February 17, 2021

Amber Roseboom
Director of Media Relations
Catholic Diocese of Arlington

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, Diocese of Arlington, to Celebrate Ash Wednesday Mass and Distribute Ashes at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington, VA. Today 

Bishop Burbidge Offered New Guidelines for Distribution of Ashes Given Ongoing Pandemic 

ARLINGTON, Va. - Today, February 17, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge will distribute ashes to the faithful during the Ash Wednesday Mass at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington, Va. at 12:05 p.m.

Given the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and need for continued health and safety precautions related to liturgical celebrations, Bishop Burbidge issued guidance to diocesan priests regarding the distribution of ashes this year. These guidelines provide for the distribution without the priest touching the forehead of the faithful. Bishop Burbidge left it to the priest's discretion if he chooses to implement the “usual manner” for distribution of ashes for pastoral reasons. The “usual manner” refers to the faithful processing up to the minister, and the minister applying the ashes to the forehead of the faithful in the sign of the cross.


Ash Wednesday Mass, Celebrated by Bishop Michael F. Burbidge
Ash Distribution to Take Place During Mass


Wednesday, February 17, 2021
12:05 p.m.


The Cathedral of St. Thomas More
3901 Cathedral Lane
Arlington, VA 22203

Mass will be celebrated consistent with COVID-19 mitigation guidelines, including social distancing.  All participants aged five and over are expected to wear face covering, unless a health condition precludes him/her from doing so.

Interested media, contact Amber Roseboom, Director of Media Relations, Catholic Diocese of Arlington, at 571-215-8731 or


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The Catholic Diocese of Arlington was established on August 13, 1974, and is home to 71 parishes and more than 460,000 Catholics. There are currently 276 priests serving in the Diocese and 45 seminarians discerning a priestly vocation. The Diocese has 37 parish (K-8) schools, four diocesan high schools, four independent Catholic schools and five free-standing (not connected with a parish school) pre-schools, serving more than 17,000 students. 

The Diocese includes the seven cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Fredericksburg, Manassas, Manassas Park, and Winchester and the 21 counties of Arlington, Clarke, Culpeper, Fairfax, Fauquier, Frederick, King George, Lancaster, Loudoun, Madison, Northumberland, Orange, Page, Prince William, Rappahannock, Richmond, Shenandoah, Spotsylvania, Stafford, Warren and Westmoreland.