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Stations of the Cross re-enactment leaves man cold, shaking and ready to do it again

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Updated: May 1, 2013 3:23PM

It was a role Alejandro Avina had to be talked into taking because he didn’t think he was “good enough” to play it.

And when he did take it, it left him shaking from the cold.

But the 18-year-old said he definitely would do it again, if given the chance.

Wearing a crown of thorns and little more than white sheets, Avina played the part of Jesus Christ for the Pilsen neighborhood’s annual Stations of the Cross re-enactment Good Friday morning .

The 18-year-old carried a cross down 18th Street and finally was strapped onto it in the annual event put on by the neighborhood’s Catholic parishes to commemorate what Roman Catholics believe are 14 key events on the day of Christ’s crucifixion.

The Pilsen resident said a neighbor recommended him for the role, but he was reluctant to take it. His brothers ultimately persuaded him.

“I was scared really, you know? I don’t think I was good enough for the part,” Avina said.

He admitted he was “really cold” and “shaking” while on the cross on the early spring morning.

Hundreds of the faithful shut down normally busy 18th Street as they walked from Providence of God Church to the crucifixion scene in Harrison Park, stopping along the way to act out different events, from Christ meeting his mother to him being stripped of his garments.

Along 18th Street, thrift shop owners stood among their storefront’s mannequins to look out their windows, and barbers put down their scissors as the group walked past.

“He’s coming, he’s coming! Take a look,” one woman said to a friend.

Up above, an elderly man leaned out the window of his second-story apartment and made the sign of the cross as the procession passed.

Cardinal Francis George ended the event with a Good Friday blessing in St. Adalbert Church.

He said the event’s theme this year — “Jesus is the true light that guides our young children” — tied closely into the city’s problems with youth violence.

Earlier in Harrison Park, 21-year-old Emiliano Huesca stood next to Avina on his own cross. The UIC student was on his spring break and had volunteered to play one of the two thieves whom Christians believe were crucified next to Jesus Christ.

He said that actually being up on the cross “was nothing like in the movies.”

“It was more of a revival experience than I thought,” said Huesca, a Bolingbrook native. “I got to feel how it is to be in the shoes of this person. I could never say I could 100 percent identify with him, but I could a little more.”

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