Clergy from churches across the suburbs helped commuters mark the beginning of Lent on Wednesday by taking the imposition of ashes outside church walls and onto Metra platforms.
The "Ashes to Go" movement got its start in this area in 2009 and 2010. Last year it was offered in 21 states and this year residents of London and Cape Town, South Africa, are said to be participating for the first time.
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The Rev. Emily Mellott, pastor of Calvary Episcopal Church in Lombard, is credited with giving the program its name and creating a website to keep it organized.
Clergy members were at train stations on Ash Wednesday in many area towns, including Arlington Heights, Palatine, Glen Ellyn, Cary, Libertyville, Lombard, Geneva and Villa Park.
Elsewhere, many other congregations marked Ash Wednesday with more traditional services in church buildings.