Office of the Bishop

Dear Diocesan Family,

As you are likely aware, St. Valentine’s Day falls on Ash Wednesday this year. This is the first time these two occasions have overlapped since 1945. As a result, some people have inquired as to whether a dispensation from the Ash Wednesday fast and abstinence will be granted.

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Lenten season, which is a solemn time of prayer and penance for the Catholic Church. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are the only two days of the year on which fasting and abstinence are required. Due to the importance of Ash Wednesday in the lives of all Catholics – and even many of our non-Catholic brothers and sisters – a dispensation will not be granted.

Those who are accustomed to celebrating St. Valentine’s Day might do so the day before (Mardi Gras) or on another non-penitential day. As we make this sacrifice, we should consider the immense love of Our Lord, who suffered and died for us!

It is especially important that parents help their children to understand the significance of Ash Wednesday and why it supersedes the celebration of St. Valentine’s Day in the life of a Catholic.

Be assured of my prayers for you as we embark upon this Lenten season. May it be a time of grace and mercy for each of you!

Yours sincerely in Christ,

Most Reverend Richard J. Malone

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