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Good Friday Drama Passion Play Marks Easter
An Easter passion play or reenactment of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus Christ performed at the St. Frances of Rome Catholic Church on Good Friday proved a moving experience.

While the play ran almost an hour and a half and at times was threatened by patters of rain, the crowd was several hundred strong and stood the whole time, the majority in rapt attention.

At times children grew restive and began to cry and mothers extracted them from a crowd that pressed ever forward. But the drama continued to hold its audience. The actor representing Christ refused to renounce his claims and desert his followers, Pontius Pilate tried to save him but was forced to free a thief in his stead, Christ was arrested, scourged with whips and condemned to death.

The Stations of the Cross - or Via Crucis - celebration concluded with the actors playing centurions, disciples, temple elders and others leading Christ down from the stage to carry his cross out among the crowd.

Like other local churches, the priests and congregation of St. Frances of Rome mark Easter each year with special services and elaborate rites at the holiest season of the year for Christians.

The Holy Week schedule began on Holy or Maundy Thursday with a bilingual Mass and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament that evening, continued on Good Friday with a Mass to mark his Passion (or suffering) on the cross and a procession through the Stations of the Cross, offered both English and Spanish Vigil Masses on Saturday with a candlelit procession into the church and concluded on Sunday morning with four more Masses.

Father Misael Avila and Father John Peter (Pragasam), who joined the church only a few months ago, led the services that cater to a congregation of about 2,000 families.

As Father Peter explained the Easter story in part, "on the Thursday (the day of the Passover) Jesus collected together his disciples to prepare them for his death. He instituted the Eucharist. He broke bread and blessed the wine at the Last Supper. He humbled himself and washed their feet because a Man of God should be humble. He was betrayed by Judas to the Roman soldiers who arrested him in the garden of Gethsemane and took him for trial."

On Good Friday, Christ was condemned (as a political agitator) to be nailed to the cross (a common form of execution in those times). Saturday is a day of vigil (or waiting) when Christians review the Bible story from the Creation to Christ's death and mark the coming of new life by lighting candles and carrying them in procession into the church.

Easter Sunday is a day of celebration with four Masses as church members celebrate the day of Christ's resurrection from the grave and appearance to several of his disciples before his ascent into Heaven.