The Archdiocese of DC: Then and Now

A stunning Good Friday sight in suburban Maryland last week: More than 2,000 mostly Hispanic and African Catholics, some in costume, walking three miles in the chilly afternoon wind from Our Lady of Sorrows in Takoma Park to St. Camillus in Silver Spring in commemoration of Christ's walk to his crucifixion. The Via Crucis was held in three languages--English, Spanish and French.
At St. Camillus, volunteers reenacted the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Juan Argueda, clad in a white loin cloth, was bound to a wooden cross and raised over the crowd as several men dressed as Roman soldiers mocked him, and his costumed followers watched in horror.
The event is a striking example of the changing demographics of the Archdiocese of Washington on the eve of Pope Benedict XVI's visit. It is a dramatically different archdiocese than when Pope John Paul II visited in 1979. Fully one-third of the archdiocese is now of Hispanic descent, and a growing percentage are African immigrants, many of whom speak French. St. Camillus is a trilingual parish--English, Spanish and French.
Back to the Via Crucis. After his "death," Argueda was removed from the cross, wrapped in white burial cloth and borne into the church, where he lay near the altar while worshipers jammed into the church to mourn him. Archbishop Donald Wuerl gave an address in Italian-accented Spanish in which he praised the Hispanic Catholic community as a "special gift" to the archdiocese.

By Jacqueline L. Salmon |  March 25, 2008; 9:19 AM ET
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

I was at the Via Crucis. It was an amazing event. So many people worshipping together for Our Lord. I disagree that Father Wuerl spoke in "Italian-accented" Spanish. It was actually quite good Spanish.

Posted by: Liliana | March 26, 2008 08:40 AM

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