College students and visitors to downtown Phoenix will have the opportunity to have their feet washed outside St. Mary’s Basilica March 28.

Among the many rich traditions of the Paschal Triduum, the washing of the feet at the Holy Thursday liturgy, which this year falls on March 28, can be particularly meaningful, demonstrating the humility and compassionate heart of Jesus Christ. Beyond the liturgy, the washing of the feet also has the capacity to inspire, particularly when it’s tied to serving those experiencing hardship.

At the March 28 event, deacons, priests, religious sisters and other volunteers will also wash the feet of the homeless who visit one of three stations set up outside St. Mary’s Basilica from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Bishop John Dolan of the Diocese of Phoenix said the event is a response to the words of the dismissal at the end of Mass to “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord” and “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.”

“The liturgy itself is calling us to go beyond what happens in Mass and to go out to highways and byways, to go and announce the Gospel with our lives,” Bishop Dolan said.

“As we accompany those who are on the streets or those who are just happening to pass by, if we’re able to connect with them and show them our love and our gratitude that they’re present, so much the better.”

Judi Messer spent several years washing the feet of those experiencing homelessness in Tempe on Holy Thursday and said the gesture touched many hearts.

“It meant the world to them and it was very humbling, but it also was very gratifying,” Messer said. “It puts you back to who we all are. We are all created in God’s image. Just because they live on the street doesn’t make them any less apostles worthy to have their feet washed.

“Everybody that helped out doing that was just so grateful to be able to experience the humility of it all.”