What Is ‘Ashes To Go'? Where To Get 'ATG' In New York

Ashes
A woman receives ashes for Ash Wednesday. Reuters

If you're someone without a lot of time to spare, but who wants to observe Lent, you might be in luck. Catholic churches are enabling people to bypass Mass and actually get “drive-through” ashes. Imposing ashes on one’s forehead is a sign of penitence that the early Christians adopted, but within the last few years, it has evolved ... with some churches bringing the ashes directly to the streets.

Though it's a custom for Catholics to sit through mass, in 2010 three Chicago-area churches took ashes to suburban train stations and noticed that people were happy to indulge in a moment of grace and receive the ashes before heading to work. In 2012, that initiative, “Ashes to Go,” caught on nationally, and a year later the idea went international, with churches in the United Kingdom, Canada and South Africa also practicing the easy penitence method.

According to the “Ashes to Go” website, the quick way getting ashes is about “bringing spirit, belief, and belonging out from behind church doors, and into the places where we go every day.” The site adds that though the "to go" way is simple, there is a deeper meaning -- where busy people can have a “contemporary moment of grace.”

For those who are interested in finding "Ashes to Go" in the New York area, check out the list below, courtesy of the official Ashes to Go organization.

Albany, N.Y.

St Andrew’s Episcopal Church

Contact: The Rev. Mary White

Where Ashes to Go will be offered:

7:30 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. on the church steps at 10 North Main Ave.

Brooklyn, N.Y.

Episcopal Community Services

Contact: Juan Carlos Ruiz

Where Ashes to Go will be offered:

26 Federal Plaza

Floral Park, N.Y.

St. Elisabeth’s

Contact: Abby Murphy

Where Ashes to Go will be offered:

Floral Park Train Platform, Inbound Side by the Escalator

Lake Ronkonkoma, N.Y.

St. Mary’s Episcopal Church

Contact: The Rev. Beth O’Callaghan

Where Ashes to Go will be offered:

Long Island Rail Road commuters can receive “Ashes to Go” over the track walkway at the Ronkonkoma Train Station from 6-9 a.m.

Malone, N.Y.

Malone: Centenary United Methodist Church

Contact: The Rev. Billy Bond

Where Ashes to Go will be offered:

Ashes to Go will be offered from 8 a.m to noon in front of the church at 345 West Main St.

New Hartford, N.Y.

St. Stephens Episcopal Church

Contact: Joell Szachara

Where Ashes to Go will be offered:

Corner of Oxford Road, Genessee Street and the school parking lot

Orchard Park, N.Y.

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church

Contact: Sean Leonard

Where Ashes to Go will be offered:

Ashes to Go will be done in the church’s parking lot, at 6595 East Quaker St., from 7-8:15 a.m.

Peekskill, N.Y.

St. Peter’s, Peekskill

Contact: Jan Nunley

Where Ashes to Go will be offered:

Commuters can receive them at the Peekskill MetroNorth commuter rail station from 6-8 a.m.

Williamsville, N.Y.

St. Paul’s, Clarence, N.Y.

Contact: Vicki Zust

Where Ashes to Go will be offered:

At the church at 4275 Harris Hill Road from 7:30-8:30 a.m. and from 5-6:30 p.m.

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