Ash Wednesday -- observed earlier this week -- is the kickoff for the season of Lent, which culminates with Jesus' triumph of Palm Sunday, the sacrifice of crucifixion and his resurrection from death.
As such, it is a time of praying and fasting; a time for people to reflect on their mortality, and for followers to demonstrate their faith, Hersey said.
"The reason we put ashes on the forehead is we should live our faith obviously," Hersey said. "The fact that we're a follower of Christ should be as obvious as the ashes on our forehead."
At the Immaculate Conception and Our Lady of Perpetual Help parishes, that means there will be special collections at every mass during the 40 days of Lent to benefit The Society of St. Vincent de Paul. The social service organization assists any person in need, regardless of religious affiliation, Hersey said.
The special collections of food and cash donations "will be a more visible sign that we're taking care of those most in need in our community," he said.
Palm Sunday this year is observed on April 1. Good Friday is later that week and Easter is on April 8.
The two parishes have been longtime supporters of St. Vincent de Paul. The social service organization recently requested extra help from the two Everett parishes because donations have declined at a time when requests for help have increased because of the struggling economy, he said.
"It's easy to give at Christmas time, but they need it now," Hersey said.
In south Snohomish County, three churches are coming together in a weekly ecumenical effort to both mark the passage through Lent and to help local and international feeding programs, said the Rev. John Leech, rector of St. Alban's Episcopal Church in Edmonds.
The first of their weekly services is scheduled for Wednesdays starting at 6:30 p.m. The congregations of St. Alban's and Bethell Lutheran Church in Shoreline will worship at Edmonds Lutheran Church, 23525 84th Ave. W. in Edmonds, following the church's weekly community supper.
Food and cash donations will be split among Edmonds Lutheran's weekly community feeding program; Bread for the World, a faith-based national and international feeding program; Bethel Lutheran's food bank; Episcopal Relief and Development, an international food, health and disaster relief group; and Lutheran World Relief, which promotes international clean water programs, emergency aid, health and agricultural programs.
St. Alban's kicked off its own food drive during a Shrove Tuesday celebration, a pancake supper held before Ash Wednesday.
By tradition some foods are restricted during Lent. The practice began as way for people to remove these items from their home so they would not be wasted and to hold a celebration of the eve of Ash Wednesday, according to a guide to Christian holidays by Medford, Ore.-based Sharefaith.
St. Alban's collected $600 of food and cash donations during its event, Leech said, which will be donated to Edmonds Food Bank.
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to help?
As part of their observance of Lent, several churches in Snohomish County are starting drives to help local and international organizations that feed and assist the poor.
If you want to help the two Everett parishes raise money for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, which provides food and other assistance to those in need, call the parish office at 425-349-7014.
Three Edmonds-area churches also are organizing ecumenical food and donation drives for local and international food programs. Call Edmonds Lutheran Church at 425-744-8090.
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