Members of the Saint Leo University community came together to observe Ash Wednesday on February 14, receiving the sign of the cross on their foreheads and hearing the words, “Repent and believe in the gospel” to begin the Lenten season. 

Lent is a time of self-reflection that lasts for 40 days, leading up to Easter and the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection. While many people think that Lent is about “giving up something” such as sweets, snacks, or swearing, in the Catholic and other Christian faiths, the season focuses on prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.  Those who observe often choose to fast in some way in order to make a sacrifice while many decide to do something to help others or complete acts of charity, aiding those in their communities.


At Saint Leo, University Ministry team members and students distributed ashes outside of the Student Activities Building, beginning at 9:30 a.m., while ashes again were distributed and Mass was celebrated at noon and 5 p.m. at the Saint Leo Abbey Church with the Benedictine monks of the abbey. 

Cassandra McLellan, a junior psychology major, is in the process of converting to Catholicism, and was happy to take part in receiving ashes. “I’m learning all about the faith, and learning new things,” she said. 


When Deja Lundy attended a nondenominational Christian church in her home of the Bahamas, Ash Wednesday was not a part of her faith. She later attended an Anglican school and participated in the observance. The sophomore biomedical and health sciences major made sure to receive ashes at her university home on Wednesday.

For Lorenzo Rogliano, receiving ashes had “always been a part of my life.” Rogliano, a freshman accounting major, added, “I’ve gone to Catholic school all my life; my family is Catholic. When I was picking a college, I looked for one that had a church on campus and an active university ministry.”


As for what he is doing this Lent, “I’m giving up snacks,” Rogliano said, laughing and patting his stomach. “And I’m going to try doing some more cardio.”

University Ministry student-leader Michael Bogush distributed ashes to students, faculty, and staff on Wednesday, and said he is going to try to spend more time with God during this Lenten season. His goal is to spend a half hour or an hour each morning praying, focusing on God. 

“I feel like the world is way too comfortable,” Bogush said. “We need to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. Give something up that can be hard for you or do something such as spending an hour in prayer, read the Bible. Make a sacrifice.” 


Sophomore Cesar Maldonado echoed that sentiment. “I want to live part of what Jesus did in his life,” he said. “I will make a sacrifice and offer penance.” 

Lent Activities
The public is invited to attend a Lenten Penance Service (confessions) at 7 p.m., Thursday, March 7, at the Saint Leo Abbey Church, 33601 County Road 52, St. Leo, FL 33574. The Benedictine Monks of Saint Leo Abbey also will hold a Lenten Mission featuring meditations each evening at 7 p.m., March 18 – 20, also in the Abbey Church. 

University Ministry will hold Eucharistic exposition and benediction at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, February 29 in the Greenfelder-Denlinger Boardrooms in the Student Community Center on campus (33701 County Road 52, St. Leo, FL 33574). This practice and devotion emphasizes the tenet of the Catholic Church that the Lord is present in the body and blood of the Eucharist.