Area churches taking safety precautions for Ash Wednesday services

Area churches taking safety precautions for Ash Wednesday services
The Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist in downtown Savannah will hold three Ash Wednesday Masses and will limit each mass to 300 people per service. (Source: WTOC)

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - February 17 is Ash Wednesday, which marks the first day of Lent.

For many Christians, it’s a holy day of prayer. Typically, many would attend special Ash Wednesday services, but the pandemic is causing churches to alter their plans.

For many people, Ash Wednesday means going to church to receive ashes on their forehead. But many may be wondering how churches plan to do this safely.

WTOC spoke with Bishop Stephen Parkes from the Catholic Diocese of Savannah. He says the Diocese is encouraging pastors to distribute ashes in three different ways.

The bishop says pastors can use their fingers like they’ve done before but must sanitize their hands after touching each forehead. They may also substitute their finger for a new cotton ball or Q-tip. Or, they may just sprinkle the ashes on top of the head. which the bishop says is the ancient way of distributing ashes.

If you are not comfortable with receiving ashes this year, the Bishop says you can still attend mass and elect not to receive the ashes.

The first Ash Wednesday Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist is set to begin at 7 a.m. They will also have other masses at 12 p.m. and 6 p.m. The Cathedral says it will be limiting each mass to 300 people per service.

Some churches like Trinity United Methodist Church say they will not be holding any services Wednesday. So, you may want to contact your church to find out about their plans.

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