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This Man Has Been 'Praying The Steps' For 65 Years

Ambriehl Crutchfield
Jack Hoetting holds his rosary.

Thousands of Cincinnatians are climbing the stairs at Holy Cross-Immaculata Church today to remember the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

For more than a century, people have gathered at the Mt. Adams sanctuary to commemorate Good Friday. Praying The Steps is when worshippers climb the church's 85 stairs and pray in silence to reflect.

According to historians, Archbishop John Purcell had a devotion to Mary the mother of Jesus. While caught in a storm in the English Channel, Parcel promised to build a church if he returned to Cincinnati safely. In 1860, the church was completed on a hill in Mount Adams. In 1977, the nearby Holy Cross monastery closed and its parishioners joined Immaculata, creating Holy Cross-Immaculata.

Credit Ambriehl Crutchfield / WVXU
Jack Hoetting.

Jack Hoetting is one of seven children who began praying the steps 65 years ago. His father migrated from Germany during the Great Depression, and Jack was born here. He said his father made a commitment to himself that if he was employed, he would pray the steps.

"Some of his jobs may have not been that good but he did have employment," Hoetting said. "That stayed with him and he was an example to my family." 

He remembers alternating with his siblings on who could go with their father based on who had to work the egg route.

American Catholic Historian Walker Goller said Cincinnati is the only American city that does Praying The Steps. A church in Rome near the Vatican and Saint Anne De Beaupre outside of Quebec also has similar events.

The Cincinnati Archdiocese is the 44th largest in the country with more than 450,000 Catholics. However, people of various denominations attend the Praying Of The Steps. 

Mid-Friday morning, the Archdiocese released this time-lapse video of 2019's Praying The Steps.