Province’s Parishes Observe Ash Wednesday

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Parishes and ministries throughout Holy Name Province commemorated the beginning of Lent last week with Ash Wednesday services. From New England to Florida, the Province recognized this season of penance, reflection, fasting and preparation  for Christ’s resurrection. Descriptions of some of the observances are described here. 

Boston Services Draw Crowd
At St. Anthony Shrine in Boston there were lines out the door, down the street, and around the corner as more than 40,000 people waited to receive ashes, according to Diane Monaghan, director of development for the Shrine.

“Many people say that nobody goes to church anymore,” commented one visitor to the Shrine. That definitely isn’t true here!”   Each of the 11 Masses on Wednesday was packed with people ready to hear the Gospel and begin their Lenten season.

Ash Wednesday traditionally marks the beginning of the Shrine’s annual campaign. The focus the St. Anthony Shrine’s Franciscan Campaign 2007 is the San Damiano Cross and its many messages. David Convertino and the music ministry at the Shrine produced a DVD highlighting various illustrations on the cross and urging listeners to respond to the message of “I have no eyes, heart, hands, feet, or face… but yours.”  More than 30 Shrine “regulars” are depicted in the DVD, according to Diane. David will announce details about the campaign at each of the Shrine’s 13 weekend Masses.

From 6 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Feb. 21, friars and Shrine staff greeted visitors and distributed campaign literature. Among the crowd were many children, young professionals, business leaders, construction workers, and teens, as well as street people and an occasional protester.

At the invitation of Mayor Thomas Menino, John Maganzini and Bill Fitzgerald went to City Hall to distribute ashes to the mayor and his staff.

Providence Holds Choral Vespers
The downtown Providence, R.I., location of St. Francis Chapel makes it convenient for people to drop by there for ashes and a bit of prayer, according to Frank Sevola.  

In addition to the three daily Masses, Frank said that ashes were distributed throughout the day at the Chapel.  The day ended with choral vespers services at Church of St. Mary on Broadway featuring the St. Mary Parish Choir.

North Jersey Services
In Wood-Ridge N.J., Brian Cullinane, pictured, blessed ashes and distributed them to approximately 300 people at a 3:30 service. Before ashes were distributed, Deacon Arthur Cauceglia reflected on the challenges of Lent.

At Our Lady of the Holy Angels in Little Falls, N.J., a palm burning service took place on Feb. 20.  The Tuesday before Ash Wednesday is traditionally marked with a special celebration for this parish, according to pastor Robert Sandoz. Parishioners gather in the church for a service including song, proclamation of the Word of God, a farewell to the Alleluia meditation, the burning of palms and a community gathering.

New York Holds Services in Churches, Offices 
At the Provincial office in midtown Manhattan, a Mass presided by Provincial Minister John O’Connor was held at midday on Ash Wednesday for the friars and staff members of the office.

At the Church of St. Francis of Assisi on West 31st Street, ashes were imposed in two locations — in the Lower church from 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and in the Upper Church in the evening. The church’s friars remind visitors that the “cross of ashes on our foreheads as a sign that during the season of Lent we make sincere efforts to cleanse our lives of sin and discipline ourselves through prayer, fasting and good works.”

A brochure titled “Lent and Holy Week 2007” distributed by the Church notes that “there is no one right way to keep Lent.” It provides informaton about the schedule for the sacrament of reconciliation, Holy Week services, as well as special Lent events at the midtown Manhattan church.