U Catholics observe first day of Lent

Cati Vanden Breul

To commemorate Ash Wednesday, campus minister Greg Weinand led a group of approximately 50 Catholic students and faculty members in reciting the Lord’s Prayer on Wednesday morning at the Coffman Union Theater.

At the end of the service, each audience member received an ash cross on his or her forehead to symbolize the occasion.

“It’s one of the few times Catholics tend to demonstrate their faith,” Weinand said. “We like the sense of a visible sign that shows we are committed to our faith.”

Wednesday marked the beginning of Lent, a 40-day period before Easter during which many Catholics give something up to show their devotion to God.

First-year finance student Matthew Larson said Ash Wednesday is not a joyous holiday.

“It’s more of a solemn time,” Larson said.

Lent represents the suffering before Jesus’ death and resurrection, said first-year business student Kayla LeClaire.

LeClaire said she plans to give up french fries for Lent.

“It’s a family thing,” she said.

Larson, who said he is going to give up chocolate, said fasting during Lent can be tough.

But LeClaire said that when people give up things they like, they are more likely to remember why they observe Lent.

“You really think about it, and you are like, ‘Oh yeah, it’s Lent,’ ” she said.

The Catholic College Student Group sponsored the service in collaboration with St. Lawrence Catholic Church and Newman Center, which serves approximately 1,200 students a weekend, Weinand said.

He said he wished a service could be held on campus every week.

“We recognize the time constraints that students have,” Weinand said.

Yet, he said, students at the University are enthusiastic, and faith flourishes on campus.

“I don’t find students here that feel forced to come to church. They are very resolute,” Weinand said.

Ash Wednesday is a sign of hope in a time when it seems there isn’t much to hope for, he said.

“We really need to examine our lives and see how we can become closer to God,” Weinand said.

St. Lawrence Catholic Church and Newman Center also held an evening Ash Wednesday service at Coffman Union and an afternoon service at the St. Paul Student Center.