By Currents News Staff and Paula Katinas
‘It Is Such An Honor To Be Here. I Feel Closer to Jesus!’
PROSPECT HEIGHTS — For Jessica Figueroa, there was only one way to get into the spirit of Holy Week: being among the scores of Catholics from the Diocese of Brooklyn’s large and vibrant Hispanic community who celebrated Palm Sunday in a procession led by Bishop Robert Brennan.
The procession, which drew a large crowd — from children in baby strollers to senior citizens walking with canes — was meant to commemorate Jesus Christ’s triumphant entrance into Jerusalem, where citizens greeted him by waving palms and setting them on the ground along his path. Palms are recognized as a symbol of victory and peace.
“It’s definitely helping me get ready for Holy Week,” Figueroa, who attends Mass every Sunday at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph, said as she stood in Grand Army Plaza Sunday morning waiting for the event to start. “We feel very honored and humbled to be here. I’m here with my family. It’s just a nice moment for us to share.”
Beginning at Grand Army Plaza, the procession wound its way about half a mile along Vanderbilt Avenue to the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph on Pacific Street, where Bishop Brennan celebrated Mass in Spanish.
Before setting out for the co-cathedral, Bishop Brennan blessed the palms that were distributed to the participants with holy water. He was joined in the procession by Co-Cathedral Rector Father Christopher Heanue.
The march was a significant event for the faithful, Bishop Brennan said, because it helped to bring them closer to Jesus at the start of Holy Week.
“We’re walking with Jesus on this road to Calvary where He can walk with us and share our burdens to help us along the way and guide us to the Resurrection,” he explained.
This year’s event marked the first time since the COVID pandemic began in 2020 that the Diocese of Brooklyn was able to hold a large-scale Palm Sunday procession. There were no such marches the past two years, although some parishes held smaller processions.
“Today is a very special day,” said Co-Cathedral parishioner Yolanda Rodriguez. “We feel so proud of our Catholic faith. It is such an honor to be here. I feel closer to Jesus! He died for us. We can never forget that. He died so we can live.”
Despite chilly temperatures, the participants were undaunted as they marched along Vanderbilt Avenue. Many joyfully waved their palms in the air and danced to the beat of Latin music blaring from a sound truck.
Bishop Brennan noted that Palm Sunday processions are common in many Spanish-speaking countries, so it’s likely that the local participants felt right at home.
“For many of these folks walking with us today, this is reminiscent of what they would have been doing in their towns and villages,” he said.
Once the marchers completed their journey and entered the co-cathedral to await the start of the Mass, they rejoiced in their accomplishment, even if some felt a little tired.
“It feels nice. It’s enlightening and inspiring to walk the way Jesus walked,” said parishioner Alondra Cruz, who came with her family. “It felt nice to be with everyone.”