St. Catherine’s brings back ‘Ashes to Go’ in Chelsea

Published 11:28 am Friday, March 4, 2022

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...


CHELSEA – St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church offered “Ashes to Go” on Ash Wednesday this year after a brief hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For several hours on Wednesday, March 2, St. Catherine’s Priest in Charge Sally Herring stood under a tent in the Chelsea Winn-Dixie parking lot and welcomed people who stopped by to receive ashes on their foreheads, an ancient tradition in the Christian church tied to the season of Lent.

“We had 23 people come by,” Herring said. “It was wonderful.”

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, the period of 40 weekdays before Easter representing the 40 days of fasting, prayer and temptation Jesus experienced in the wilderness.

Receiving ashes on one’s forehead symbolizes penitence, Herring said, adding, “(It is) to show we have asked for forgiveness for our sins, and we are believers. It also reminds us of our impermanence.”

As the ashes are administered, the words “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” are spoken.

“We were created from dust by God, and we will return to dust,” Herring said. “It reminds us of mortality.”

Ashes to Go not only provides an opportunity for anyone who might not have time to go to the church to observe Ash Wednesday, but it also serves as another outlet for evangelism in the community.

“Once you get your ashes and you wear them throughout the day, people will ask you about the ‘smudge,’” Herring said. “It’s an invitation to explain the practice, and it’s a form of witnessing. It’s definitely an outward sign of our faith.”

St. Catherine’s will hold a class series on storytelling during Lent.

The all-ages class will begin the first Sunday of Lent, March 6, after the church’s 10 a.m. worship service.

“The idea behind storytelling is as we tell our stories, we tend to understand our own life better,” Herring said. “Inviting other people to share their stories is a way to know one another better and see Christ in one another.”

St. Catherine’s also conducts its Beans and Rice Ministry on the third Saturday of every month from 9-11 a.m. at the church, which is located at 642 King’s Home Drive.

For more information, visit