Students at St. John Catholic School oohed and ahhed Tuesday in front of a fiery cauldron in the school’s parking lot, as the Rev. John Schmeidler prepared to light palms.
“Is everybody ready?” Schmeidler asked.
“Yeah!” yelled the children.
Ashes from the palms, which were used at last year’s Palm Sunday service, will be used today during Ash Wednesday services. Today is the first day of Lent, which runs through Saturday, April 3 — the day before Easter.
Alexander Miller, 10, a student who’s new to the school, was impressed by the burning of the palms.
“It was pretty exciting,” Alexander said.
This was the second year that Schmeidler invited students to watch the palm burning.
“I used to do this every year by myself and I would go out and burn it, and then someone was just asking, ‘Where do the ashes come from?’ I thought ‘Oh, this would be good for the kids to know,’” he said. “They just enjoy it and they get to see, recognize where the ashes come from.”
Schmeidler planned to sift the ashes, and today will use them to mark the foreheads of parishioners during Ash Wednesday services.
He said the intent of the service is “to remind them of the sign of repentance” and about “finding ways in our own lives that we strayed from God and now we want to come back and be in his presence more.”