St. Catherine’s offers ‘Ashes to Go’ to community

CHELSEA- Volunteers from St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church set up an “Ashes to Go” table in the Chelsea Winn-Dixie parking lot from 8:30 to 11 a.m. on Wednesday, March 1. Rev. Eric Mancil said “Ashes to Go” was an initiative to help residents celebrate Ash Wednesday, even if they were unable to attend church that day.

“We decided to do this to connect to our community. We view our role as a parish to reach beyond our church members and into our community,” Mancil said. “We figured that it would be great for people who can’t make it to church, but still want to participate in the tradition.”

Mancil said many people stopped to receive ashes on their foreheads, which is a tradition that churches from several denominations uphold. He said he also noticed everyone he interacted with seemed glad they were there.

“Most of the people who stopped either saw the sign or heard about it ahead of time. We’ve received a lot of positivity,” Mancil said. “A lot of people have expressed their excitement and enthusiasm about us doing something outside of our church’s walls. Even if they haven’t stopped, they’ve honked or waved.

St. Catherine’s Vestry member Pam Kimball said Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, and many Christians receive ashes on their foreheads as a reminder that life is short. As the ashes are being distributed, the words, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

“This is an invitation for repentance and forgiveness. Lent is a time to reconnect to God in a very solemn way,” Kimball said.

Chelsea resident and Citizens Observer Patrol member Jay Jerman said “Ashes to Go” made observing Ash Wednesday much more convenient for his schedule.

“We’re on patrol today, so we won’t be able to go to church today. This event is giving visibility to St. Catherine’s, and the church is reaching into the community,” Jerman said. “It’s creative. We need more ways like this to reach people.”

Jerman said several COP members arranged their patrol schedule to be able to participate in “Ashes to Go.”

Wilsonville resident Cynthia Hylton-Murer said “Ashes to Go” served as a good opportunity to share her faith with the people she interacts with on a daily basis.

“The least I can do is this. To be able to worship in a free country and to have a savior that died for us is a blessing from God,” Murer said. “I plan to wear my ashes all day. Hopefully, they will be a reminder to others about God’s forgiveness.”