KAPAA — Rev. Ryan Newman of the All Saints’ Episcopal Church said a passing pedestrian wanted to know about the ash on Wednesday morning.
“He is not a Christian, but shares the same belief that ‘you are dust and to dust you will return,’” Newman said. “He stopped by, and after discovering we had the same common thread, I gave him an ash circle on his palm.”
Newman said the ash in Ash Wednesday is symbolic of mortality and how humans are not perfect. The ashes are made from burned palms from the previous Palm Sunday services.
Ash Wednesday is the first of 40 days of Lent. It is named for the custom of placing blessed ashes on the foreheads of worshipers at Ash Wednesday services.
As an extension of this service, Newman started offering his Ashes to Go program, where passing motorists could stop by and receive their ash along with Newman’s blessings.
“I’m surprised at how many people took advantage of this,” Newman said. “When I first started it, I told myself I would be happy if five people stopped. Instead, we had more than 80 people and now we have increased from two hours to six hours.”
Celina Haigh, principal of St. Catherine’s School, said the students joined the church in its Ash Wednesday service.
“This is an obligation service,” Haigh said. “We always join the church congregation in service, but today, there are more people.”
As part of the service, the more than 200 students brought food for the St. Catherine pantry program.
“Lent is a time when God interrupts lives, and we welcome this,” Newman said. “It is in preparation for Easter, and people traditionally give up something (fasting) for this time of re-centering and re-orienting on one’s faith.”
People might give up chocolate or sweets for the period, or in today’s world, give up social media for Lent and using the time to do something new like reading the Bible, Newman said. People traditionally go out and do service projects during this time.
“Historically, in church, when there were notoriously bad people, this was a period of fasting to get them back on track,” Newman said.
Ahead of Ash Wednesday, Newman said the All Saints’ church hosted a pancake dinner on Tuesday with “a lot of people in the house.”
“We had five different kinds of bacon (and pancakes),” Kimo Kimokeo, visiting from California, said. “It was ono-licious.”