Profound sorrow, far beyond Julianna Nett’s 14 years, fills her eyes as she gazes up at the anguished face of an equally young, cross-bearing boy, his close shaved head circled with a crown of thorns.

The familiar scene of Mary meeting her son, Jesus, on the way to his crucifixion, depicted in the fourth of the Stations of the Cross, captured the attention Monday, March 25, of nursing home residents at the Fond du Lac Lutheran Home.

Nett and more than 30 classmates at Shepherd of the Hills Catholic School in Eden, located southeast of Fond du Lac, were on their third and final stop of a daylong tour of nursing homes in Campbellsport, Mount Calvary and Fond du Lac, presenting their dramatization of “The Living Way of the Cross,” a home-grown drama portraying Christ’s Passion and the Stations of the Cross.

“I’m happy we can bring it to life for the nursing home residents,” said Nett, noting senior citizens can’t always get to church to experience the annual reading of the Passion on Palm Sunday and Good Friday.

The dramatization is a continuation of a tradition that began 20 years ago by Mary Jo Moody, a fifth-grade teacher at Shepherd of the Hills.

“I found different pieces of music and put them together with the Stations of the Cross. We vary the music a little bit each year just to keep it interesting for the students,” Moody said. “‘The Living Way of the Cross’ is not really a play. It’s a prayer and devotional. As long as the children want to do the prayer and devotion, I’ll be here to help them. There is the more traditional way of doing the Stations of the Cross, but the students love to make it come alive.”

Students spend hours researching their roles, Moody said.

“They become the characters they play,” she said.

Students begin learning characters and performing in third grade. Most continue through eighth grade.

“I’ve been doing it since I was in third grade and had different parts every year,” said 14-year-old eighth grade student Fintan Floyd, who this year portrayed Judas.

“’The Living Way of the Cross’ has a lot of meaning for me because we are portraying what Jesus did for us,” Floyd said. “It’s important to get out to the nursing homes because they residents might not be able to otherwise watch us.”

This year the students put on seven performances; besides nursing homes they also staged it in churches and schools.

“Nursing home day is our favorite day because we want to reach out to the elderly,” Moody said. “They are so wise and spiritual. The elderly have given us so many gifts. We want to give them something back.”

Monday’s Fond du Lac stop was at a Lutheran nursing home because the original Fond du Lac stop at St. Francis Home was cancelled due to a flu outbreak at that facility.

That was just fine for Lutheran Home resident Margaret Kaiser, 98, a member of Fond du Lac’s Holy Family Catholic Community Parish.

“It was so wonderful. I had never seen it before and it was so beautiful,” Kaiser said.