“I am thirsty.” These words of Jesus on the cross were the theme for the 2016 Ecumenical Good Friday Walk for Justice in downtown Toronto. The focus was on the life-giving importance of water and the right of all human persons to this gift from God.
This year, Canadian Jesuits International was invited to participate by leading one of the “stations” of the cross, at Nathan Phillips Square next to Toronto City Hall. We focused on the importance of water in Syria, where a multi-year drought and the use of water as a political lever and weapon of war have compounded the desperation of Syrian civilians. CJI staff read quotations from Syrians, humanitarian workers, journalists, scientists and others familiar with, or suffering from, the lack of access to clean water in different parts of Syria. A poem by Ibrahim Barakeh on the theme of water, entitled “Vague Destiny,” was also read in Arabic and English. In the program for the walk, CJI also shared what is being done in solidarity with the Jesuit Refugee Service in Syria and in neighbouring Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.
The walk began at 2:00 p.m. on the shore of Lake Ontario, at Harbour Square Park, just west of the ferry docks at the foot of Bay Street. Participants then proceeded north on Bay Street, stopping at “stations” along the way and ending at the Church of the Holy Trinity (just west of the Eaton Centre) for a brief worship service and message from Kairos director Jennifer Henry. A simple supper of soup and bread followed.
The Ecumenical Good Friday Walk for Justice began in 1979 and has focused on a range of issues including peace, indigenous relations, the criminal justice system, violence against women and economic injustice. It is organized by a planning team drawn from several Christian denominations. Several hundred people take part each year.