CSUB Newman Catholic Club presents Ash Wednesday

Michael Wafford

Staff Writer

As the dulcet drone of a piano was drowned by the sound of a choir’s hymns, more than 130 people gathered in the Stockdale Room to attend Ash Wednesday service. The event was held on Feb. 13 by the CSUB Newman Catholic Club.

With the audience’s heads bowed and their ears focused on the voice of Monsignor Craig Harrison, the service began.

“It is 40 days of purification. Eliminating from our lives those things which hinder our quest for holiness. It is a time to slow our pace. It is a time to think about the God we have neglected, the prayers we have we have less than said and the people we have hurt. Lent is a time to grow and change for the better.”

The service at CSUB allowed students and staff to begin Lent with the traditional placing of ashes on their foreheads without having to travel off campus.

Christine Frye, membership and marketing coordinator for the Student Recreation Center, said “As far as I know, this is the first time we’ve held an Ash Wednesday service on campus. Students, staff and faculty were able to share something in common.” In previous years Frye attended Ash Wednesday service at St. Phillip the Apostle Church.

While Monsignor Harrision spoke at the service he was not originally planned to lead the service.

“[A few month ago] the bishop of the diocese of Fresno offered to come to our campus for Ash Wednesday,” said Monica Franetovich, vice president of the Newman Catholic Club.

Bishop Armando Xavier Ochoa was scheduled to attend the event but was unable to as he had to deal with business elsewhere on Ash Wednesday according to Michael Varga the president of the Newman Catholic Club.

“When [Bishop Ochoa] had to go away for business Monsignor Craig stepped in,” said Varga.

Ash Wednesday marks the first day of Lent, the 40-day period devoted to fasting, abstinence and penitence for Christians throughout the world. “It is a time to renew our determination and become more like Jesus. Lent is a time to suffer because change involves suffering. It is time to find habits to conquer laziness. It is a time to try and fail and then pick ourselves up,” said Monsignor Craig

While the ashen finger tips of clergy caressed their heads faculty and students in attendance also turned their thoughts toward Lent.

“Our lives are so busy Lent is a time to reflect on our lives,” said Frye with a black coal cross on her forehead.

The theme of slowing down and reflecting on life was a common theme among attendees.

“Often times in college we forget about our faith and spiritual life so it’s easy to neglect them. Keeping a healthy balance in life anda healthy spirit helps accomplish goals and helps when getting through difficult times,” said Franetovich.

The 40-days of reflection although often associated with sacrifice is a time to rejoice for many in attendance.

“Lent is a time to put aside selfishness and sarcastic remarks. It is a time to put to death laziness, indifference pride; anything un-Godly. Lent is a time to be happy because you’re moving closer to God the source of all happiness,” said Monsignor Craig.

Varga was happy with the turnout. “Most people who came to the event were Catholic or interested in the event. From their look they werehappy,” said Varga.

“The turnout was wonderful. The seats were filled and it was standing room only,” said Franetovich.

Mary Godde, secretary of the Newman Catholic Club, said, “We honestly expected about 30 people to come. There are no words to express how we feel.”