Odessan Sylvia Varela has come a long way in two years, and she said she owes much to her Catholic faith.
From being a wild, single woman to solidifying and following her beliefs, the 45-year-old said she believes God will see her through the hard times.
“For us to know what he went through — life is not always joyful,” she said. “We have to go forward with faith.”
That feeling motivated Varela to participate in the “Stations of the Cross,” sponsored Friday by the Odessa Ministerial Alliance.
The event, which drew about 60 participants, is in its second year and illustrates the steps leading up to Jesus Christ’s crucifixion through audience members physically carrying a large wooden cross to different “stations.”
Some members spoke and led songs at each of the seven stations while another person held the cross.
The Rev. Mark Miller, one of two alliance members to introduce the event last year, said the activity works to show believers their actions mirror those of Jesus.
“It’s trying to make the connection with the steps that Jesus walked and the events in our lives,” he said.
The Rev. Michael Mueller, the alliance’s secretary, said believers must carry their own cross to follow Jesus.
“This is important for us to get an opportunity that is not about us,” Mueller said. “It’s about serving others.”
Even though Varela dislocated her left shoulder after a car accident in June, her injury didn’t stop her and her cousin Liz Casas from carrying the cross through Ellen Noël Heritage Plaza for the event’s closing.
“That is something beautiful to serve the Lord,” Varela said.
While helping Varela move the cross, Casas said her participation was an act of repaying Jesus for his many sacrifices.
“I feel it’s a heavy cross I carry every day,” Casas said. “God carried it for us.”
After the event, Varela said she didn’t realize she had carried the cross over her injured shoulder.
“God gives us strength,” Casas said, smiling at Varela.
“Yes he does,” Varela said. “He gave a lot for us.”