Faithful early risers attended services for Ash Wednesday, a Catholic holy day which signifies the beginning of Lent.
More than 100 people came to the 8 a.m. service at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Galloway Township Wednesday.
For some like Jane Akeret, a college student at Atlantic Cape Community College, the day represents a segue into the 40 days of sacrifice. For her, it will be giving up processed foods.
Akeret said she can’t remember the last time she came to church, but it was likely last year on Ash Wednesday, since it is the holy day she observes regularly.
“My family is asleep now, they’ll be here tonight,” she said.
Others, like Anette Shorosky, attend regularly, and wear the cross with pride.
“It just made me boast, you know, here I am- a good Christian,” she said. “It has been instilled in me since I was a child. I went to a Catholic school.”
Those who attend services can easily be spotted by crosses on their foreheads, drawn on from ashes.
The ashes are from another holy day, Palm Sunday, from the prior year. The day occurs before Easter and people place palms in their home for the rest of the year. They then take it to the church where it is burned.