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Saturday, June 22, 2024
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One family’s joyful Walk with Christ

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The Sarmiento family at Walk with Christ. Photo: Supplied
The Sarmiento family at Walk with Christ. Photo: Supplied

As many thousands of faithful pull out their favourite joggers and jumpers for the Walk with Christ procession next weekend, a big bulk of those attending will also be packing prams, as growing numbers of Sydney families are returning for what has become a faith-filled family tradition on the Catholic calendar.

One of the thousands of families will be the Sarmiento family from the Daceyville parish of St Michaels, who for the last 13 years has never missed the biggest Catholic procession in Australia.

It’s an annual tradition they love sharing with their wider Catholic family.

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For dad, Mark, the Walk with Christ procession is a shared “taste of heaven on earth.”

He says the experience of “walking with everyone, all of us proclaiming the same thing” is something that he, his wife, Myrna and five children, Dolby, Keziah, Amelie, Harland and Marlee, cherish every year.

Mark’s favourite procession moments include reciting the rosary beside his five children and 10,000 other Catholics. His favourite memory is marching behind his son, Dolby, a Year 12 student at Corpus Cristi College in Maroubra, who once led the procession behind the school banner.

As an acolyte for 24 years at his local parish, the opportunity to share his deep faith with the people of Sydney is something he relishes.

“It’s such a joy! And I love when people ask what’s going on or what’s this all about. I love to talk to them about what we’re doing and tell them this is us walking with Christ. You know, I point to the Blessed Sacrament, that’s Jesus there. And we’re just walking with him.”

For more than a decade Mark and his family have perfected a well-practised and much-loved tradition on the day.

“We go to our usual Mass in the morning. Then it’s, ‘Get ready guys! Get your comfortable shoes on. Grab your water bottles and get ready to see your friends, your cousins.’

The Sarmiento family. Photo: Supplied
The Sarmiento family. Photo: Supplied

“Because it’s a big event for the entire family. And then we catch the train into the city. Because it’s so central, it couldn’t be easier.”

For the family, marching alongside so many of their brethren is a great reminder that their faith can be big and public.

“It’s great to see faith is still there. We don’t see it all the time. But then there’s days like this, where tens of thousands say, ‘We are Catholic, and we are proud,” said Mark.

“The faith is not diminished, but our faith can be quiet at times. So this is more of a noisy, joyous reminder to everyone that God is still there. That God always will be.”

Of real importance for the family is the opportunity for the children to witness their faith in action and on display outside of the bubble of their Catholic school and church.

“At school they learn about their faith. But it’s bigger than just school and they can see that at Walk with Christ,” said Mark.

In a city where one can often feel alone in their faith, he encourages other Sydney families to experience this “spiritual high” at least once.

“Just experience it. Come and experience walking with Christ once and hopefully that’s just enough to come back again. That’s how we started. And every year more and more come.”

This year’s procession is supported by Catholic Cemeteries and Crematoria as the major sponsor and also with thanks to Aid to the Church in Need.

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