, stressing the line "I will cling to the old rugged cross/And exchange it someday for a crown."
At the Lively Stone Worship Center, the noon service was one of more than 100 similar ceremonies held around the country yesterday, said the Rev. Phillip Schanker of the Unification Church. The services were organized by the American Clergy Leadership Conference, a multidenominational coalition of ministers affiliated with the Rev. Sun Myung Moon.
In other observances, worshippers at Our Lady of Sorrows in Takoma Park walked from their church to St. Camillus Church in Silver Spring.
Parishioners at St. Michael the Archangel in Silver Spring walked around the church before a 3 p.m. Liturgy of the Lord's Passion.
The congregation of the multicultural Shrine of the Sacred Heart at 16th Street and Park Road NW held a Passion Play, a drama of Jesus' last days, in the sanctuary. They also walked a symbolic route that ended at the church.

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