Traditional Ash Wednesday services took place across the Province, and whether in the Province Center itself, at St. Viator Catholic Community in Las Vegas or Saint Viator High School, the emphasis was on reflection and preparation.

Br. Rob Robertson distributes ashes at Saint Viator High School

At Saint Viator High School, the service was a collaborative effort between Viatorians on staff and student members of the Campus Ministry core team. Associate Brian Hansen was the main presider, while Associate Ann Perez read the gospel and Br. Rob Robertson, CSV, led students in a Lenten pledge before blessing the ashes. Associates Cathy Abrahamian and Kurt Paprocki also participated.

The readings and reflections all revolved around this theme: Live Lent: pray, fast, serve.

Too often, we view Lent as a chore rather than its true purpose: a time of reflection on our actions and a time of preparation for the joy of Easter,” Mr. Hansen said in opening the homily.

Molly Boyle, Associate Brian Hansen and Finn McLeod offer Lenten challenges.

Seniors Molly Boyle and Finn McLeod offered challenges to their classmates in the homily:

“I encourage you to find your passions and use them to serve others,” Finn said. “The world is full of opportunities to be virtuous and do the right thing, and the world needs us.”

Molly summed up the challenges this way: ” When walking out of this gymnasium today, I want you to ask yourself: have I used my time well and done all I can to serve others? If not, let’s use this Lenten season as a chance to re-focus on others and on God.” 

Meantime, teenage members of St. Viator Parish in Las Vegas attended an early morning Ash Wednesday service led by Fr. Richard Rinn, CSV, Pastor, and with the help of Br. Peter Lamick, CSV. The teens rose before dawn to arrive at church for ashes, before they departed on buses bound for LA Youth Day in Los Angeles, which opens Thursday.

Fr. Richard Rinn distributes ashes at St. Viator Parish.

Back at the Province Center in Arlington Heights, Fr. Mark Francis, CSV, Provincial, celebrated Ash Wednesday Mass in the intimate surroundings of its chapel. With the sun streaming in through its distinctive stained glass windows, Fr. Mark described Lent as a time of retreat for the whole church, as Catholics reflect on the phrase, “You are dust and to dust you shall return.”

Fr. Mark Francis celebrates Ash Wednesday Mass in the Province Center Chapel.

“We remember our mortality, not to be maudlin or morbid, but simply to value the life that we have, which comes from God and is sustained by God,” he said. “This is our life-given meaning through Jesus Christ — his suffering, death and resurrection — for any contemplation on our death naturally turns us toward the hope we have in Jesus Christ, that our life is changed, not ended at death, because of God’s love for us in Christ.”