Ash Wednesday refocuses faith for some in Auburn

Pope’s resignation comes in ‘time of teaching’
By: Jon Schultz, Journal Staff Writer
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With one of the holiest times of the Catholic faith two days away, Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation, and Father Michael Carroll said many at St. Teresa of Avila Parish in Auburn feel he did it as a teaching moment.

“I think he’s been humble,” Carroll said of the 85-year-old Benedict who made the historic announcement Monday citing his declining health. “A lot of people hold on to power, but what I hear from a lot of parishioners here is that they feel it’s the pope teaching us.

“It’s a time of teaching, and maybe it’s not a coincidence that he is resigning during this Lenten time.”

Ash Wednesday, “a big day for Catholics,” as Carroll said, is today, and St. Teresa of Avila as well as other area Catholic churches and some of other denominations will hold special masses where members of the faith will be marked with ashes on their forehead.

The day marks the start of the 40 days of Lent, a period of prayer, fasting and alms giving, and it’s a time of introspection on how followers of the faith can become closer to their religion. Lent culminates with Easter.

“Ash Wednesday is admitting our faults,” Carroll said. “It’s an invitation to come back, so it’s responding to that … to the ways of our Lord.”

St. Teresa of Avila, 11600 Atwood Road, is holding mass today at 6:30 a.m., 8:30 a.m. and a bilingual mass at 5:30 p.m., with a 6 p.m. soup supper followed by a 7 p.m. service.

St. Joseph Parish, 1162 Lincoln Way in Auburn, has mass at 8:30 a.m., 12:10 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., with the last one in Spanish.

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 124 Orange Street in Auburn, also holds an Ash Wednesday service at noon. Acting priest Dan Williamson explained that the Episcopal Church comes from the same roots as the Catholic Church, so they take part in some of the same traditions.

Williamson said there are many different ways for churches to approach Lent and though some are “very harsh and disciplined” in focusing on what to give up, he has a lighter view.

“I really want to see people focusing on the positive during Lent and looking to see ‘How can I correct my life so that I am closer to God,’ as opposed to, ‘How can I suffer or deny myself.’ Those may be elements in your refocusing, but the end is to draw ourselves closer to God.”

Ginny Huckins, a 71-year-old Auburn resident, said though she’s beyond the age where giving up something for Lent is required, she and her husband still try to avoid going out to dinner unless it’s a special occasion, and they don’t eat meat, other than fish, on Fridays.

“We try to fast a little bit more than we normally do,” Huckins said.

On Tuesday, St. Luke’s had its annual Mardi Gras breakfast, lunch and dinner, serving pancakes, sausage and eggs.

Traditionally, giving up eggs, milk and butter is common during Lent, and this event is a product of that, said Linda Kenney, vestry clerk.

“It’s kind of a celebration to use up all of those ingredients before you start the Lent period,” Kenney said. “Until it comes to Easter, and then on Easter we come back to a big celebration again.”


Jon Schultz can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @Jon_AJNews