Olney drums for the Christ

Olney kids join local church’s annual parade
By T Martin

Christ and St. Ambrose Episcopal Church’s annual Via Crucis through the streets of North Philadelphia boasted an added attraction for the third year in a row on Good Friday, April 9th – Olney High School’s percussion troupe.

Beside the youths already affiliated with the church, these teens from Olney High are rapidly becoming a staple of the Church’s event. They brought a new “flavor” to the parade as it moved from the Church’s 6th and Venango Streets corner through 7th, 8th, Marshall, and 6th Streets, and back to the church for a brief service.

The Via Crucis has gained greater focus as it, too, becomes a mainstay in the small corner of Hunting Park its path has taken for the last half a decade. Last year, church leader Father Carlos Santos was joined by Olney’s Thunder Machines in their debut with the Via Crucis. The year before brought a special appearance by Maria De Pilar, noted for “De Todo un Poco” of the Telemundo television network. And Joaquin Rivera, an Olney High School teacher and community activist, has long graced the parade with his musical talent as an integral part of the cultural aspect of the event.

As always, the drumming and musical talents of North Philadelphia’s proud Black and Latino community drew spectators into the action, and many bystanders and neighbors joined the parade as it passed their homes. Children on bicycles rode alongside parishioners for a block or two. Others would walk from one place to another beside the four women carrying a small statue of the Virgin Mary or just next to the truck bearing a statue of Christ on a cross.

Singing songs of praise and worship, Father Santos, parishioners, neighborhood youths and spectator revered the life and death of Christ through their words and the act of participation in this annual event. Even the children witnessing the parade seemed drawn to understand its meaning, evident in their asking questions about it as it passed their homes or through their block.

Ending with a short ceremony in the church at about 4:30 PM, the Via Crucis has gained in popularity and significance for North Philadelphians in the area, and it’s likely that the young people involved have shown their understanding of its importance with reverent participation since its inception. Many spectators have commented over the last three years about the positive way in which Olney High School, for example, has chosen to support both the community and the Higher Power represented in the Via Crucis hosted by Christ and St. Ambrose Church each year. KUDOS, and many happy Easter Parades to come!