Ashes to Go tradition continues to grow in WNY


WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. (WIVB) – Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the holy season of Lent, and Christians around the globe are heading to church to receive ashes and blessings.

But, for many people, taking time in the middle of the week to attend a traditional church service just isn’t an option.

“They are working two, sometimes three jobs. They have children, they have to get dinner on the table, they have to get homework done tonight. It’s a school night, so the expectation of coming to a service on Ash Wednesday sometimes in not a reality,” said Rev. Robert Harvey, Rector at Calvary Episcopal Church.

That’s why churches in Western New York are increasingly offering Ashes To Go services.

Calvary Episcopal has been offering Ashes To Go for five years now, giving community members of all denominations an opportunity to receive ashes and blessings without even getting out of their cars. They drive up to the church parking lot, a volunteer parishioner or the rector gives them their ashes through their car window, then they drive off and get on with their day.

It takes about a minute on average and everyone is welcome.

Father Harvey said he was grateful to be able to bring the Ash Wednesday tradition to community members where they are.

“This is our annual opportunity to touch something sacred and holy,” Father Harvey said.

Fortunately, this year, the weather seemed to cooperate with the church’s plans. It’s not always so tranquil.

“It never got above 13 degrees last year,” Father Harvey said. “But with 186 people coming through, it was so cold, I think I warmed up about Saturday.”

This Ash Wednesday, Father Harvey was all thawed out and giving ashes to an even larger crowd.

Ashes To Go will continue at Calvary Episcopal Church until 6 p.m. Wednesday. Traditional church services are also being held inside at 7 a.m., noon, and 7 p.m.

Here are some of the other WNY churches where you can get ashes in the Buffalo area:

  • Blessed Sacrament Church – 1035 Delaware Ave., Buffalo
  • Holy Trinity Lutheran Church – 1080 Main St., Buffalo
  • St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 4275 Harris Hill Rd., Clarence

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