CINCINNATI — Across the Tri-State, churches observed Ash Wednesday with in-person services.
For many, it's the first time congregations have gathered in-person to receive ashes. The holy day marks the first day of Lent, which lasts about 40 days excluding Sundays. Christians usually take Ash Wednesday to reflect and repent.
“I feel like COVID has really separated a lot of us,” said Kelly Kanellis. “Being able to come backhand worship and be a church is really uplifting for me.”
Kanellis visited a morning mass at Cathedral Basilica of St. Peter in Chains Wednesday to receive her ashes in person.
“For me, it's about prayer,” she said. “It's about being connected with the lord and just having a great experience with him.”
Kelly Sears also received her ashes Wednesday at Cathedral Basilica.
“COVID was very hard because I like to be out and about around people,” Sears said. “It was very difficult for a lot of people, not just me.”
In 2021, Bishops and parishioners wore masks during Ash Wednesday services. Ashes were sprinkled on a person's head instead of the traditional smearing on the forehead.
“We’ve had some ups and downs through these last couple of years,” said Father Jan Schmidt of Cathedral Basilica.
Every Ash Wednesday, a special donation is collected through the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The money goes toward rebuilding churches in central and Eastern Europe. However, this year the money will go to helping refugees of Ukraine.
“They are bombing cultural sites,” Schmidt said. “Cultural sites are the churches in very real ways. The money eventually perhaps will go to help rebuild those but right now the acute immediate need is for help with refugees, food, clothing, etcetera.”
Schmidt said he cannot wrap his mind around the cause of this war.
“Lent is very much about a season of taking a look at our sinfulness and trying to get beyond that," Schmidt said. "Trying to clean up our act and be the kind of people that God wants us to be. Mr. Putin at the moment is far from that."
For more information on how to donate, visit the Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe Resources website.