Pope Francis appeals “to everyone, believers and non-believers alike” for prayers of peace and fasting on Ash Wednesday, March 2

March 1, 2022

Ash Wednesday, March 2 this year, takes on an even greater somber tone, especially in consideration of Pope Francis’ request to use the day to fast and pray for peace in Ukraine and the world.

Pope Francis made a heartfelt appeal for peace in Ukraine at his public audience in the Vatican on Feb. 23 as the situation continued to deteriorate into war between Russia and Ukraine. He appealed to the consciences of “those with political responsibility” and “all the parties involved” to “refrain from any action that would cause even more suffering to the people.”

He also appealed “to everyone, believers and nonbelievers alike” to make March 2—Ash Wednesday - “a day of prayer and fasting for peace.”

Locally, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo agreed, saying, “Accordingly, I ask all the clergy and lay faithful of this local Church to join me in offering our Ash Wednesday penance for peace in Ukraine, and throughout the world.

“During the Lenten season we take up the cross of penance to unite ourselves to the sufferings of the Lord Jesus, and to share in the burdens of others.  May our sacrifices on Ash Wednesday and throughout the season of Lent help us to grow in holiness and in mercy towards those who suffer," said Cardinal DiNardo.

Among the local churches celebrating the Christian holy day, the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in downtown Houston, 1111 St. Joseph Parkway, is set for 7 a.m. English Mass; 11 a.m. Liturgy of the Word; 12:10 p.m. English Mass with Daniel Cardinal DiNardo; 5:30 bilingual Mass with Bishop Italo Dell’Oro and 7 p.m. Vietnamese Mass.

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent with 40 days of observance before Easter that includes prayer, fasting and almsgiving. During the church services, ashes are placed on the foreheads of participants to the words of "Repent and believe in the Gospel" or "Remember that you are dust and to dust, you shall return."

The ashes are prepared by burning palm leaves from the previous year’s Palm Sunday celebrations. For some who observe, it may be the first time since the pandemic that they are returning to in-person services.

Other local Catholic churches observing Ash Wednesday include St. Vincent de Paul, 6800 Buffalo Speedway, for Masses at 6:45 a.m., 12:10 and 6 p.m. After the 12:10 p.m. and 6 p.m. Masses, a free potato soup meal will be available for those fasting.

Liturgy of the Word at St. Vincent de Paul is set for 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 2 p.m., 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. with ashes distributed afterward.

St. Juan Diego Catholic Church. 3301 Pasadena Boulevard, will be celebrating up to eight Masses on Ash Wednesday.

“Father (Rodolfo) Sanchez said this could be the first time that many parishioners and others may be coming back to church so he wants them to celebrate a full Mass,” said office staff.

Bilingual Masses at St. Juan Diego are set for 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.; noon and 5 p.m. in English; and the remainder of Masses in Spanish at 8 a.m., 4 p.m., 6 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Service to others is also an important part of Lent. Young adults in their 20s and 30s are invited to take part in a day of service March 26 during the Lenten season on the theme “Come to Know Love” organized by the Office of Young Adult and Campus Ministry.

The Young Adults Day of Service 2022 is set for March 26 at St. Thomas More Church (10330 Hillcroft St.) from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm.

Angie Pometto, director for the Office of Young Adult & Campus Ministry, said, “For the first time, we will have all young adults who attend the English or Spanish program to do service together in one place.”

The day starts at 8:30 a.m. registration, 9 a.m. opening Mass along with a welcome and introduction afterward, she said. Then the service project will begin at 10:30 a.m. with participants packaging food for the global Rise Against Hunger experience.

“When we’ve done Young Adult Days of Service in the past, we all came together for a Mass to start the day, and then the whole group would split up and go to 20 different locations in the surrounding area to serve. This year, I wanted to host a service event where we could all stay together in one place and serve as one young adult community,” Pometto said.

“This will be first time we will have young adults from the English and Hispanic young adult ministries working together on one project, and I believe there will be a real beauty in that unity,” she said.

Pometto said the office chose to work with Rise Against Hunger because it helps worldwide and knows how to provide a service event that will effectively incorporate numerous volunteers.

“We’re anticipating around 150 total people to attend Young Adult Day of Service, and I believe Rise Against Hunger will help make sure that all 150 people feel like they are contributing to the project. With everyone working together, we’ll be packaging meals to feed more than 75,000 people around the world,” she said.

The office also thanks the Scanlan Foundation which provided a grant with the purpose of involving young adults in mission and service. After the service project, the whole group will join for lunch and close the day out with a reflection speaker (available in English or Spanish) and time for small group discussions.

“I hope that this new format will provide some extra time for connection, community, and prayer. And I’m very excited to have all young adults, both English- and Spanish-speakers, working together on one project,” Pometto said.

Cost for the day is $35 for those who register by March 12. Price includes lunch and a t-shirt Register online at https://www.archgh.org/yaday.  (size not guaranteed after early bird deadline). Register online at https://www.archgh.org/yaday.  For more information contact the Office of Young Adult & Campus Ministry at yacm@archgh.org or 713-741-8778.