Annual pro-life processions welcome new participants

BOSTON -- For 20 years, Good Friday has brought processions of priests, religious and families with small children in the Boston-area. They pray and sing in English, Spanish and Italian, carrying crosses, statues and banners, making the Way of the Cross through the streets in reparation for the sin of abortion.

In keeping tradition on Good Friday morning, April 6, hundreds of pro-life Catholics will walk in solemn procession through Boston neighborhoods stopping at churches or gather for prayer at an abortion clinic.

The events, organized by The Way of the Cross for Life, focus on the Way of the Cross, a devotion consisting of meditations on 14 scenes, known as stations, surrounding the death of Jesus. The Way of the Cross for Life prayers connect each station to an aspect of the abortion issue, such as help for unwed mothers.

This year a procession will be added in India, according to Way of the Cross for Life founder Colbe Mazzarella. Father Lawrence Tosatto, a priest who formerly served at the Madonna Queen shrine in East Boston, now stationed in Bangalore, India told his Indian parishioners and seminarians about the Way of the Cross for Life, and they are very excited to hold a procession there. Boston organizers are thrilled to have a new continent praying this devotion on the 20th anniversary of the first procession, said Mazzarella.

The Boston procession, which will start at 9 a.m. at the Government Center and end around noon at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, will make stops at six churches in downtown Boston. Father David Mullen will lead participants along the two-mile route and Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley will bless the procession as it arrives at the cathedral.

A second procession will wind through the streets of East Boston, also beginning at 9 a.m., carrying banners, candles and crosses. Hundreds of people pray the rosary in English, Italian and Spanish as they cross East Boston.

They walk uphill for four hours from Most Holy Redeemer Church near Boston Harbor to the hilltop shrine of Our Lady, Queen of the Universe near the border with Revere. Organizer Sebastian Martelli describes the walk as an imitation of Christ’s walk up Calvary. At the peak of Orient Heights they pass beneath the outstretched arms of New England’s tallest statue, a 35-foot Madonna.

A third procession once processed through Boston and Brookline, stopping at several abortion clinics along the way. However, in the 20 years the walks have taken place, two clinics along the route have closed and one has relocated. Now, instead of a procession, hundreds of people--most from Helpers of God’s Precious Infants-- will take part in a prayer gathering at Planned Parenthood in Boston, which provides thousands of abortions annually. The Way of the Cross for Life will be led by a Redemptorist priest from Mission Church beginning at 9 a.m.

In its two-decade history the processions have been free from arrests or violence, because they focus on prayer instead of protest, Mazzarella said.

Mazzarella, a lawyer turned schoolteacher and a mother of six explained, “We are making reparation to God for 50 million abortions worldwide every year, and for our silence when we should speak out against it. Being ‘personally opposed’ is not enough. Not only the abortionist and parents are responsible, but as it says in Romans, ‘also they that consent to them.’ We must not consent by our silence.”

The special purpose of all three walks is reparation: to ease the pain that abortion causes to the hearts of Our Lord and Our Lady.

Martelli explained, “There is no sin that God will not forgive. People involved in abortion may have a hard time forgiving themselves, but we hope to bring them to confession because it is the only thing that frees someone trapped by sin and fear. They are probably having a hard time forgiving themselves, but we are a people of hope.”

Mazzarella invites all Catholics to participate in the Good Friday processions. “If anyone finds it in their heart to come join us, they can help make reparation for this great tragedy,” she said.

If that is not possible, Mazzarella encourages pro-lifers to “Take up your cross and follow Jesus down the streets of your own city. Walk around your parish church, in front of abortion clinics, or to seven churches in the old Holy Week tradition. You will be blessed for your courageous public statement.”

For more information about the Good Friday processions or a free booklet about this devotion contact Colbe Mazzarella at 617-569-4570 or