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Peshtigo parish hosts ‘Living Way of the Cross’

Performance connects three generations of parishioners

By Jan VandeHei and Jodi VanVooren | Special to On Mission

PESHTIGO — On Wednesday evening, Feb. 28, students in St. Mary Parish’s Faith Formation classes presented The Living Way of the Cross at St. Mary Church. 

Submitted photo Hunter Bates portrays Jesus falling under the cross at the St. Mary, Peshtigo, Living Way of the Cross.

During the production, seven students acted out the Stations of the Cross to a full crowd.

The Living Way of the Cross is a live reproduction of the Passion and of what Jesus went through on Good Friday, from his condemnation through his burial. Participating in it is a way of prayer.

Locally, the tradition of presenting the Living Way began more than 25 years ago after Jan VandeHei, former religious education coordinator at St. Mary Parish, heard the production was spectacular. She founded and presented the first production at St. Mary.  

It was then presented to parishes throughout the area, including a performance at St. Norbert College in De Pere for the Congress of the Ministers.

This year, Stephanie Nault and Loretta Rich, with the assistance of Debra Meunier, faith formation coordinator,, wanted to bring back the experience that they had as high school students. 

Nault, who now teaches faith formation classes at St. Mary, had played the part of Jesus when she was in high school. Rich, who also teaches faith formation classes at St. Mary, was a singer while in high school.

In coordinating the production, Nault tracked down the script and made it her mission to see this production through for this next generation. Not only did she play the role of Jesus years ago, her uncle, Raymond Dura, was narrator for the production. 

Making this an even more meaningful experience, Dura returned as the narrator this year as well. His unique, powerful voice captured the intensity of the experience.

Pianist Kelly McGuire offered a solo performance of the song “Feel the Nails.” Haddie Nault, daughter of Stephanie and Joe Nault, performed duets throughout the production, along with Loretta Rich. Wesley Rich, son of Loretta and Bryan Rich, was an actor in the production.  

Audience members called it a very powerful and moving experience. The end of the performance brought the audience to complete silence, and some even had tears. When the lights came back up, the audience roared with applause.  

Performers:  Alexandra Staidl (Mary), Andrew Polzin, Brayden Lepinski, Hunter Bates (Jesus), Landon MacGlashin, Steven Drees and Wesley Rich.

Videographer: Charlie Cooper

Musicians: Haddie Nault and Loretta Rich

Pianist: Kelly McGuire

Lights/Sound: Jacob and Zachariah Staidl

Backstage crew: Rosalie Dura

Director: Stephanie Nault

Music Director: Loretta Rich

Faith Formation Coordinator: Debra Meunier

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