On Ash Wednesday, churches take steps to spread faith, not COVID

Updated: Feb. 17, 2021 at 11:22 AM EST
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Ash Wednesday is a Christian tradition that dates back centuries. But even something as powerful as tradition needs to bend to fit COVID-19 restrictions.

You are dust and to dust you shall return. The sayings in church on Ash Wednesday are always familiar, but the application this year is a little different.

“We usually do it with our thumbs, but this year because of COVID we have to adapt,” said Deacon Kevin Mastellon, St. Patrick’s Church.

To avoid physical contact, St. Patrick’s Church in Watertown opted to mark the cross using a Q-tip.

Around the world, other churches are actually sprinkling ashes over the head, which takes them back to the traditional way of doing things.>

“That is the tradition. That is what’s done in Rome and it’s what’s done in many places in Europe,” said Mastellon.

But no matter how the ashes are spread, church goers say the meaning is the same.

“I think it’s times like these that remind us that yes, there’s some things worse going on, but no matter what, if we hold on to our faith and keep loving God, he’ll get us through,” said Evan Lashbrooks, who attended mass.

Even with pews marked off and masks muffling hymns, faith remains stronger than adversity.

“I don’t think it changes in people’s minds what Ash Wednesday is all about. Ash Wednesday is Ash Wednesday and it doesn’t matter how we apply ashes,” said Mastellon.

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