A play on Passion

North Texas Catholic
(Mar 19, 2024) Local

NTC/Carolina Boelter

EASTLAND — Members of four parishes in Eastland, Cisco, Ranger, and Strawn will portray Jesus Christ’s suffering from 2,000 years ago in their Passion play production on Good Friday, March 29. 

The play will begin at 3 p.m. at the All Saints Family Activity and Youth Center, 12901 I-20 in Eastland. 

Martin Esquivel, a parishioner of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Eastland, has organized the production for five years. His involvement began in 2018 when Father Vijaya Raju Mareedu, SAC, former pastor of the parish cluster, asked for help in organizing the portrayal. In previous years, a small group of parishioners had held the play, but Esquivel and Fr. Mareedu decided to bring the play back and improve it “to a larger scale so that we could invite all of the local communities,” Esquivel said.

Lending support in the organization of the portrayal this year is Father Joseph Pudota, SAC, who oversees the cluster parishes of St. Francis Xavier; Our Lady of The Holy Rosary in Cisco; St. Rita in Ranger; and St. John in Strawn. Fr. Pudota has served in this capacity for one year.

“The Passion play is actually the reenactment of the Passion of Christ,” Fr. Pudota said. “It communicates a great message because most of the time when we read, we can imagine. But when we see it with our own eyes or it's happening right in front of us, we really feel how Jesus suffered. It creates sentiments and moral emotions for what Jesus did for us.”

Last year, roughly 150-200 people came to see the play, Fr. Pudota added.

The work to plan and produce the Passion play is no small feat. Esquivel said his committee’s work begins months ahead to start seeking volunteers, gathering costumes, props, supplies, planning stage designs, preparing the location, and getting the word out within the local parishes and to the local communities.

The importance of organizing the production holds a deeper meaning for Esquivel.

“It's more of a responsibility I have as a Catholic Christian to be able to help present this play to the people so they can reflect on the pain and suffering Jesus Christ endured for our salvation,” Esquivel said. “When the crowd comes together to witness Jesus's suffering, the crowd becomes part of the play, and you can see their reactions — seeing all their mixed emotions.”

About 40-50 people take on acting roles in the play, and some of them may even play two to three roles, Fr. Pudota said.

“It is a joy for them,” Fr. Pudota observed. “It is a moment for all of us to show our commitment towards our churches.”

The parishioners not only donate their time but also bottles and cases of water as refreshments for the day of production. Some even bring snacks for the kids, Esquivel said. Additional items needed on-site the day of the play are chairs and portable restrooms.

Fr. Pudota affirmed that the performance people will see is not a theatrical play but a liturgical celebration in the sense that it is prayer — a time where “we create a prayerful atmosphere.”

Those who attend the Passion play are invited to “come watch and be part of this religious celebration,” Fr. Pudota said.


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