Return to dust, return to normalcy


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SAN DIEGO — This Ash Wednesday, when Catholics are reminded that “to dust (they) shall return,” they will also experience a return to normalcy.

The Diocese of San Diego has announced that clergy may once again use the traditional method of imposing ashes with the thumb, “with due consideration for members of the faithful who may have personal concerns.”

It will be left to pastors’ discretion whether they continue last year’s COVID-friendly method of applying ashes to the foreheads of the faithful with individual cotton swabs. Unlike last year, that approach is no longer mandatory.

“We have a renewed sense of hope as we are returning to celebrate liturgies again with our worshiping community, with the rituals that we have grown to embrace as part of our Catholic tradition of faith,” said Noreen McInnes, director of the diocesan Office for Liturgy and Spirituality.

And there’s something about the personal touch of the priest’s thumb tracing the sign of the cross, without the barrier of the swab.

“Jesus encountered the sick with His healing touch,” said McInnes. “The Catholic Church continues His ministry today through the administration of sacraments and sacramentals, imposed in a hands-on manner.”

Diocesan offices, parishes and ministries will host events to mark the Lenten season. The following is a sampling of them:

Lenten series features talks, exhibits
St. Martin of Tours Parish in La Mesa and Sacred Heart Parish in Coronado will be hosting a Lenten series of free presentations and exhibits.

At St. Martin of Tours, the Faith Based Communications apostolate will present three in-person talks in the parish hall: “Sacred Cloths of the Passion,” “Life After Life” and “Eucharistic Miracles.”

“Sacred Cloths of the Passion” will be offered on Wednesday, March 23, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., and again at 9:15 a.m. the next day. “Life After Life,” on near-death experiences, will be presented on Thursday, March 24, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., and again on, Friday, March 25, at 9:15 a.m. “Eucharistic Miracles,” highlighting historical instances when the bread and wine at Mass have physically changed into human flesh and blood, will be presented on Saturday, March 26, from 3 to 4:30 p.m., and repeated twice on Sunday, March 27, from 10:15 to 11:30 a.m. and 12:15 to 1:30 p.m.

Also, on Thursday, March 24, a relic of St. Pio of Pietrelcina, also known as “Padre Pio,” will be displayed for veneration in the church, from 10:15 a.m. to 1 p.m.

For more information on the preceding events, email or call (619) 698-8434.

Sacred Heart Parish will host the “Sacred Cloths” exhibit from 1 to 6 p.m., Friday, April 1; there will be a presentation at 7:15 p.m., after Stations of the Cross.

On Saturday, April 2, there will be three “Eucharistic Miracles” presentations: 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 6:15 p.m.; the exhibit will be open between presentations. The following day, the exhibit will be open from 8:30 to 11 a.m., with the presentation at 12:15 p.m.

For more information on Sacred Heart’s events, call (619) 435-3167.

Lenten Reflection to Focus on Redemptive Suffering
Whispering Winds Women’s Auxiliary is hosting a Lenten reflection, led by author Cyndi Peterson.

Peterson’s presentation will focus on the concept of redemptive suffering. It will take place from 7 to 8 p.m., Wednesday, March 9, in Mission San Diego de Alcalá Parish’s St. Francis Chapel. It will be preceded by a social at 6:30 p.m.

There is no cost to attend. All are welcome. RSVP is requested, but not required.

For more information, email Judy Lemm at

Free Retreat Reflects on ‘Spirituality of Creation Care’
“The Spirituality of Creation Care,” a free retreat in English and Spanish, will be offered as a Lenten spiritual exercise on Saturday, March 26, at the diocesan Pastoral Center. It can also be attended virtually.

Sponsored by the Creation Care Ministry of the diocesan Office for Life, Peace and Justice, the three-hour retreat will begin at 8:30 a.m. and will reflect on the moral and spiritual challenges of our stewardship of the gifts of creation, as presented by Pope Francis in his encyclical “Laudato Si’ (On Care for Our Common Home).” It will be based on Chapters II and VI of the encyclical.

Three short presentations will be offered in-person, virtually and simultaneously in English and Spanish. Robert Gilleskie and Patricia Grace will give presentations in English; Father Emmet Farrell, director of Creation Care Ministry, will deliver the Spanish presentation.

Register at

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