Saipan’s Catholics celebrated the Holy Week and expressed their faith in different ways. The celebration of the Holy Week normally begins with Palm Sunday and the churches were filled more than usual of parishioners carrying coconut branches – some of them beautifully and artistically woven. Then the on the evening of Holy Wednesday, the faithful gathered in the Cathedral for the Mass of Chrism presided by Bishop Ryan and the clergy of the diocese.
The actual celebration of the Triduum begins on the evening of Holy Thursday with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, which commemorates the institution of the Holy Eucharist and the Holy Order. One of the highlights of this liturgy is the re-enactment of the Washing of the Feet of Christ’s disciples and the Reposition of the Blessed Sacrament to a beautifully decorated ‘Monumento’. This year flocks of people did their annual “Visita Eglesia” going from parish to parish with their families visiting the different ‘Monumentos’ and praying fervently. Numerous parishioners also went to confession offered by their priests even until midnight.
The following day, even before the 28-foot tall cross carried by dozens of men arrived at the summit of Mt. Tapochau, hundreds of devotees are already hiking up the trail on the early morning of Good Friday and lining up to pray and venerate the stone statue of the Risen Christ at the summit.
For Luis and Rosalinda Ramos and their four children, this Good Friday hike is their way to experience how Jesus Christ felt when he was climbing the mountain carrying His cross. The Ramos family from the Parish of San Antonio have been doing this hike since their children were small. “I do this every year with my friends as a sacrifice for Jesus,” says Christian from Mt. Carmel Parish. “This year is very tiring because I didn’t get much sleep last night,” he said.
Despite of tiredness and lack of sleep, many of those who hiked Mt. Tapochau in the morning attended the Good Friday Liturgies in their respective parishes beginning at noon with the meditation on the Seven Last Words of Jesus on the Cross, the Stations of the Cross and the Adoration of the Cross.
Immediately after the liturgies in the parishes, the faithful gathered at Mt. Carmel Cathedral in Chalan Kanoa for the Annual Good Friday Lukao presided by Bishop Ryan and accompanied by all the priests.
The culmination of the Easter Triduum is the celebration of the Easter Vigil which highlights the Blessing of the Fire and the renewal of Baptismal promises.