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Tri-State Area Residents Observe Easter Week Traditions

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- On this Holy Thursday, many New Yorkers gathered at St. Patrick's Cathedral for a Mass during which Cardinal Timothy Dolan washed the feet of 12 young adults as part of an Easter week ritual symbolizing Jesus' humility.

Holy Thursday is the day marking Jesus' Last Supper with his apostles. The ritual of washing the feet is called Mandatum. It represents when Jesus was believed to have washed the feet of his apostles during the Last Supper.

CBS 2's Tony Aiello spoke with Cardinal Dolan ahead of the Holy Thursday Mass.

"The washing of the feet was a role that slaves did. And Jesus did it for his apostles at the Last Supper, which was a great act of service and humility," the Archbishop of New York said.

Dolan said Holy Thursday is a day for leading through service, and pointed to the example of Pope Francis.

"This pope is saying, 'You know what I'm gonna do? I'm gonna go to some people who may not be able to come to me,'" Dolan said of the pope's actions.

Instead of holding the foot washing service at a papal basilica, Francis went to the chapel of a long-term care center.

He also continued the tradition he began last year. Instead of only washing and kissing the feet of Catholic men, he once again included women and non-Catholics in the group.

That approach has raised eye brows with some more traditional Catholics.

"In a way I think he wanted people to raise an eyebrow at that because that's what Jesus did when he washed the feet of his apostles. They were shocked," Dolan explained.

On Good Friday, many faithful will observe the Stations of the Cross.

At St. Joseph's Academy In Bogota, N.J., eighth grade students held their own reenactment of the Stations of the Cross on Thursday.

"Just knowing that God sent his only son to die for us, for our salvation, it's just a really extraordinary thing," said Tomas Mawad.

The eighth grader played the role of Jesus as students followed the Easter week story that begins with his condemnation by Pontius Pilate.

"The fourth station - Jesus meets his afflicted mother," Mawad said.

Station by station, the passion play continued.

In the sixth station, a student portraying Veronica wipes Jesus' brow, and his image appears on her veil.

The reenactment culminated with the crucifixion and burial.

"It makes me upset a little inside that he had to go through this, all this pain. But then it makes me happy because he did this for us," Kayla Mancini said.

In a culture that focuses on the secular "welcome spring" element of Easter, St. Joseph's Academy held the living Stations of the Cross to refocus on the reason for Easter.

"We are going to be talking about chocolates and Easter bunnies, but I think that we really need to understand the reason for the day," said school principal Jim Newman.

"It's wonderful because we often talk about how good are we at handing the faith on to the next generation. Somehow this is en-culturing the faith within them, even at this young age," said the Rev. Timothy Graff, St. Joseph's pastor.

"These young kids say this isn't just about the resurrection of Jesus, this is about his suffering and death. We run from the cross to hurry up and get to the resurrection, and you can't have one without the other," Dolan said.

There will be a Stations of the Cross service at St. Patrick's Cathedral Friday at 6 p.m.

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