Ash Wednesday blessings to go

An Ash Wednesday blessing for commuters in Bridgeport this morning, as ministers went out to the train station to mark the foreheads of Christians on the first day of Lent. (WTNH / Jeff Valin)

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (WTNH) — Some pastors in Connecticut will be out on street corners and at train stations today to give the blessing of Ash Wednesday to those who can’t make it to a church service. News 8’s Jeff Valin has the story of “Ashes to Go”.

Ash Wednesday marks the official start of the Lenten season.

“I’m blessed, I’m blessed,” said Theresa Jones, Bridgeport.

Without missing a beat from her busy day, clergy members from three Bridgeport churches gather to bless the faithful this Ash Wednesday.

“We started this last year, the three of us together, and got such a positive response from the commuters that there was no doubt we would do it again this year,” Father Geoffrey Hahneman, St. John’s Episcopal Church.

While they are slightly re-shaping centuries of tradition to mark the start of Lent, the ashes continue to symbolize mortality, redemption, and sacrifice.  These religious leaders say that “Ashes to Go” is a small sacrifice to bring the church to the people.

“We want to make sure people know God loves them and that God hasn’t forgotten about them, because I think the world can wear you down,” said Rev. Sara Smith, United Congregational Church.

Some might think it is Christianity by convenience, but these folks say it is more like a balance of religion and reality.

When asked if it is tough to fit a church day in her schedule on a weekday, Phyliss Spinelli of Bridgeport replied “…yes.  And we’re constantly running for appointments and everything.”

“I ash more people here than I did at the service I used to have at this time, so I feel like I’ve expanded the ministry of the church rather than reduced it,” said Father Hahneman.

“It’s a little fuel for the day, to get them through the day, and make them think and reflect about their own lives and how their lives can be made closer to God,” said Reverend Walter Barton, Golden Hill United Methodist Church.


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