Ash Wednesday, the First School-Wide Mass in Two Years

On Wednesday, March 2, 2022, the Jesuit High School Sacramento community celebrated Ash Wednesday in the gym; it marked the first all-school mass for the first time in two years.

Ash Wednesday signals the start of Lent, a season where Catholics focus on fasting, prayer, and almsgiving in preparation for Easter.

Due to the COVID-19 restrictions throughout 2020 and 2021, the sophomore class and even Fr. Perry Petrich, S.J. had never celebrated a mass as a whole school community before. Fr. Petrich explained what makes this celebration special to him.

“I think there was an intention with a penitent spirit of Ash Wednesday and I think there was a celebrational spirit in the hearts of the students watching them joyfully interact with each other throughout the course of the mass,” Fr. Petrich said.

After delightedly seeing the whole student body in brotherhood with each other during the mass, President Fr. John McGarry, S.J. is pleased to see a sense of normalcy return to school as well as the liturgy. He is also excited to see more schoolwide masses in the near future.

“Our goal is to continue to have all school liturgies at least once a month,” Fr. McGarry said.

According to Fr. McGarry, the 40-day season of Lent is a time for our prayer community to come together and make changes to better ourselves.

“We celebrated mass today primarily because it’s the beginning of Lent: Ash Wednesday,” Fr. McGarry said. “It’s an important time in the church, a time of renewal, of repentance, and of transformation. It’s a time for us to come together and pray after a long two years of isolation and separation. It’s preparation for Easter, but it’s also just a great experience to have the community back together again.”

Fr. Petrich further elaborated on the importance of Lent, especially when it comes to the generous giving that characterizes Christian life.

“The Lenten season is a time of increased prayer, increased fasting (going without things), and increased almsgiving (giving to charity),” Fr. Petrich said. “[Lent] is a time in preparation for celebrating the resurrection of Jesus.”

As more and more restrictions continue to be lifted, daily school life has been returning to what it was before the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though the pandemic is not quite over, celebrating all-school masses is just one of the signs that life is slowly returning to normalcy. Hopefully, the healing season of Lent can bring the community closer together as we persevere through the final stages of the pandemic.