Remember Ash Wednesday on campus? It was a time to pack the chapel with hundreds of your closest friends and join in prayer as preparation for the Lenten season.
As with all things this year, Ash Wednesday observance at the University of Dayton looked a bit different. The Lenten theme “in the wilderness” reminded students that even in the desert and amid loneliness, God can be found.
Instead of receiving ashes in the sign of the cross on the forehead, students received ashes on the top of their heads. The practice allowed for greater distancing and is reminiscent of the ancient tradition of sprinkling ashes over the heads of penitents.
Students had eight opportunities to receive ashes, including Mass at the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception and Holy Angels Church adjacent to campus, and at the Liturgy of the Word at Holy Angels and the Frericks Center gym. A virtual nondenominational Christian worship service, along with Mass, were live streamed and are available to be viewed on the University of Dayton Campus Ministry YouTube channel.
“Lent can be a time to deepen your relationship with God through prayer and other spiritual practices, to attend Mass/worship more regularly, or to engage in acts of generosity and service that benefit others,” said Crystal Sullivan, executive director of campus ministry. “This is especially important now, as we continue to journey through the ‘wilderness’ of isolation, grief and instability caused by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the impact of racial division and polarization in our world. The story of Jesus in the desert, which is read to begin the season of Lent, reminds us that God can be found in the wilderness, too.”
Campus Ministry will host events during Lent, which runs through Wednesday, March 31. Because of COVID-19 protocols, events are limited to University students and employees. Campus Ministry and the Office for Mission and Rector also will be collecting money to support Marianist programs overseas — health clinics in Togo, West Africa and India; and Marianist schools in India, Kenya and Malawi. Each serves the needs of the poor through education, encouragement and meeting basic needs. Find information on how to support these ministries at ministry.udayton.edu.
Photos by Kathyrn Niekamp ’21 and Meredith Robinson ’23.