February 22 marked the start of Lent, and busy Christians dashed to get their ashes.

On Ash Wednesday, The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh offered multiple locations and times in public venues and non-traditional settings for the distribution of ashes, which signify the mortality of man and reminds him of his sinfulness.

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Mt. Lebanon provided several opportunities for the faithful. There were two drive-thru, on-location sites at 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. In addition, Ashes-To-Go were provided at the PRT “T” station for an hour for commuters.

“I couldn’t get ashes any earlier because I had to be at the office, so when I finished work I thought I’d stop out here for the convenience,” said Chris Grady.

Grady works downtown and lives at the “back end” of Mt. Washington. “Fifteen minutes away,” he said. “So it wasn’t really an effort,” he said, to get to the 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. distribution site. “For this time, when they were offering, it seemed to be the only ‘ashes-on-the-go’ place.”

Meghan Lang of Brookline agreed. She was curious as to what the Mass schedules were and when she searched the subject online, she discovered the ash distribution sites.

“I didn’t realize they were doing this ashes-to-go thing so I tried it. I think it’s pretty nice. I thought it was going to be a drive-thru and when they said entrance, they meant the actual entrance. I didn’t know they could actually be down here,” she said of the “T” platform.

Both Grady and Lang felt they needed to start the season of almsgiving, fasting and repentance with the ceremony.

“It’s important,” Grady said. “I grew up and was raised in a Catholic family and attended a Catholic school so it was always a part of my belief and tradition.”

Lang has recently returned to her faith. She said this is the first time that she had received ashes in about five years.

“For me, the ashes are more of a respecting toward both God and Jesus and I think taking a bigger step into my faith and asking for the guidance to keep going.”

During Lent, Grady will decide with his wife what the best thing for them to “give up,” but Lang said she has set her main goal for now to continue reading the Bible. She is currently looking for a Bible study group that works around her schedule, which includes taking care of her ailing grandmother.

“I hope to get a better understanding of things by reading the Bible and hopefully get back to where I once was,” she said.

Those aspirations delight the Jim Miorelli. The seminarian from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church distributed the ashes at the “T” station. He also performed the same duties at a church service that morning, then went to St. Clair Hospital and worked in the chapel distributing more ashes.

“Lent is a time for repentance and a time of reflecting on our own mortality and drawing closer to God,” he said. “Hopefully we are thinking about God, we are reflecting and drawing closer to God during these times.”

He added that it is important that people know that God loves them and that God is ministering to them through others. He also reminds people that the religious are there for them.

“It doesn’t matter whether it’s just receiving ashes. It can be little prayers or it can be more serious prayers.”

Almanac Sports Editor

An award-winning journalist, Eleanor Bailey has been employed by Observer Publishing Company since 1982. She is the sports editor at The Almanac and a contributor for the Observer-Reporter.

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