Andrew Dys

Christians from all parts of the world observe Ash Wednesday in York County

An Ash Wednesday service held at Rock Hill’s St. Anne Catholic Church included all the students from St. Anne Catholic School.
An Ash Wednesday service held at Rock Hill’s St. Anne Catholic Church included all the students from St. Anne Catholic School.

York County Christians stopped for a minute to observe Ash Wednesday. The world did not stop – but the people stopped. That’s what is important, religious leaders told them.

Ash Wednesday is observed by Catholics and many Protestant denominations. It ushers in 40 days of reflection, service, and sacrifice.

Wednesday morning services at Rock Hill’s St. Anne Catholic Church included all the students from St. Anne Catholic School. Father Fabio Refosco urged all in attendance to forgive others and to ask to be forgiven.

“For many of our lost, this starts a journey,” he said. “This is a time for reflection on our sins and our failures, and for all of us to try to become a better person.”

Lent is far more than the outward cultural practice of giving up something such as desserts or candy, Refosco said. It is a time to reach out to others, to spend less time on oneself. He even urged people to spend less time on social media, less time texting – and more time giving to others person to person.

“The world will not die without your comments,” Refosco joked about the continuous attention to social media that has enveloped all ages.

Many of the St. Anne faithful spoke about how Lent is the giving season, to help the poor and hungry, the broke and homeless, the beaten down.

Deacon Jim Hyland, a retired Rock Hill police officer who still works as a constable in York County courtrooms, has seen for five decades the best and worst of real life. He read a Bible passage about how we shouldn’t give for favor or to be known, but because it is the right thing to do.

That giving spirit, that time to reach out, is what the Lenten season is all about, worshipers said after the service.

“Christ died for me,” said Ryon Whisonant, 16, of Chester. “This is the time when we do more service.”

Marie Morton of Rock Hill said the weeks of Lent are a time to “sacrifice for others, because Jesus Christ gave us the biggest sacrifice – himself.”

Lent is a time to make more of an effort, she said.

Most Ash Wednesday services include the imposition of ashes, what Father Refosco called an act of penitence before God. Refosco and many others placed ashes on the foreheads of hundreds – kids and the aged, men and women, white and black and brown and yellow.

And at St. Anne – the spiritual home to people who have come to America from all over the world – the political, social and cultural borders that divide people don’t exist. The church has so many Hispanic and Vietnamese members that masses are held in Spanish and Vietnamese.

Ash Wednesday and Lent provide opportunities to show how God and the church unite people, said Angel Juarez, who was born in Mexico.

“It is a day and place of community today.”

Andrew Dys: 803-329-4065

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