The St. Joseph Catholic School’s sixth grade class illustrated the story of Jesus Christ using silhouettes, shadows and light in their annual Shadow Stations of the Cross performance in Parish Hall this week.

Shadow Stations of the Cross has become a long standing tradition at St. Joseph’s that the church presents as a gift to the community during Holy Week, said sixth grade teacher Jennifer Fullerton.

This will be Fullerton’s 12th year teaching at St. Joseph’s and for as long as she can remember the play has been performed each year.

"It became one of the things that’s become a tradition," she said. "It’s something [the students] look forward to, it’s a lot of work and it’s something that they kind of grumble about while they do it, but when it comes time for the performance they’re so excited and proud of their work. You can tell it means a lot to them."

The sixth grade class practiced for weeks with the help of sixth grade teacher Steve Massa and Band Director Margaret Teeling to rehearse 15 stages of the cross from the moment Jesus is condemned to death leading up to his resurrection.

"What the students realize when they are participating in stations of the cross — they kind of go through the actions and they don’t think about it that much, but when they have to depict the actual things that are happening, they realize how difficult it is, and it puts it in perspective for them and makes it more meaningful for them," Fullerton said.

The students stand behind a white sheet and a single light casts their shadows onto the cloth. Props are kept to a minimal using just a wooden cross and a few costume identifiers, keeping the focus on the physical burden of the cross.

In between the 15 stages of the cross, a student’s shadow appears to the left of the stage kneeling in prayer. One prayer stated, "Never let me drive a steel spike through someone else through the use of bigotry or hatred."

"We tend to think of the prayers off to the side as putting it into modern terms for the kids," Fullerton said. "They hear the whole story and they hear the 15 stations and they think, how does that relate to modern times."

The students also study the stages of the cross each Friday in their religion class during the season of Lent.

This year’s performance was dedicated to sixth grader Keegan Smith who had surgery this week for a peritoneal dialysis catheter in preparation for dialysis treatment. Smith is working with a transplant coordinator to find a potential kidney donor.

Click here to view the performance in its entirety. 

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