St. Bede Catholic School students watched palm leaves burn during a ceremony Tuesday in preparation for the start of the season of Lent.
About 200 students from kindergarten to eighth grade at the Ingleside school stood in the cold as the Rev. Rodolfo Ramirez conducted the ceremony that creates ashes for Ash Wednesday.
"It's fantastic that children get to experience this," Deacon Larry Spohr said as he stirred the leaves while they burned. "Lent is a period of surrendering themselves."
The ashes produced by the ceremony will be used to mark parishioners on their foreheads in the sign of a cross Wednesday at St. Bede Catholic Church.
"It was very cold but very interesting and religious. It's a very good tradition," said eighth-grader Tristan Linderholm of Lake Villa.
Ashes will be distributed at St. Bede during the 6:30 a.m., 9 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Masses, and at the 4:30 p.m. Ash Wednesday Liturgy of the Word Service.