‘Ashes to go’ hits the streets of Concord to bring the church to the masses

By GEOFF FORESTER

Monitor staff

Published: 02-23-2023 6:33 PM

Rev. Denis Brunelle of St. Paul’s Church stood among the legislators as they busily walked and talked across Eagle Square during lunch hour, not paying much attention to him holding a small can with his purple vestments over his street clothes. After not getting much reaction, Brunell finally called out “Ashes for free!”

The lunchtime crowd then reacted to the church’s program called “Ashes to Go,” which marks Ash Wednesday, the start of the Christian season of Lent.

Some looked up and politely declined, while others came over and allowed him to apply ashes to their foreheads. Eventually, church parishioners showed up to be anointed with ashes and converse with Brunelle, the interim Priest-in-Charge at the downtown church.

“We do this out here to bear witness to the group of Concord citizens that the church comes to you, and you don’t have to come to the church,” Brunelle explained.

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends approximately six weeks, concluding just before Easter, which is observed on April 9 this year.

“Ash Wednesday is a time for us to begin recollecting and remembering not only that we come from the Earth, but we’ll return to the Earth,” Brunelle said.

“What Lent is about for me, it’s not about giving up things. It’s about choosing to do things as Isaiah the prophet says – to make justice alive in the world today to feed the hungry, to house those who are homeless.”

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