It was hard for students at St. Laurence Catholic School to keep silent Tuesday morning as smoke from burning palm leaves swirled around them in the parking lot of the Elgin school.
As the Rev. Andrew Mulcahey read from the Bible and prayed with them over the burning palms, students couldn't help but react to the smoke that had them simultaneously giggling and coughing. The solemn nature of the brief ceremony wasn't lost on them, however, as they stood and watched the palms slowly become the ashes that will be used in Ash Wednesday services. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning to the season of Lent for Christians, leading up to Easter Sunday.
Mulcahey encouraged students to think of a bad habit or a sin they might have, and mentally burn it along with the palm leaves.
"I thought it might be a good idea that we all just think of something that we want to give up to the Lord," Mulcahey said. " ... Something that you're going to give Him during these 40 days of Lent. ... A proposal, a resolution in order to become better."