By Adam Homel ‘21

Ash Wednesday starts off Lent in the Catholic Church. The ashes people receive symbolizes death and repentance. Christians receive ashes to show repentance because they believe Christ died for us.

This Ash Wednesday, many priests and bishops of the Diocese of Chicago changed the way they gave ashes due to this pandemic.

Peer Minister Joe Hladik ’21 said, “This is a crazy year with everything going on. At first, I didn’t think I was going to be able to receive, let alone give, ashes, but I am glad I was able to. I was happy to give ashes to my classmates and teachers.”

There have been creative ways of distributing ashes throughout this pandemic, whether it’s picking them up at your local church or using a cotton swab to receive them. Our Brother Rice community did just that on Wednesday.

Brother Rice didn’t have an in-school mass this year because of COVID.

This meant the Brother Rice peer ministers went all around school distributing ashes with a cotton swab to students during their theology classes and teachers during their free-time or lunch breaks. The peer ministers did a terrific job and got to everyone before the end of the school day.

Joe McIntyre ’21 said, “I was able to go into school and receive ashes from Mr. Augustyn while being in COVID protocol. I still wish there was a mass, but the prayer service the peer ministers recorded went very well, and I was able to watch it with my family. I think what the peer ministers did was very nice and it made people feel safe while watching it at home.”

Not only did the Brother Rice peer ministers administer ashes, but they worked with BRTV to make a prayer service video for Ash Wednesday.

Some classes at Brother Rice watched this prayer service, but the prayer service wasn’t just for Brother Rice students. The peer ministers made this video for people that don’t want to go to mass because of this pandemic.

Peer minister Kyle Gallagher said, “I am glad to make this prayer service. Not only did the Brother Rice students watch it, but people from our community watched it. I was happy to be able to help make people feel safe while watching a prayer service on Ash Wednesday.”

The Brother Rice peer ministers wanted everyone to feel safe during this pandemic, so they made this video so no one worried about COVID. They tried their hardest to make every student and the people in the community feel like they’re at an Ash Wednesday mass.