(WTNH) — Wednesday starts the season of Lent for Christians. But the kickoff, Ash Wednesday, is going to be vastly different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Connecticut is 38% Catholic so the changes coming from the Vatican impact hundreds of thousands of people across the state. For those taking part in Ash Wednesday, it will be a day to remember.
“Obviously it’s not been the most ideal situation in terms of mass and things,” said Father Glen Dmytrysyn of Saint Gregory the Great in Bristol.
It has been a tough year at churches across the state, including at Saint Gregory’s.
Pews are roped off for COVID safety and red Xs mark the spots for social distancing.
“The church has become very creative during this COVID thing, creative tools, social media, Zoom and these other things.”
Father Glen is getting ready for a different Ash Wednesday in a very different year. Because of the pandemic, priests will not anoint parishioners’ foreheads with ashes.
“The Vatican issued a statement requesting ashes still be given but given actually in a way they are given in Rome every year; the ashes will be on the top of the head they will be sprinkled on top of the head.”
Father Glen expects a smaller turnout than in years past, too. He has been counseling people who have fought COVID and their families during these uncertain times.
“The three marks of lent of increased prayer, fasting and giving gives hope to us in this time…Lent this year is going to be one of the most hopeful Lents we have had.”
Father Glen told News 8, the Archbishop of Hartford Leonard Blair has decreed a dispensation for those who do not want to go to services for COVID-related reasons.
The Archdiocese of Hartford serves 133 cities and towns from Hartford to Waterbury to New Haven and the Litchfield Hills.