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Churches find new ways to distribute ashes for Ash Wednesday

While some priests will sprinkle ashes on parishioners' heads, other churches made them available for pick-up.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — As church communities prepare for Lent, local parishes are finding new ways to distribute ashes for Ash Wednesday in a pandemic. 

Western New York's Catholic priests were instructed by the Diocese of Buffalo to follow the European custom of sprinkling ashes on the crown of churchgoers' heads this year, rather forming them in the shape of a cross on their foreheads. 

Other churches, such as St. Patrick's Episcopal Church in Cheektowaga, made ashes available for pick-up this week, so people can put them on themselves at home while watching virtual services. 

2 On Your Side also checked with the Valley Chapel Free Methodist Church in Warsaw, where they also prepared pick-up packets of ashes. Each one came with an instruction cards for churchgoers to practice the ritual on their own at home. 

"It's got a simple ritual that you can you can go through, to do it yourself in your own mirror," Pastor Ryan Rovito explained. "Take some time to reflect, read some scriptures, pray, place the ashes, and still go about your day with the ashes on your forehead as a way of showing the world that you are in the process of grieving your own mortality. It's kind of dark, but it's meaningful."

Rovito is hopeful that if the Covid-19 cases keep doing down in the area, he will be able to hold in-person church services in time for Easter.