By Cathy Harasta
The Texas Catholic
FORNEY — Amid heavenly aromas in the parish hall, catechist Teddy Lindberg spent the early evening on March 18 stirring the pot of homemade Italian Wedding Soup she had prepared for the annual Lenten Soup and Bread Supper at St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church.
Then she led her faith formation students into the church for a stirring performance of the Shadow Stations of the Cross by the parish’s high school ministry.
The two-fold Lenten observance has become a beloved means of spiritual nourishment and intergenerational sharing, said Msgr. Glenn “Duffy” Gardner, the St. Martin of Tours pastor.
The Stations of the Cross, performed behind a large white sheet to produce dramatic silhouettes, and the simple meal of parishioners’ contributions of soup and bread merge components of the Lenten message, Msgr. Gardner said.
“It serves to reinforce the concept of sacrifice,” he said. “The evening has been very well-attended. I always like to think of our students as angels during the day and thespians at night, but humble thespians performing behind a screen. It teaches them what the Lenten season is all about.”
Catechist Mary Myers said that praying the Way of the Cross allows young people to express their feelings about faith during the Lenten season.
“The kids really enjoy that it helps them to express their emotions more strongly because they are behind a screen,” she said. “A student can do multiple roles. And this event brings in the whole community.”
Siblings Rachael and Ben Barnes, members of the parish’s youth and music ministries, said that their participation in the Shadow Stations as singers made them feel God’s closeness.
“I felt moved and enlightened with the Holy Spirit while we were singing at the Stations,” said Rachael, an 11th-grader. “But I was really moved when people were coming up to me and telling me that I had helped to make their experience with God even more special, and I think that’s what has the greatest impact on me, that I’m helping other people get closer to God.”
Ben, a ninth-grader, said that he often had attended the Shadow Stations, but participated for the first time on March 18.
“It felt like God was looking over my shoulder and singing right along with us,” he said. “It was awesome.”
Lindberg, who teaches faith formation to the eighth-graders, said that the evening combines ingredients of service.
“It teaches the students to be giving,” she said. “The Shadow Stations make the stations come alive. Then the students help serve the soup and bread. Soup is something that reminds people of home.”
Then again, some appeared to have thrown simplicity to the wind in favor of creating spectacular works of art among the more than 25 different soups—Tomato Alfredo; White Bean with Ham; Fresh Vegetable; Split Pea; Cheddar Broccoli, and more.
Beth Wright, St. Martin’s Parish Catechetical Leader, introduced what has become a Lenten tradition partly because a small parish can enact the Shadow Stations without needing lots of participants. She also said that the complimentary soup meal brings people back to the basics.
“This event has really been a positive thing that gets the whole parish involved,” said Wright, whose husband, Jim, a retired fire fighter, supervised the soups and their arrangement on tables. “The beauty of the Shadow Stations, presented by the youth, is that Jesus’ journey to the cross comes alive for each participant and touches their hearts. We are really blessed that Msgr. Gardner not only encourages and supports these family intergenerational events, but attends each one.”
Msgr. Gardner pronounced the Italian Wedding Soup delicious as he dined with the more than 150 parishioners in the parish hall.
As his flock surveyed the steaming pots, each labeled with the soup’s name, and the baskets of breads and rolls, everyone found something appealing.
The small children darted from the inventive concoctions to a familiar favorite—chicken soup, for the kids, not to mention for the soul.