Ash Wednesday unites Christian students

Many UConn students and members of the surrounding community gathered together in the St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel to celebrate Ash Wednesday in Storrs, CT on Wednesday, March 1, 2017. For Catholics, Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, a 40-day period of sacrifice and fasting leading up to Easter Sunday. (Owen Bonaventura/The Daily Campus)

Many Christian students and faculty at the University of Connecticut partook in the religion’s annual Ash Wednesday practice yesterday by going to church to get ash crosses on their foreheads.

Several churches on the Storrs campus offered special services for Ash Wednesday.

St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel, located across from the Chemistry building, held two services yesterday that served about 800 to 1,000 UConn students.

“When I first started working here and they told me we would be getting 1,000 students on Ash Wednesday, I just laughed,” St. Thomas Office Manager Kathy Dochter said. “But it really is true.”

The daily 12:20 p.m. mass is usually standing room only. The special Ash Wednesday 4:00 p.m. mass is nearly as full as well, Dochter said

Second-semester accounting major David Perez said he wasn’t sure how the format of the mass at St. Thomas Aquinas was going to go, but said he was pleased with how easy and convenient getting the ashes was.

“I consider it more of like a responsibility as a Catholic to get the ashes,” Perez said. “I don’t have as much time to practice the faith as I did in high school, but I still try to do what I can.”

Storrs Congregational Church, located on the intersection of Route 195 and North Eagleville Road, offered two masses as well.

“Lent begins with a solemn call to fasting and repentance as we begin our journey to the

Easter mysteries of Christ’s death and resurrection,” the church wrote on its website. “The sign of ashes suggests our human mortality and frailty. What seems like an ending is really an invitation to make each day a new beginning, in which we are washed in God’s mercy and forgiveness.”

Ash Wednesday begins the 40 days of Lent, which, according to the religion, represents Jesus Christ’s sacrifice of time spent in the desert. The ashes usually come from the burned palms from last year’s Palm Sunday, which is the Sunday before Easter. The ashes represent the “we are dust and to dust we shall return” verse from the Bible.

Most people do not realize that Ash Wednesday is not a holy day of obligation, when mass attendance is required.

Saint Mark’s Episcopal Chapel, Hope Lutheran Church and the Three Hierarchs Greek Orthodox Church also offered Ash Wednesday services.


Claire Galvin  is a senior staff writer for The Daily Campus.   She can be reached via email at claire.galvin@uconn.edu.