Full circle

Burning palms for Ash Wednesday is a learning moment for students

By John Wolcott

palm burning
Noeliah Trujillo tosses a dried palm cross from last year into the flames during the annual palm burning ceremony at St. Hubert Parish in Langley. The palm ashes will be used during this year’s Ash Wednesday Masses. Photo: Courtesy St. Hubert Parish

Outside St. Hubert Church in Langley, young parishioners gathered around a cross-decorated metal canister, where they burned last year’s palm branches for this year’s Ash Wednesday service.

“The palm burning was a success, the rain held out until after we were finished and each of the children had an opportunity to place a palm in the fire and pray for a special intention,” said Rachel Maraguli, the parish’s religious education director. “It was a very touching ceremony.”

The event has been a tradition at St. Hubert for several years, Maraguli said.

Before the palms were burned, the class prayed together, then talked about how the palms from last year would become ashes for this year, once again completing an annual cycle. Afterward, the ceremony closed with a prayer.

“Since it was windy, and there was quite a bit of smoke from the fire, one woman exclaimed, ‘Holy smoke!’ and we all felt doubly blessed that morning,” Maraguli said of the March 2 gathering.

The students seemed to enjoy the whole ceremony, she said, including her daughter, Isabelle, who also participated last year. She told her mother then that the ceremony helped her “feel a connection between Palm Sunday and Ash Wednesday.”

March 4, 2014