Ash Wednesday

Church Leaders to Hit the Streets for Ash Wednesday ‘to Meet People' Where They Are

Ash Wednesday has looked a little different for the past two years, but as coronavirus cases have precipitously dropped — and masks have come off — ministers bearing palm ash plan to go directly to the people.

Pastor Hannah Kardon from Urban Village Church said last year, her Methodist congregation mailed ash to people’s home with a prayer and also set up in two locations in the city to distribute it.

This year the church’s members will be at 12 locations across the city in addition to returning to in-person Ash Wednesday services.

But they will continue virtual events and have mailed ash to those who requested it.

“It feels good to be doing things in more ways than we have,” said Kardon. “In the pandemic people really need a space to grieve and talk about death, and this is a good time for people to recognize death and everything is temporary.”

Urban Village Church will be at Metra stations, Chicago Transit Authority “L” stops, Daley Plaza, Loyola University and outside a busy commercial corridor in Hyde Park. For a complete list of times and locations, visit the church’s Facebook page.

“I always found it to be really important to meet people where they’re at,” Kardon said. “Lots of people won’t know it is Ash Wednesday and they will see us and be reminded, or a lot won’t feel comfortable in a church setting so being out there helps us reach these folks.”

Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the 2022 Lenten season, which is a 40-day period dedicated to reflection, prayer and fasting before Easter. The ashes of burned palms are placed in the shape of a cross on the foreheads of believers — a symbol of repentance.

A coalition of churches will also observe Ash Wednesday by launching a “40 Days of Peace” campaign in Pilsen. The coalition, known as the Pilsen Faith Table Initiative, is calling on all churches, businesses and residents to be “peacemakers” in the neighborhood.

“This is an opportunity to pray for peace, not only for the people in our own communities but around the world,” said Mike Enright, pastor of St. Paul Catholic Church. “We are all children of a loving God, a God who weeps also for those who commit violence upon others. We, as His children, are called to bring peace through our words and our actions.”

Ministers and priests of seven Pilsen churches will offer prayer and ashes at the 18th Street Pink Line station, 1710 W. 18th St., from 7 to 9 a.m. and again from 5 to 7 p.m. They will also be at the Pink Line’s Damen station, 2010 S. Damen Ave., at the same times.

The Chicago Airports Catholic Chaplaincy, located in O’Hare International Airport and Midway International Airport, will offer ashes at Masses and liturgical services throughout the day — something it has done since the 1980s.

Parishes will also be at several CTA stations as well.

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