Photos: Why this 5-mile cross carrying tradition is bringing hope to a community in recovery
Trailing behind an attendee shouldering a life-size cross, more than 40 Christian residents of Terrebonne Parish trekked the five-and-a-half miles down Grand Caillou Road, passing by several of Dulac’s churches during an event that has become a decades-long tradition.
It was the 35th year of the annual Walk of the Cross, which takes place every Good Friday, one of the most important holidays for the Christian faith. The event is meant to symbolize Jesus Christ carrying a cross on the way to his crucifixion before the Easter Sunday resurrection.
Hosted by the Dulac Ministerial Association, the walk starts at Bayou Land Worship Center Church of God. Pastor Jody Babin said this would be the first walk taking in the damage caused by Hurricane Ida.
“This is more effective than any other year that has been in the past because it's needed so much more,” Babin said.
Babin said he saw the walk, in which participants took in blue roofs and destroyed homes several months after the Category 4 storm hit, as a symbol of hope, and he’s optimistic others in the community will too.
Clanton Chapel UMC Pastor Kirby Verret agreed.
“It is important that with all the disasters we've had, that people know that God's still in charge. The hurricane really hit us, the pandemic hit us real bad. But yet people come together through faith, knowing that things will get better,” Verret said. “And we know there's hope because we've had so many people come here to help us. And people have shared their love. It's unbelievable.”
Verret said that in a time where many people have little, he has seen people come out in support. During the walk, Verret waved at residents watching from their front yards and helped pass out water during the bright afternoon.
“It's so important that we keep our community together, so that we and our children and grandchildren stay connected to the water and the land here,” Verret said.
Attendees carried the cross for as long or as short as they would like, and each transfer of the cross was marked with a short prayer for the community.
Recovery has been slow in this part of Louisiana — tarped roofs and FEMA temporary trailers still line the town, and even Verret’s church still had signs of damage from Ida. But they still ended the peaceful walk where they normally would, at Clanton Chapel UMC, where several men hinged up the cross on the church building.
The church may not be back to its pre-Ida condition — many places in Dulac aren’t — but Verret said it’s the people who make a church.
“We just gotta keep moving and still know by faith, we can make progress,” Verret said.