The Government of Ontario has announced that the lockdowns in Durham Region, Simcoe County and Orangeville will end on Tuesday, February 16, 2021, as those areas return to Red Zone COVID-19 restrictions. This means that in-person worship will resume there with up to 30 per cent capacity starting on Tuesday.
This will allow those living in Durham Region, Simcoe County and Orangeville to attend Ash Wednesday at their local parish. Your parish is currently busy preparing for Ash Wednesday, so please check with them for details in the coming days.
Parishes in lockdown areas will offer special Ash Wednesday services. These services will be shorter than usual so as many parishioners as possible can receive ashes, while respecting the 10 person capacity limit. Many parishes in these lockdown areas will distribute ashes through Saturday, February 20 to ensure everyone who wants to receive the ashes will have an opportunity to do so.
Peel Region, the City of Toronto and York Region will remain in lockdown until at least Monday, February 22, when the government says it intends to remove more areas from the Grey Zone restrictions.
As parts of the Archdiocese of Toronto begin to re-open, we remind the faithful that the province has asked people not to travel in and out of lockdown areas, so as to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Receiving Ashes During a Pandemic
The distribution of the ashes will be different this year.
Under the direction of the Vatican, when it is time to distribute the ashes, the priest will say to all the parishioners from the altar “Remember that you are dust and to dust you will return” or “Repent and believe in the Gospel.” The priest will then put on a mask, sanitize his hands and sprinkle ashes over the heads of the faithful while remaining silent.
This procedure will greatly reduce the possibility of spreading COVID-19.