Irish priest providing 'takeaway ashes' for Catholics ahead of Ash Wednesday

Irish priest providing 'takeaway ashes' for Catholics ahead of Ash Wednesday

A PRIEST in Donegal is providing 'takeaway ashes' for his parishioners ahead of Ash Wednesday tomorrow.

Fr Brian Brady, of Clonmany in County Donegal found a unique way to allow Catholics in his parish to celebrate Ash Wednesday as he has begun providing packets of takeaway ashes.

Traditionally, on the first day of Lent, Catholics receive ashes in the shape of a cross in their forehead as a reminder of their mortality, often accompanied by the words "we are dust and to dust we shall return".

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the seven-week Lenten sacrifice. (Picture: Getty Images)

It's not unusual in normal times for priests to visit local schools on the day, ensuring young people can receive their ashes without missing their education, but this year the traditions of Ash Wednesday have been put to a halt due to the ongoing pandemic, with schools closed and church services moved online.

Fr Brady spoke to RTÉ's Morning Ireland yesterday where he revealed his church had provided 200 packets of ashes to parishioners so far, and they are searching for more due to the "big demand".

The idea is for practising Catholics to hold a prayer service in their own home before placing the ashes on their foreheads-- and "it seems to have caught on with the parishioners because we have left out the little containers and they all seem to be gone."

The blessed ashes have been placed in a number of churches around Donegal, and each contain a prayer which can be said by the family at the dawn of Lent.

The ashes are available on a first-come first-served basis, and are free to collect from churches including St Mary's Church in Clonmany, St Michael's Church in Urris and The Oratory of the Assumption in Ballyliffin.