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Sacred Heart prepares for Ash Wednesday

Tammy Norcross explained the meaning behind various Lenten traditions within the Catholic Church, beginning with Ash Wednesday
Tammy Norcross explained the meaning behind various Lenten traditions within the Catholic Church, beginning with Ash Wednesday

This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, and Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Newton will be holding a special service at 12:05 and 7 p.m.

“It starts the beginning of Lent, preparation before Easter,” Pastoral Minister Tammy Norcross said. “For Catholics, it’s a day of fasting and abstinence – that means that we don’t eat in-between meals, and we eat smaller meals than we would on other days. We don’t eat meat on Ash Wednesday.”

To help their congregation, the church will be having fish dinners on Friday.

“We have ‘Fish Friday’ every Friday at 5 o’clock,”  Norcross said. “The Knights of Columbus prepare and serve that. Lent is a time of reflection on ourselves. In the church, we keep it very simple. Our music is very simple during Lent, and all of that is to prepare for the big celebration of Easter.”

To better help understand how Lent works, Norcross broke it down into three sections

“We talk about three disciplines of Lent: increased prayer, fasting – that’s the giving up. Whether it’s candy, Facebook or whatever – and also giving to the poor,” Norcross said. “One of the projects that the Catholic church has is CRS Rice Bowl.”

“The project helps families learn about poverty around the world.” Norcross explained. “Families may choose to eat simple, and the money saved can be put in the rice bowl, and then that is collected to support people around the world.”

The “rice bowls” are not typical rice bowls, they are paper bowls that are used as banks.

The church does experience an increase in attendance during the mass, which they are happy to have.

“Everybody who comes to mass will receive ashes on their forehead, and the ashes remind us of our sinfulness; and our desire to become better Christians,” Norcross said.

During Lent, the church also offers a number of unique activities. which include soup suppers. They will start Sunday, Feb. 17, following Adoration and Solemn Vespers which are also are offered during Lent at 6 p.m. each Sunday.

“Different groups in the parish take turns preparing the meals — again it’s just to have a simple meal and spend time in prayer together,” Norcross said about the soup suppers.

The church will also be hosting adult small group sessions. 

This Ash Wednesday will mark the last for Pope Benedict XVI. He announced that he will be resigning at the end month on Monday,

“Because of his resignation — we will be praying for him, and the cardinals,” Norcross said.

There have been rumors that the next pope will be from Africa or South America, and Norcross understands the reasoning behind those rumors.

“There are more South American Catholics , and African Catholics than European Catholics; and that is where that is kind of coming from ,” Norcross said.

Although the pope retiring is big news, Norcross can understand why he would step down.

One of the church members told Norcross that they did not want to work in when they are 85 she said with a laugh.

Sacred Heart Catholic Church is located at 1115 South Eighth Ave. E. For more information please call the parish office at 641-792-2050.

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