LAMPa and ecumenical partners marked the start of Lent by offering ashes-to-go in the state Capitol for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

The practice, which began in 2016, was discontinued in 2021 and 2022. It was missed during that time, according to Capitol staff, who told the Rev. Sandy Strauss, advocacy director of the Pa. Council of Churches that people were already looking for  prayers and ashes as she took her place in the East Wing Rotunda.

Although the location was not prompted by heightened partisanship in that time, LAMPa Director Tracey DePasquale said, the rite serves as a reminder of what unites humankind as well as an invitation to extend forgiveness and move beyond division. “I’m always deeply moved by the opportunity to pray with people in this way, to share the mark of the cross and look at one another differently, confessing our common humanity and our need for grace.”

Many expressed gratitude for the opportunity to participate in the tradition that marks the start of the holy season of Lent, even in the midst of a day that perhaps offered no opportunity to be with their own faith community.

“Ashes-to-go at the Capitol is such a beautiful thing,” said the Rev. Matthew Best, LAMPa Policy Council chair.  “The Capitol is a busy place with lots of people doing important things.  And here we are standing in the rotunda offering a reminder of our shared mortality, saying a prayer with people, listening to people, and just standing with them for a few minutes to show how God is present with them.  That’s powerful.”



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