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How local churches will hold Ash Wednesday during the pandemic

23ABC’s Kristin Vartan spoke to two local churches about their plans to hold Ash Wednesday safely during the pandemic.
Ash Wednesday
Posted at 6:24 AM, Feb 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-16 18:38:24-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — You may recognize when it’s Ash Wednesday by the cross of ashes on a person’s forehead.

“To wear the ashes all day long on their forehead, people in a sense take pride in that, but the fact that we can’t do that this year, means it’s going to be more invisible,” Msgr. Perry Kavookjian of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church said. “The challenge is for people to take it to heart. Not to proclaim it so much in the face of other people, but to live it in the interior life.”

Ash Wednesday, Msr. Kavookjian said, marks the start of Lent, the first of 40 days leading up to Easter, which this year is April 4. This is a time of repentance, prayer, doing good works, and abstinence, such as fasting.

“It’s a 40-day period to enter into the mystery of Jesus,” Msr. Kavookjian said. “We remember to focus on Jesus carrying his cross, and hopefully by people entering into Lent and making the most of it, Easter becomes a more joyful celebration.”

Due to the pandemic, Emmanuel Lutheran Church had to cancel their 11th annual “Ashes on the Street,” where they would distribute ashes in downtown Bakersfield. Other local churches have tried to make the most of the things during the pandemic and perform the service, even if it’s untraditional. Both St. Elizabeth’s and St. Francis Assisi Parish will sprinkle the ashes from a distance to avoid contact.

“These are directives from The Vatican and Father Joseph Brennan,” Rev. Dr. Theophane Anthony, part-time minister at St. Francis of Assisi Parish said. “This is to keep everyone safe.”

Father Anthony said St. Francis expects thousands of people, and will hold their services every half hour from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the St. Joseph and youth center parking lots. Msgr. Kavookjian said St. Elizabeth’s Ash Wednesday services will be outdoors in their courtyard because of the crowds they’re expecting. Masks will be required at both.

Father Anthony said anyone is welcome, and can find a sense of comfort through the service during this time.

“Ash Wednesday brings lots of hope, and faith and trust, so that people can move on with their God-given lives,” Father Anthony said.

Additional Ash Wednesday Services:

St Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church

  • 7:00 AM: Outdoor Services
  • 10:00 AM: Outdoor Services
  • 12:15 PM: Outdoor Mass
  • 3:00 PM: Outdoor Services
  • 5:00 PM: Outdoor Services

Saint Francis Roman Catholic Church

  • Every Half Hour from 8:00 AM to 7 PM: Distribution of Ashes

St. Philip The Apostle Church

  • 7:30 AM: Ash Wednesday Mass
  • 12:10 PM: Ash Wednesday Mass
  • 4:30 PM: Distribution of Ashes
  • 6:00 PM: Distribution of Ashes
  • 7:30 PM: Distribution of Ashes

St. Joseph Catholic Church

  • 8:00 AM: Mass
  • 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM: Distribution of Ashes
  • 4:00 PM - 9:00 PM: Distribution of Ashes

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Parish

  • 7:00 AM: Liturgy of the Word with Distribution of Ashes (No Mass)
  • 12:15 PM: Celebration of Mass with Distribution of Ashes
  • 3:15 PM: Liturgy of the Word with Distribution of Ashes (No Mass)
  • 5:15 PM: Liturgy of the Word with Distribution of Ashes (No Mass/Bilungual)