As we enter Holy Week, the week of our Church year to which all paths lead, I am struck in this my first year as a parish priest by the challenge of how to encourage people to truly make Christ the focus of their lives in this week. Many of our most practising families are already heading off on holiday now the schools have broken up and what about those who most need to know Christ’s nearness and compassion in their lives – the ones who never cross the threshold of the church or who have faded away from practising the faith? I read these words of Pope Francis in Evangelii Gaudium and think how far we have to go as a parish to live them out:
“The Church which “goes forth” is a community of missionary disciples who take the first step, who are involved and supportive, who bear fruit and rejoice. An evangelizing community knows that the Lord has taken the initiative, he has loved us first, and therefore we can move forward, boldly take the initiative, go out to others, seek those who have fallen away, stand at the crossroads and welcome the outcast.” [EG 24]
And yet, to lift my slightly despondent spirits and to show us all how these words of Pope Francis can really be lived out, comes the truly inspired and inspiring Runcorn Passion project.
In spring 2013, over 250 people from local churches and schools in Runcorn and Frodsham in the north-west of England signed up to take part in a community Passion Play. They were supported and guided by Ten Ten Theatre - the Catholic professional theatre company, for whose director, Martin O’Brien, this was something of a personal journey, returning to the communities which had formed him as a child. Week by week during Lent, in school halls and churches, the Passion Play, based on the Stations of the Cross, slowly took shape. Finally, on Holy Saturday, the singers, actors, dancers, musicians and readers came together to present this great act of witness in Runcorn’s main shopping centre. It was a profound and moving experience for those who took part and for those who saw the event.
One year on, Ten Ten are offering us the opportunity to share in this extraordinary journey. Starting on Palm Sunday, and continuing throughout Holy Week, Ten Ten are sending out daily emailswith prayers written by the people of Runcorn, inspired by the Stations of the Cross. A film of the entire performance of The Runcorn Passion will also be available online for one week only throughout Holy Week.
To sign up for the daily emails and the film visit: www.tententheatre.co.uk. Here you can also see a 15-minute short film which tells the story of The Runcorn Passion: A Celebration of Faith, and a Celebration of Community.
I can’t recommend this strongly enough! It opens our eyes anew to Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection and inspires us to think how in our own communities we could have that same faith to go out to others and bring the hope of Easter.