Friday, March 29, 2002

Faithful return to the Steps

Curfew closed Mount Adams vigil last year

By William A. Weathers,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        By 11:55 p.m. Thursday night more than 150 people were lined up waiting to make the walk up the 85 steps to Holy Cross-Immaculata Church in Mount Adams.

        ED Duesing, 50, of Bellevue, Ky., and his mother, Vera “Boots'' Duesing, 74, of Fort Thomas, Ky., started their ascent up the steps a few minutes before Good Friday officially arrived.

        “Over the years we used to do this with my dad,” Mr. Duesing said of the Good Friday pilgrimage in which worshipers pause to say a prayer on each step as they climb to the top. “He died. I do it now with my mom. It takes her a little longer (than in previous years).”

Climbing the stairs
    Until midnight tonight, thousands of people will climb the steps to Holy Cross-Immaculata Church as they pray, many of them reciting the rosary. The church at Pavilion and Guido streets, Mount Adams, will be open midnight to midnight. Mass will be celebrated at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. today.
Forest Park walk
At 6 p.m., members of churches in Forest Park, Springdale and Green Hills will walk from Quinn Chapel AME Church, 10998 Southland Rd., Forest Park, to Forest Chapel United Methodist Church, 680 W. Sharon Rd., for a 7 p.m. Good Friday service.
Way of the Cross
At noon, the 19th annual Way of the Cross/Way of Justice procession begins at Fountain Square and concludes in Washington Park in Over-the-Rhine.
Way of Calvary
At 5 p.m., “The Way of Calvary — A Walk for Healing and Reconciliation” begins in the Kroger parking lot at McMillan and Gilbert streets, Walnut Hills.
Church services
Christian churches will hold Good Friday services, prayer vigils and joint, ecumenical observances throughout the day. For information, call individual churches.
        “I did it so long with my husband,” Mrs. Duesing said as she held on to the rail and slowly mounted the steps.

        “It's been kind of family tradition for me. It's been 45 years,” Stuart Press, a 49-year-old Northside resident said of the climb up the church steps.

        Only extraordinary circumstances could keep him from attending, he said.

        “Last year I missed for the first time since 10,” Mr. Press said.

        Then, Mr. Press said, he was working for Red Cross helping feed the police offficers who were on duty enforcing a citywide curfew. The curfew was imposed following violence and vandalism that occurred after a Cincinnati police officer shot and killed an unarmed suspect who was fleeing police in Over-the-Rhine.

        In 2001, the curfew prohibited people from “praying the steps"' until the curfew ended at 6 a.m. on Good Friday morning.

        By 12:15 a.m. Friday, the church steps were filled with people four abreast making the ascent. Dozens of others were lined up at the foot of the steps awaiting their turn.

        “May the Lord guide us now and direct our journey in safety,” Father Stanley H. Neiheisel, pastor of Holy Cross-Immaculata Church, said in prayer as he led the procession up the steps.

        The tradition of praying the steps evolved from Cincinnati Archbishop John B. Purcell's request that people pray for the project while the church was being built on the highest point in Cincinnati. And they did as they climbed the muddy slopes to the construction site.

        The cornerstone of “The Church of the Steps” was laid in 1859 and the church was dedicated in 1860. The church was constructed of stone quarried from the slopes of Mount Adams. In 1911, the city of Cincinnati helped the church build concrete steps to replace wooden ones.


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