Plainville parish puts new twist on Lenten Stations of the Cross for youth

PLAINVILLE -- A hoodie-clad Judas, a Barrabas sporting sweatpants, and a Virgin Mary in Nike shoes could be seen and heard at St. Martha Parish in Plainville on the night of Feb. 15, bringing a new twist to the traditional Lenten Stations of the Cross.

In a theatrical performance entitled "Were You There?" sixth-grade students from St. Martha's faith formation class donned biblical garb and acted out the internal monologues of various figures from Christ's Passion, including Pontius Pilate, St. John the Apostle, and St. Mary Magdalene.

"I think it's a great way to teach the children by having them participate in acting out different characters," Deacon Joseph Flocco, who led the Stations of the Cross in between monologues, told The Pilot. "I think it really impresses upon the children and, I think, the families that are there, what really transpired when Jesus walked to Calvary."

Maggie Hoagland, director of faith formation for the Plainville-Wrentham Catholic Collaborative, told The Pilot that she wanted her students to investigate the psychology of those who witnessed the crucifixion. She felt this was the best way to engage them with learning the Stations of the Cross.

"It felt interesting, because you really had to get into character," Jackson Burke, who portrayed Judas and Pontius Pilate, told The Pilot. "Act like you think (Judas) would act."

He said that after performing as Judas and Pilate, he feels like he understands them better now.

"He turned out just to be a dreamer," Jackson, portraying Judas, said about Jesus. "A dangerous dreamer. I'll admit it, I helped the authorities stop a deceiver of the people."

As Pilate, he implored the audience to put themselves in his position.

"I couldn't afford to have a riot on my hands," he said. "Another report to the emperor would've met the end of my career. After all, a person must think of himself. You get ahead by playing the game. Don't you agree? Would you have done differently if you had been there?"

Abraham Silva, who played Barrabas, was a little nervous at first, but felt good when he stood at the lectern to recite his lines.

"I feel like I'm happy to be part of the church," he told The Pilot, "and doing stuff with my friends."

He said that if he was present at Jesus's crucifixion, he likely would have gone with the crowd calling for his death, because there were so many of them.

"They had no clue what they were doing," he said.

Connor Jobin told The Pilot that when he stood at the lectern to portray King Herod, his mind was "going all over the place."

"This Jesus was so foolish with his message of sacrifice and selflessness," Connor said as Herod. "What is there in life except pleasure? Wouldn't you agree? Pleasure is the only thing that gives life any meaning."

"Herod" said that he would have spared Jesus's life if he had "amused" him with magic tricks.

"But he turned out to be so foolish that he wouldn't even talk to me," he said.

Connor, whose performance was met with applause, practiced his lines every night for several weeks.

"It felt kind of good," he said, "except the crown was a little bit itchy."