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A Philadelphia Church Carries Its Sacramental Ashes To Center City Commuters

By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent on the Christian calendar, and many of the faithful get ashes on their forehead as a sign of repentance for sins.

"Remember that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return..."
One local Episcopal church knows many people are too busy to go to church to get ashes, so they came up with an unusual way to help.

Early morning commuters at Septa's Market East station were surprised -- and often delighted -- to see two priests, each with a bowl of ashes, standing on either side of a sign reading "Ashes To Go."

"I didn't know if you were protesting, or what," one young woman said with a nervous laugh as she approached.  "And I was wondering, how am I going to get my ashes today?"

This is a first-time effort for the Revs. Ledlie Laughlin (right) and Clair Nevin-Field (left, with back to camera), of St. Peter's Church, at 3rd and Pine Streets.  They had no idea how commuters would react, so they were surprised with how many takers they got.

"Oh, yes -- hundreds.  Really, it's been amazing. I mean, who knew?" Nevin-Field told KYW Newsradio.

She says clearly they are on to something.

"I think it's really good for the church to get outside the walls and go to where the people are," she added.

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