Clergy in Zambia’s Ndola Diocese to Use "any decent leaves, branches" for Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday

The Bishop of Zambia’s Diocese of Ndola has directed members of the Clergy in his jurisdiction to use any dried plants to prepare the Ashes that will be used at the beginning of Lent, Wednesday, February 17. 

In a Tuesday, February 9 statement, Bishop Benjamin Phiri says his decision has been informed by the fact that amid COVID-19 last year, Palm Sunday was not celebrated "thus, there was no blessing of palms which are supposed to provide the Ashes on this year's Ash Wednesday." 

"I therefore permit all Parish Priests in the diocese to prepare ashes from any decent leaves of dried plants or branches, which will be blessed for use on Ash Wednesday," Bishop Phiri says.

He also urges Parish Priests to "spread the celebration of Ash Wednesday Masses to accommodate all parishioners."

During the Mass that symbolizes the beginning of the Lenten Season, the Zambian Bishop insists that Clerics distribute the ashes in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship


The Local Ordinary of Ndola goes on to highlight ways for the distribution of the ashes. 

For one, Priests "explain the significance of the ashes to the congregants before starting the distribution of the ashes." 

"Ashes be distributed after the Thanksgiving Hymn," the Bishop says, and finally, ashes be given to the faithful using a spoon and the recipient applies "the ashes to their own foreheads and to their children and minors under their charge." 

In the February 9 message, the Bishop of Ndola also directs that the Way of the Cross, which will take place every Friday during Lent, be attended by a small number of Christians. 

To ensure smooth progress of the Way of the Cross, Bishop Phiri urges the leadership of Parishes in the Zambian Diocese to "prepare attendance schedules going by the number of Small Christian Communities they have for their respective Parishes to ensure the even distribution of the faithful." 

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The 61-year-old Prelate says his directives are informed by the presence of the "second wave of the pandemic of COVID-19 which seems to be on the rise in our Diocese."

The Southern African nation has been experiencing a surge in reported cases of COVID-19 since December 2020.

There are at least 64,610 reported cases of the coronavirus, including 881 fatalities and 58,319 recoveries in Zambia.

In his February 9 message, Bishop Phiri urges members of the Clergy, Religious men and women and the Lay faithful to adhere to COVID-19 health precautions. 

"Let us remain a faith community that takes responsibility for each other's well-being," the Zambian Bishop says and urges the people of God under his pastoral care to be united in prayer.


Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.