Ash Wednesday to be observed differently during the pandemic


Ash Wednesday is an important day on the Christian calendar, and this year it will be celebrated differently.

To keep people spread a part and safe, churches are using alternative ways to observe.

With more severe winter weather in store for Central Kentucky, making it to church may be difficult.

Stan “JR” Zerkowski, director of communications for Saint Paul Catholic Church, said, during a normal year, the church would be filled all day with masses in the morning, noon and night.

Ash Wednesday is a day to reflect on mortality, but also a celebration of second chances.

This year, Saint Paul Catholic Church will have limited services. Times and details can be found here.

“Every year, while we live we have another chance to become better people and to remain aware that time flies and that this is not forever,” Zerkowski said.

The church will be following eliminating physical contact.

“Ashes will not be imposed on people’s foreheads as usual,” Zerkowski said. “The minister or the priest will sprinkle just a little bit, a pinch of ashes, onto the crown of the head.”

He said that’s the custom in Europe, but it will be a change for American parishioners. It will also be done in silence.

“There will be no words either,” Zerkowski said. “Usually, during every imposition of the ashes, the priest would say ‘Remember that you’re dust and to dust you shall return’ or they would say, ‘Turn and live the gospel,’ but this year we’ll do it with none of those.”

A winter storm expected during the week of Ash Wednesday may be another barrier for folks wanting to attend in person church services.

“We can write notes, we can write emails, we can send out a card, we can pray for someone, so there’s plenty of opportunity even if we’re stuck at home in a snow storm,” Zerkowski said.

He said a change in ritual can still mean a change of heart.

“It’s a sign of our mortality between us and God, it’s not necessarily a sign that we need to be broadcasting around town,” he said. “We should be broadcasting the gospel by our living, certainly not by a cross that we wear or on our foreheads.”

Another Catholic practice that will change this year are the fish fries. Saint Paul Catholic Church will be hosting two pick-up only events on Feb. 19 and Feb. 25 at 5 p.m. Those interested can pick up their orders in front of the Ave Maria building for $9.

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