Youth group hikes five miles with cross 3.26

Written by David Green.

In 13 years of Good Friday walks, this year’s tops them all for weather conditions.

“We have walked in light rain and snow flurries,” said Our Lady of Mercy church youth leader Anita Van Zile, “however, this year’s snowstorm tops the list for the worse weather.”

She walked from Harrison Lake State Park into Fayette with nearly 20 church members—mostly from the youth group—just as Friday’s snowstorm unleashed its fury.

“We average about 30 participants annually, but one year had close to 60 people,” Van Zile said. “In good weather, we have had baby strollers with toddlers, and also some senior citizens. Bad weather definitely reduces the numbers.”

Van Zile was aware of a Good Friday walk tradition in Carey, Ohio, and she wanted to bring it closer to home. The first year, in 1996, the Fayette Community Walk for Life started at the home of Jane and Bob Momyer and covered seven miles on the way into town. She cut it down to five miles by moving the start to the south shelter house at Harrison Lake.

A lenten lunch is eaten at Willie and Lucy Rodriguez’s home on the way into town, with food donated by parishioners.

Along the way, walkers take turns carrying a large cross made by Ron Eisel from trees in his woods.

Jerry Van Zile drove in front of the walkers Friday for safety in the snowstorm and Dorothy McDowell took her usual place at the back of the pack. Members of the church youth group help organize the annual event, Van Zile said, giving them exposure to working with the church.

“The walk is a sign of our respect for life and to recognize that life is a gift from God,” Van Zile said. “We invite others to walk with us, carry the weight of the wood and take time for reflection while doing so. The day is intended to share in friendships, for reflection and to make Good Friday something special.”

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