Larger than life: Outdoor Stations of the Cross dedicated at St. Joseph Church
CHARLOTTE — Sixteen larger-than-life Stations of the Cross, the first ever like it in the diocese, have been installed at St. Joseph Vietnamese Church in Charlotte.
The gleaming white statues were blessed and dedicated by Bishop Peter J. Jugis May 7 – just in time before the church's beloved pastor, Father Peter Tan Van Le, retires.
The Stations of the Cross, which now encircle the back of the church's property, have been Father Tan Le's dream for more than eight years. He got the idea for the stations in 2003 when he returned to Vietnam for his godson's ordination to the priesthood. He admired the Stations of the Cross at the Seminary St. Qui at Cai Rang, Can Tho. He brought pictures back to the U.S. for everyone in the parish to see, and he shared his desire to build similar stations at St. Joseph Church.
Parishioners have been working mightily to complete the project in honor of Father Tan Le before his retirement May 23. The parish's new pastor, Father Tri Vinh Truong, will be welcomed and installed May 29.
"This is a work of great desire," said Father Tan Le. "I thank God for giving me the opportunity to work with everyone in the parish to build the Church, and now before my retirement I want to give a souvenir to the parish which I have long cherished, and I am very satisfied."
The 16 stations, including the birth of Jesus and His Resurrection, were donated by a family at St. Joseph Church who wishes to remain anonymous. The stations were created in Saigon, Vietnam, and shipped to Charlotte for a total cost of $80,000. They are each 6 feet tall or higher, weigh more than 16 tons and took 10 months to create. Each one sits on a large concrete base and is individually lit with spotlights. The 16 statues ring the church's property, from the church's front door all the way around the expansive parking lot.
Paul Tran, finance council chairman and St. Joseph parishioner for 18 years, helped coordinate the project.
"I'm very happy to see the Station of the Cross at St. Joseph Vietnamese Catholic Church," Tran said.
More than 15 parishioners helped Tran in the preparation and installation of the stations over a period of seven long work days.
"As a parishioner, I am very happy to have these statues on the grounds of our parish," said Hang Nguyen, a member of the parish for more than 20 years. "I am also very happy to hear that our parish is the only one in the whole Diocese of Charlotte to have such a beautiful project. I hope our parish will be the place for other parishioners around the diocese to visit, to have a few moments of quiet prayer, and to walk through the stations and really feel the love that Jesus has given us."
Bishop Jugis blessed and dedicated each of the stations May 7 as more than 100 people prayed the Way of the Cross.
"It is a wonderful gift not only to the parish but to the whole diocese," he said to parishioners who had gathered for the dedication. "I am very grateful for this sign of devotion. Thank you."
After the dedication, 21 parishioners were recognized for their efforts in bringing the stations to the parish and those present were given a papal family blessing certificate acknowledging their work, presented by Bishop Jugis.
The Stations of the Cross at St. Joseph Church are open daily, located at 4929 Sandy Porter Road near Arrowood Road and I-485 in southwest Charlotte. For details and directions, go to www.charlottediocese.org and search Charlotte parishes for the St. Joseph information page, or call 704-588-9022.
-- SueAnn Howell, staff writer
FROM THE PASTORS
Read and listen to homilies posted regularly by pastors at parishes within the Diocese of Charlotte:
- Fr. Frank Cancro at Queen of the Apostles
- Fr. Patrick Earl at St. Peter in Charlotte
- Fr. John Eckert at St. John the Baptist in Tryon
- Fr. Timothy Reid at St. Ann in Charlotte
- Fr. Benjamin Roberts at Our Lady of Lourdes in Monroe
- Fr. Patrick Winslow at St. Thomas Aquinas in Charlotte
- Watch full Masses live and on demand, listen to homilies and reflections from Sacred Heart Church in Salisbury
- Listen to homilies from St. William Catholic Church in Murphy