Holy Week & Easter Liturgies
Jesus and his apostles in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Passion of the Christ, on a grand scale
Jesus is scourged by Roman soldiers.
Lake County Passion Play
May 17 and 18, 4-6 p.m.
7010 Westlake Road
Upper Lake, CA 95485 (off Highway 29, about 7 miles north of Lakeport in Lake County, near the Robinson Rancheria).
Ample parking, but bring your own chair
No smoking, food, drinks or pets. Fresh spring water is available.
Admission is free, but tax-deductible donations are accepted.
Lake County Passion Play
P. O. Box 386
Lakeport, CA 95453
The Lake County Outdoor Passion Play, one of the largest such events in the country, will stage its 34th consecutive presentation on May 17 and 18.
The drama involves about 150 performers portraying the last days of Christ's life on earth on a massive 85-acre outdoor setting on the shores of Clear Lake, the largest natural lake in California. The site is about a two-hour drive from the East Bay.
Rev. Philip J. Ryan, a retired priest from Saint Mary's Parish in Lakeport and one of the founders of the Lakeport Passion play, said 20 acres are used for the play and the audience. The remaining land is used for parking and for the animals — sheep, llamas and horses.
"The ground level, where the people are, is the perfect setting," Father Ryan said. "It is all flat, so the people can see."
The performances take place on various stages and hillsides, and there's an outdoor sound system. Attendees should bring their own outdoor chairs.
The ecumenical event draws performers and helpers from throughout the community.
Father Ryan and his fellow priest, Father Paul Moran, had seen Passion plays early in their career, and with the help of some local people started the Lakeport play in 1981.
The first Passion plays recreating the Crucifixion began in the 13th century and were performed in Latin and used to instruct the faithful. By the 15th century, the plays became more elaborate and were performed in the local language.
One of the best-known Passion plays is the one performed at Oberammergau in Germany since 1634. In the South Dakota, more than 10 million people saw the Black Hills play from 1932 until it closed in 2008.
The Lakeport play is performed in May, Father Ryan said, to take advantage of better weather.
Smoking, food, drinks and pets are prohibited. "This is a penitential performance. It's not for eating," said Father Ryan. There is local spring water available, and there are bathroom facilities.
There are only two performances — in English — lasting about two hours each.
We'd like to do it more often, Father Ryan said. But because "they are all volunteers and nobody gets a dime," it makes it a challenge to put on more performances. Perhaps one day, he speculated.
Admission is free, but a goodwill offering or donation is helpful.
The play organization bought the 85 acres a few years ago for about $400,000. Every dime donated goes to the Passion play, he said.
"When the Church presents something appealing to the people, they will give," Father Ryan said.
"I have pledged my remaining working years to the promotion of the Passion play," he said. "This is a pledge I have made as a result of my total conviction of the power that the Passion play has to draw people to their Savior and I see it as an awesome instrument of evangelization in today's world."
Kayla Numazu and Jeremy Samson as Mary and Jesus, left, with members of their Pre-Kindergarten and Sixth Grade classes at St. John School in San Lorenzo offered its version of the Stations of the Cross for the entire school on April 4.
Passion plays in the diocese
During the Lenten season and beyond, a number of parishes, schools and organizations offer theatrical performances depicting the Passion of Jesus Christ: his trial, suffering, death and ressurection. This allows the faithful a contemplative experience.
Some diocesan groups offering the Passion Play include:
Church of the Good Shepherd
3200 Harbor St., Pittsburg
22nd Annual Passion Play
Information: Debbie Lawson, 925-432-6404
This is Youth Ministry's largest project each year and involves more than 85 youth and adult leaders.
April 12, 7 p.m. (after 5:30 p.m. liturgy)
Palm Sunday, April 13, 1:30 p.m. (after the noon liturgy)
April 16, 6 p.m.
Good Friday, April 18, 7 p.m.
The Way of the Cross
Presentation by the Mystery Players of Salesian High School in Richmond
April 11, 7 p.m. St. Agnes Church,
3966 Chestnut Ave., Concord
Good Friday, April 18, 12:45 p.m.
Christ the King Parish
199 Brandon Road, Pleasant Hill
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