The Way of the Cross: A Passion Pilgrimage Through Song

Led by Grammy® Award winner and Director of the Notre Dame Folk Choir Dr. J.J. Wright, this series will introduce The Passion, a new artistic production combining Scripture with original poetry and set to original music. Through Christ’s Passion, we learn to encounter suffering and incarnate love, to behold one another in our “not-enoughness.” As we enter the upcoming Lenten and Easter seasons, we invite you to journey with the Folk Choir and some of our closest collaborators through the development, rehearsal, and performance process of The Passion. Along the way, we will explore the Passion and Resurrection in light of the most pressing issues on the minds of our students, including the clergy sexual abuse crisis, the role of women in the Church, and climate change.
Sep 23, 2023

Top 10 Learning Moments

  1. One of the incredible things about the Passion [and] about the Christian faith is that we’re constantly invited back into this conversation with Jesus, with God, to understand who we really are, and try to figure out the ways that we can become who we want to become. — J.J. Wright
  2. [The Passion] takes place on Holy Saturday, and the disciples are remembering the life and death of Jesus, their friend, in the Upper Room, so they’re scared, they’re communally grieving and remembering for the first time, and they’re in this liminal space between death and resurrection. — Anna Staud
  3. I got to identify with the disciples in the garden, who were questioning and tired and exhausted, and just utterly confused, that their friend, who they saw transfigured in glory was now sweating blood in the garden, and in utter agony. — Anna Staud
  4. The work that we need to do in the church right now is to make visible that invisible work that women and actually all laypeople are doing. — Kim Belcher
  5. This Passion depicts a community working through acute pain collectively and with conversation and listening as their main tool. — Tristan Cooley
  6. This Passion is another way for the student to see how the ancient tradition is not only relevant but maybe even vital to making sense of life. — Eric T. Styles
  7. There is no determinant solution to wicked problems; however, in staying with them long enough, one can hope to find a solution. This same solidarity model is application to one’s faith: if one sticks with faith long enough to experience suffering, reflection, and growth, when the next roadblock or temptation to abandon Christ occurs, one will have a belt of “interior tools” to manage that temptation.
  8. The Passion highlights the impact lay people can have on a community and a Church through characters like Mary Magdalene. In viewing the issue of women’s role in the Church through the lens of the Paschal Mystery, the problem becomes more clear and a goal emerges: “to make visible that invisible work that women and actually all laypeople are doing” in their parishes.
  9. While differences in faith, politics, and experience can divide us, examination of wicked problems through the lens of the Paschal Mystery can unveil the solution that is best for mankind.

Interested in learning more?

This series is hosted by ThinkND, the University of Notre Dame’s online learning community that connects you with videos, podcasts, articles, courses, and other resources to inspire minds and spark conversations on everything from faith and politics to science, technology, and your career.

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Featured Speakers

J.J. Wright, Director, Notre Dame Folk Choir

Kim Belcher, Professor in the Department of Theology, University of Notre Dame

Anna Staud, Senior, Co-President of the Notre Dame Folk Choir, and Assistant Stage Director of The Passion

Noelle Dorvault, First-year member of the Notre Dame Folk Choir

Tristan Cooley, Librettist for The Passion

Eric T. Styles, Rector of Carroll Hall and Host of the Podcast Meet Father Rivers, University of Notre Dame

This Passion is another way for the student to see how the ancient tradition is not only relevant but maybe even vital to making sense of life.

— Eric T. Styles

Workshopping The Song

After the May 2021 workshop, we continued revising based on audience and performer feedback.

Technical Refinements of The Song

After the January 2022 technical rehearsal performance, we continued revising based on audience and performer feedback.

A Peek Behind the Curtain: Holy Land Pilgrimage Prayers and Reflections

The Notre Dame Folk Choir is delighted to share with you a special resource created just for their pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Featuring a special novena written by Passion librettist Tristan Cooley, this special booklet of prayers, Scripture, and reflections compiled by Folk Choir director J.J. Wright is interwoven with lyrical passages from the Passion that bring the holy sites visited by the Folk Choir to life. On their visit to the Church of the Pater Noster on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, the Folk Choir paused to gather and raise their voices in song as they prayed the Our Father, and we share that recording below. Join with the Folk Choir to experience the Holy Land through their eyes as they walk in the footsteps of The Way of the Cross: A Passion Pilgrimage through Song.