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Tradition of “praying the steps” continues in 2016

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steps at HCI
Pilgrims pray the steps at Holy Cross-Immaculata Church. (Courtesy Photo)

Each year countless people come from all across the region to “pray the steps” at Holy Cross-Immaculata church in Mount Adams. The parish put out the following press release this week to assist those interested in participating in the experience.

For Immediate Release
March 23, 2016
On Good Friday, March 25, thousands of Cincinnati area residents will visit Holy Cross-Immaculata (HCI) parish in Mt. Adams for the annual Good Friday Praying of the Steps. For many area families, it is an annual tradition. No matter the weather, area faithful climb the steps, one by one, from the base of the steps to the church. It is thought that the tradition dates back over 150 years to 1860, when Immaculata church was still under construction.

In the early days, the faithful climbed a dirt path until wooden steps were built, followed by concrete steps in 1911.

Today, those visiting the steps can choose to begin from one of three locations: the upper steps, middle steps, or lower steps. The upper steps begin on St. Gregory Street just below the church entrance, and the middle steps begin on Columbia Parkway. The lower steps, which begin on Riverside Drive (formerly Eastern Avenue) across from the Montgomery Inn Boathouse, were repaired in 2009 and now feature wider steps, pedestrian-scaled lighting, and new landscaping and signage. There is also an improved pedestrian overlook at the top of the steps, just outside the main entrance to Immaculata Church.

Beginning with a blessing of the steps on St. Gregory Street at midnight by Bishop Joseph Binzer, people will begin to line up and ascend the steps one by one.

“There is no one way to pray the steps,” said Father Todd Grogan, Parochial Administrator at Holy Cross-Immaculata parish. “Some people pray the rosary, some read verses of the bible, others engage in prayer or silent reflection — it’s a very personal experience.”

Upon completion of the steps, our Catholic visitors may avail themselves to have confession with visiting priests stationed outside (weather permitting) and inside Church. Visitors are invited to enter the church to pray or attend one of the two Passion Services to be held at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

The Services include the reading of the Passion Narrative and Veneration of the Cross. Holy Cross-Immaculata parishioners will serve donuts and coffee from 6:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and will host a traditional Fish Fry from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. The church will remain open until midnight.

“Each year our parish looks forward to opening our doors to the thousands of pilgrims who visit,” said Father Grogan. “Some people think we are a church that is only open on Good Friday. In fact, we are a vibrant parish with over 250 families from Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana who are active in our many spiritual and social activities throughout the year.”

Again this year, the parish is incorporating one of its regular community outreach activities into the Good Friday tradition by encouraging visitors to donate canned or non-perishable food items for Hope Emergency Program, a non-profit outreach agency that helps residents of Brown County. Of specific need are items like canned fruits and vegetables, peanut butter, soups, canned meats and pastas, cereals, and juices. Food collection barrels will be available at the church all day on Good Friday and throughout the Holy Week events.

Holy Week at Holy Cross-Immaculata began on Palm Sunday, March 20. The parish also hosts a Mass on Holy Thursday at 7: p.m., the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday at 8:45 p.m., and two Easter masses on Sunday at 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

For more information about praying the steps, including recommended locations for parking, please visit the Holy Cross-Immaculata parish website at www.hciparish.org or call (513) 721-6544.

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