Reverend honors Ash Wednesday

Reverend+Anne+Gardner+stands+with+ashes%2C+ready+to+place+them+on+the+heads+of+Christian+students.

Davis Marks/Chronicle

Reverend Anne Gardner stands with ashes, ready to place them on the heads of Christian students.

Davis Marks

Reverend Anne Gardner placed ash on the heads of Christian students observing Ash Wednesday at both the middle and upper school campuses Wednesday. Ash Wednesday, the first day of the Lenten season leading up to Easter, is celebrated by many Christians through placing ashes on their heads.

Gardner said Ash Wednesday is one of the most significant traditions to Christians, so she felt it was important to honor it through the imposition of ashes.

“Ash Wednesday is among the most well-known observances of the Christian tradition,” Gardner said. “Making note of the first day of Lent, in part by the imposition of ashes, is one of the ways this liturgical season is marked, both personally and communally.”

Senior Prefect Jack Coleman ’22 received ashes from Gardner and said he appreciated Gardner and the school showing support to observing students.

“I am so happy that Reverend Gardner was able to provide ashes for all observing Ash Wednesday,” Coleman said. “Of course, [the school is] secular and a lot of people did not understand why I had an ash cross on my forehead, but as a practicing Catholic, I really appreciated being able to express my faith through this age-old tradition. It’s a tremendously important part of my faith, and I think it’s really important that the school show support for those observing.”

Spanish Teacher Harold Pleitez, who previously committed to receiving ashes from his own Church and did not receive them from Gardner, said he appreciated Gardner hosting an opportunity for students and faculty to connect with their faith.

“Reverend Gardner is doing an amazing job working with faculty, staff and students who share a variety of creeds and beliefs but are united by faith – regardless of the specifics,” Pleitez said. “Reverend Gardner, by providing this opportunity, is opening a beautiful channel of community to each person’s faith, [and] though I did not receive ashes from Reverend Gardner this year, I look forward to doing so next year.”

Gardner said she views the new program as a success because in addition to many observing students and faculty receiving ashes, other students asked her about the holiday and its significance.

“I was thrilled to have a steady stream of both students and adults come to receive ashes,” Gardner said. “It was also noteworthy that others approached me simply to ask about the holiday, its meaning and the way in which the ashes were prepared and distributed. For the faithful and curious alike, this program was a success.”