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LifeRight resident carries ‘Cross to Calvary’

Nathan O, an 18-year-old from Fairmont who recently was released from 30 months in juvenile detention, carries a cross along Kandiyohi County Road 24 early in his three-mile walk to LifeRight Transitional Housing on Russell Street in Willmar, imitating Jesus Christ’s journey to Calvary. With Nathan, are three are residents of LifeRight. Tribune photo by Rand Middleton

WILLLMAR — Nathan O. carried a heavy wooden cross from the parking lot at Eagle Creek Golf Club to the newly-opened  Life Right Christian Transitional Housing on Russell Street, near the fairgrounds, on Tuesday evening. The distance is about three miles.

Nathan, who has the cut of a well-conditioned high-school athlete, said he just turned 18 and that he had been incarcerated for the past 26 months. He’s one of a dozen male residents at the former nursing home, three of whom walked with him.  

“It was my idea,” said Nathan. He discussed it with LifeRight Director of Ministry Jay Jenson and Executive Director and founder Mark Foss.  Both agreed it was a worthy and symbolic undertaking. The LifeRight van followed the tiny procession up County Road 24 and south down County 41, across the causeway and past the fairgrounds’ entrance.  

The distance, explained LifeRight Willmar program director Cecil Meyer, is a best-guess approximation of the distance that Jesus Christ carried the cross from Jerusalem to Calvery.

Meyer said the walk may help reinforce the residents’ purpose and commitment to a clean, new life. The faith-based program also stresses connecting residents to educational opportunities and other community resources in a group setting.

The former 32-bed, one-story unit opened in early July and presently has a dozen male residents. Meyer said they come from all over Minnesota, referred by churches, relatives, the probation system and perhaps word of mouth. Private donations fund LifeRight, Meyer said; the LifeRight website states that “room and board varies.”

The first LifeRight residence opened in Alexandria in 2007. A new residence and offices opened there in 2013; a woman’s facility debuted July 1, also in Alexandria.

Rand Middleton
Tribune photographer/videographer. Began working in radio and at weekly newspaper in Munising, Michigan, in 1972. Started parttime at West Central Daily Tribune Sept. 1974. Fulltime news/sports beginning Feb. 1979. Married to Tribune news clerk Donna (Miller) Middleton, formerly of Kerkhoven. 2 grown children. 
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