Thousands make silent journey across Brooklyn Bridge for annual ‘Way of the Cross’ tradition

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A stream of Catholics trickled over the Brooklyn Bridge in this year’s “Way of the Cross” procession on Good Friday — led by a convert who’s watched the stunning annual display of devotion grow from 40 people to thousands.

Jonathan Fields hoisted the 5-pound wooden cross, guiding as many as 1,400 people for the two-mile journey that started at St. James Cathedral-Basilica in Downtown Brooklyn and ended at Zuccotti Park in the Financial District.

“Crossing the [East] river reminded me of Moses crossing the Red Sea, I think of that sometimes when we begin to cross over and I see the water. It’s very symbolic I think,” Fields, 67, who converted from Judaism at the age of 24, told The Post.

Hosted by the Catholic movement Communion and Liberation, Friday marked the 29th silent journey which is meant to celebrate Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Fields, a church music composer, has been part of the trek every year since its inception in 1996, except in 2020 when it was nixed because of the pandemic.

The weather was good for the hundreds of worshipers who set out from St. James Cathedral-Basilica on a two-mile journey around 10:30 a.m. Friday in Downtown Brooklyn. AP

“I started going to the gym to prepare for this,” the Brooklyn native said with a laugh. “So it was a little bit easier, but the wind was hard.”

Fields remembers when the crowd was as small as 40 people and has watched it grow up to thousands over the decades, especially after 9/11, where a firefighter carried the cross from City Hall to Ground Zero.

“The cross that we use was made by a friend of ours in CL. He just found two pieces of wood and put them together, put stain on them,” Fields said. “And that’s been the cross used for the last 29 years.

Jonathan Fields, 67, carries a crucifix during the “Way of the Cross” procession over the Brooklyn Bridge. Stefan Jeremiah for NY Post

“I think he went to a lumber yard and put it together and it looks very beautiful. It’s the right size to carry that far,” he continued. “It used to be one person who carried it, now it’s more than one person. We hand it like a relay now.”

The cross was also carried Friday by Luca Lupi, Giancarlo Diaz and Stephen Adubato.

Fields also recalled how it was a hard cross to bear converting from Judaism two and half decades ago.

“At first it was tough, the first couple of years actually was very tough and I had very bad depression. I was very alone in the conversion,” he told The Post. “Actually, when I met this movement it was the first time I found young friends who were very alive with the faith and it basically saved my life.”

The “Way of the Cross” procession, which was hosted by the Catholic movement Communion and Liberation (CL), made its 29th silent journey from the church, across the Brooklyn Bridge, to City Hall Park, to its final destination of Zuccotti Park in the Financial District. James Messerschmidt

His parents eventually accepted his conversion and he met his wife through CL.

“They saw how the church had helped me and they became fans of the church even if they didn’t convert,” he said. “They saw what a positive effect it had on my life and became close friends with all my Catholic friends.”

Fields enjoys the event so much he’s even taken his three kids, who did not attend this year as they are “out of the house.”

The entire walk is done in complete silence, CL spokesperson Louis Giovino said. William Farrington

The entire walk is done in complete silence, CL spokesperson Louis Giovino said. And much like Fields’ conversion to Catholicism, “a lot of people” have a “really hard” time remaining silent throughout the two-mile journey.

“But that’s one of the most striking things about it is the silence,” Giovino said. “It’s solemn with all the noise. And that’s one of the reasons to do it in the middle of the day on a Friday afternoon.”

Jonathan Fields carries a crucifix over the Brooklyn Bridge on Friday. Stefan Jeremiah for NY Post
The procession was led by Bishop Robert Brennan and each year the event is “sustained” by a blessing from the popes and local pastors. James Messerschmidt

The procession was led by Bishop Robert Brennan and each year the event is “sustained” by a blessing from the popes and local pastors.

A group of people participating in the Way of the Cross procession over the Brooklyn Bridge on Friday. Stefan Jeremiah for NY Post
The group has reached up to thousands of people since its inception in 1996. AP

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