By Kenneth J. Souza
EAST SANDWICH, Mass. — A newly-acquired crucifix that was previously located outside of Holy Trinity Church in Boston was recently installed in time for Good Friday at Corpus Christi Parish in East Sandwich.
Located on the corner of Quaker Meetinghouse and Service roads, near the entrance to the Corpus Christi property, the life-sized sculpture of a silver Christ hanging from a black cross has certainly turned some heads since its March 25 debut and even made a few people stop to reflect — which is the whole point, according to parochial vicar Father Riley Williams.
“The cross is meant to remind all who see it of the incredible love that God offers us, and of the forgiveness He offers us through Christ’s sacrifice,” Father Williams recently told The Anchor.
According to Father Williams, when Holy Trinity Parish was closed in 2008, the striking crucifix — which is believed to be dated from 1970 — was one of the many artifacts made available to other churches for use.
“The cross was brought to Corpus Christi last summer,” Father Williams said. “We thought that it would serve as a nice centerpiece of a shrine on a corner of parish property facing the main roads.”
Several dedicated parishioners got together to help design and build the footing for the cross; and several local contractors also donated their services and provided the building materials at discounted prices.
It was parishioners who ultimately planned and carried out the installation of the cross, which included building a base of rocks similar to those used in German and Austrian shrines — a tribute to the German heritage of the former Holy Trinity Parish.
“This really has been a community effort to build something beautiful to the honor of God,” Father Williams said.
Having begun the project last summer, Father Williams said they didn’t anticipate it being completed until late spring, but the recent unusually warm weather allowed them to finish the job well ahead of schedule.
“We were able to erect the cross on Good Friday and as the weather improves we are planning on further developing the shrine with plantings,” he said.
In addition to the new crucifix, Corpus Christi Parish also just renovated the lower level of its thrift shop near the main church building to house the food pantry that was previously located in the parish center.
“Looking at the situation, we realized that it would provide greater accessibility for clients and food deliveries to move the food pantry into a renovated section of the lower level of the thrift shop,” Father Williams explained. “In the course of the renovations we were able to create a multi-use space so that small group meetings could take place there as well.”
One of the goals in creating this new space, according to Father Williams, was to foster a more welcoming atmosphere and make it feel less utilitarian and more like a home for those being served.
“Our Lord teaches us to welcome those we serve as we would welcome Him, and so in this new space we have created a dignified and welcoming place to serve Christ in the persons of our sisters and brothers in need,” he said.
While there aren’t any parish outreach programs besides the food pantry taking advantage of the new space, Father Williams said they are in the process of “assessing the needs of the parish community” to determine what other types of services could benefit from the renovated facility.
“Our Catholic social teaching tradition reminds us that serving the poor involves more than simply attending to their material needs, but looking also to the care for the persons themselves,” he said. “We now have a dedicated space to welcome and attend to their needs.”
And during this Year of Mercy, there’s no better time to fulfill the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.
“Pope Francis’ proclamation of the Year of Mercy was the inspiration for both of these works,” Father Williams said. “Every crucifix personalizes the relationship of faith; it reminds us that, ultimately, our faith is in a person — Jesus Christ — Who calls us to follow Him and live as His disciples.
“As Christ touches our lives, we are also called to go forth and serve others in His name. It is by receiving the love shown to us on the cross that we are empowered to share that love with others. The Year of Mercy reminds us both of the root of mercy, and how we are called to do our part to help mercy spread to all who need it in our communities and in our world.”