Youth ministry revives Street Passion Play
On April 7, Good Friday, at nine o’clock in the morning, a Street Passion Play will take place along the major streets of Naga City, from Oragon Plaza in downtown Naga through the Central Business District 1 (CBD 1) and will culminate at the Our Lady of Peñafrancia Shrine and Parish.
The Parish Youth Ministry (PYM) of Our Lady of Peñafrancia Parish will revive the yearly tradition of re-enacting the trial, suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ on the streets.
For Suzette Catubag, chairperson of the parish Committee on Youth, this year’s passion play is significant because it marks the 25th anniversary of the religious activity since it was first presented in 1998. It will bring together all the volunteers who have participated in previous passion plays through the years.
Fr. Felipe Culvera, parish priest, said that the street passion play is a yearly activity of PYM. But this was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to pandemic restrictions.
In 2020, PYM has prepared for the silver anniversary celebration of the street passion play but the lockdown hampered the plans. In 2022, the play was conducted only in the parish compound or patio. Thus, this year’s presentation is considered the Silver Anniversary celebration of the Street Passion Play.
“Children, youth and non-churchgoers are attracted to the play because the heartfelt portrayal of the Bible characters is a very effective way of presenting how Jesus Christ, our Lord, suffered and died for our salvation, “ Fr. Culvera explained. “For some of the PYM members, participating in the play is their “panata”, offering their talents for evangelization work through this medium. They are highly driven and does not give up despite the physical and financial challenges. They have internalized the story of salvation which they are presenting including the roles they are playing.
Preparations for this year’s play started as early as February. It includes recollection, orientation and watching the movie Passion of the Christ to help internalize the characters.
“The bayanihan spirit comes alive in the parish as various sectors of the community help the PYM in this activity. The parish pastoral council provides food, former PYM members and others donated money for the expenses. Others helped prepare the props and costumes,” Fr. Culvera narrated.
“It was the Holy Week of 1996 when the late Fr. Noel Nacario, then an assistant priest, sought the help of Naga College Foundation's Cultural Arts Center led by William Espejo for the preparation and workshop of the cast which was only handful. Costumes and props were also limited, from cardboards, textiles and cloths. But as the years went by, the number of the cast increased and innovations in costumes and props got better. Some of the parishioners and other members of the parish organizations participated in the play to complete the casting,” Ms. Catubag recalled.
In every passion play, 80 to 120 persons are involved, including the cast and production crew. Most are members of the OLP-PYM, some are invited from other parishes where the play was also presented.
The PYM has been invited to present the play in Pili, Calabanga, Presentacion, Buhi and places outside the Archdiocese of Caceres. Initially, the play was presented within the parish jurisdiction only.
This year, the OLP-PYM will have three performances. They will perform with the young people of St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Milaor, Camarines Sur on Palm Sunday. On Holy Tuesday, the group will bring the play to the Camarines Sur Treatment and Rehabilitation Center in Pamukid, San Fernando, Camarines Sur. Lastly, on April 7, Good Friday, from 9am to 12nn, the Street Passion Play will commence from Oragon Monument near the Naga City People's Mall thru CBD 1 and will proceed to the patio of Our Lady of Peñafrancia Parish.
“With these street plays conducted over the years, I could say that there is a positive impact in the cast. Not only had it made our annual Holy Week celebration more meaningful but it definitely made us better persons because of the takeaways we had while being engaged in these activities. The nightly practices also helped strengthen the bonds of friendship. Most of the people who had been actively involved in the street plays had gained lifelong friends. We call ourselves “Mga Aki ni Ina.” This bond that we have not only with Ina but also with the parish and with the pioneering group of the OLP PYM is something that we can always hold onto as we go about our daily lives. It is something that will always keep us grounded and bonded, even if we are separated by distance,” Ms. Catubag shared.
-- Myrna Bermudo