Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent for Catholics and Christians. It's a day that's normally filled with gatherings, but that will not be the case this year. The pandemic is forcing places of worship to change how they observe this day. Father Joe Salerno of Our Lady of Lourdes in Utica said the day as a whole will look and feel different than in past years.
"The whole ambiance is different and I think in our absence of each other, it's been a full year where I haven't seen many very active families in our parish but we keep in touch as best we can," said Salerino.
Some churches will be welcoming in partitioners inside, but they need to abide by certain capacity restrictions. Father Joe said inside services will be brief. The Syracuse Diocese has also asked all of its churches to distribute ashes differently. Instead of ashes being spread on the forehead, members of the church will sprinkle ashes on the top of the person's head.
In Verona, the St. Peter's Lutheren Church will distribute ashes in a drive-thru format. But Pastor Katie Yahns said it's nothing the church is already used to.
"We've been doing it for about 7 or 8 years now. And we've always just stuck to the morning hours thinking people on their morning commute will stop by," said Yahns. Yahns asks that everyone driving into service to wear a mask. Members of her church will be using cue tips to spread the ashes.
For more detailed information on how your church will be doing Ash Wednesday, visit your local church's website, Facebook page, or contact them by phone.