Bishop in Botswana Recounts Ash Wednesday Experience amid COVID-19 Restrictions

The Bishop of Botswana’s Gaborone Diocese has recounted his experience of Ash Wednesday amid COVID-19 restrictions in the Southern African nation where public worship remains suspended.

In his Reflection posted on Facebook Wednesday, February 17, Bishop Frank Nubuasah says that the faith of those who turned up “to receive the blessed ashes” touched him.

“At the Cathedral, there was no Mass due to the current public health restrictions in place. People were encouraged to walk in and receive the ashes at their leisure and would find a Priest waiting for them,” Bishop Nubuasah says.  

The Bishop adds, “I was touched by the faith of those who came to receive the blessed ashes as a sign of their readiness to start the journey of repentance and renewal in preparation for the great feast of Easter.”

“We stood outside and allowed people to sanitize, check their temperature, and register and then walked to the Priest,” Bishop Nubuasah continues in his recollection of Ash Wednesday events at Christ the King Cathedral of Botswana’s Gaborone Diocese.


Two Priests were “on hand” to distribute the ashes to the Christians at the Cathedral, the member of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD) says, adding that he went to assist the two Priests at lunch time in anticipation of the people of God who would take advantage of the break to go to church.

The Bishop was “pleasantly surprised” by three incidences, one of them being a government minister who went to receive the ashes during a break in Parliament.

“Another prominent politician came and bowed his head and I sprinkled ashes on it,” Bishop Nubuasah recalls the February 17 incident.

The Ghanaian-born Bishop continues in his reflection obtained by ACI Africa, “A lady who came early to receive the ashes went home and sent her husband, and later when the children returned from school encouraged them to come.”

“They came young and old, Christians from different churches,” the Bishop says, recalling the various groups of people who turned up for Ash Wednesday at the Cathedral.

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He continues, “For the very young, I showed them the ashes and explained to them that I was going to put some on their heads.”

“It was a humbling experience,” the 71-year-old Bishop who has been journaling his daily reflections on Facebook amid COVID-19 says in his 16th reflection of the year 2021.

To ensure as many willing Christians as possible received the ashes to mark the beginning of Lent, Bishop Nubuasah recalls administering the sacramental by the roadside “to the surprise of non-believers who witnessed what was happening.”

“The journey has begun in earnest. We are ready and committed to walking with Jesus until the day of Resurrection. He carries our sins away and heals all pain,” the Local Ordinary of Gaborone remarks in his February 17 reflection also posted on the Facebook page of his Diocese.

The Bishop who has been at the helm of Gaborone Diocese since August 2019 adds in reference to the Lenten Season, “Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving will strengthen us on the way, be our viaticum.”


In a bid to control a spike in COVID-19 infections, the capital city of Botswana, Gaborone has been on strict coronavirus restrictions since September 2020.

Among the restrictions include religious gatherings limited to 50 people at most and not exceed two hours.

The landlocked country is among Southern African nations that have recorded a surge in COVID-19 reported cases caused by the new mutation of the disease identified as the 501.V2 variant.

The country has recorded at least 25,802 cases of COVID-19, 21,893 recoveries and 226 related deaths.

On February 15, the country’s Deputy Coordinator of COVID-19 Task Force Team, Mosepele Mosepele said that COVID-19 fatality rate in the country has increased to one percent since January from last year’s 0.3 percent.

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The country is expected to start COVID-19 vaccinations before the end of March and finish by end of December 2021, the Health Minister, Edwin Dikoloti said Wednesday, February 17.