Hampshire: Bringing the Cross outdoors


By: Jo Siedlecka

Since the beginning of Lent - two large wooden crosses have been standing at the churches of Holy Trinity and the Church of Our Lady in Fleet, Hampshire. One is in the doorway - as Parish Priest Fr Sean Tobin explained: "So that people don't have to come in." The other one is completely outside on the road. In front of them both there's a box with felt tips and small red crosses for passers-by to write prayers or messages on and fix to the cross. Already many people have written on the crosses. Fr Sean said: "There are prayers for healing, for forgiveness, and for peace. Its lovely to pass by and see them."

These large crosses will be brought into Our Lady's Church on Good Friday evening for the Prayers at the Foot of the Cross. Parishioner Bridie Stringer told ICN: "Writing on the little crosses gives people an opportunity to engage in a simple ritual act which is not controlled and choreographed but which eventually becomes part of a liturgy they know will take place, although they may not even be there. That may comfort those who are estranged from the Church. Those who are not believers will still know that they will be held in prayer at the holiest time of the Church year. "

These crosses are part of the In Jesus' Steps project taking place in the parish throughout Lent - (a more detailed report will be coming on ICN later this week). Outdoor Stations of the Cross take place at Our Lady's at 7am and 8pm each Wednesday of Lent. Alternatively, people can pray the Stations of the Cross themselves, using the booklets and MP3 players available at the church. The reflections can also be found as MP3 downloads on the parish website: www.htaol.org.uk/events/major_events

The Stations also featured on BBC Radio Surrey/Sussex on Sunday morning on Emily Jeffrey's religious affairs programme. The report can be heard from around 1 hour 39 minutes into the broadcast and lasts about 10 minutes. It included Fr Sean's recording of the 7th station (with some beautiful music) and an interview with parishioner David Parry who was a key player in bringing the project to birth. The broadcast can be heard on BBC iplayer: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04vj036

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