Ash Wednesday which falls on February 10, will have both the religious and lay people of two churches in the North East of England, St Mary’s Catholic Church and Sunderland Minster, working together to offer Ashes; visiting bus stops, street corners, coffee shops to mark the foreheads of interested passers-by with ashes and encourage them to repent and seek God’s forgiveness.
In the Christian tradition, Ash Wednesday, a day of fasting, is the first day of Lent in Western Christianity. It occurs 46 days (40 fasting days, if the 6 Sundays, which are not days of fast, are excluded). It’s a time for reflection and repentance in preparation for the celebration of Easter.
The movement will take place around Sunderland city center starting with a 10am service in the Minster and ending with celebration of the Holy Mass at 12.05pm in St Mary’s Church.
Fr. Marc Lyden-Smith, the Parish priest of St Mary’s, said: “This will be a tremendous witness in our city, with Catholics and Anglicans working together to start the season of Lent, and it will hopefully remind those who have perhaps fallen away from the Church, or never been before, that the Christian faith is alive and active in Sunderland.”
“I hope it will remind everyone that we have a loving and Merciful God, who welcomes all no matter what,” he added.
The bishops to participate are Bishop Seamus Cunningham of Hexham and Newcastle and the Anglican Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev Paul Butler.