Faces of Lent: Community members share why they celebrate

By Annika Gordon , Molly Lowney , Jennifer Ng , Brennan Crowder and Lisa Erenstein | February 28, 2020 12:31pm
Members of the UP community kicked off the Lenten season by having their foreheads marked with ashes during the Ash Wednesday masses.
Media Credit: Annika Gordon / The Beacon

On Wednesday, University of Portland community members could be spotted around campus with black ashes smudged into the shape of a cross (more or less) on their foreheads. Members received these ashes at an Ash Wednesday Mass, a day to kick off the Lenten season where the application of the ashes represents the Catholic belief that people are made from dust and will return to dust.

In commemoration of this day and the season of fasting, praying, and almsgiving before Easter Sunday that is Lent, The Beacon got to talk to these members about why they are celebrating the season this year. 

Fr. Mark Poorman is the president of the university.
by Annika Gordon / The Beacon

Fr. Mark Poorman (he/him/his)

“For the same reason we celebrate Lent every year which is it's a season of the Church set aside for penance. And we pray and we fast and we give alms to the poor as a sign of our own repentance, and we come before God. And it's a preparation for Easter, which is 40 days away.”

Chelsea Kau is a senior marketing major.
by Annika Gordon / The Beacon

Chelsea Kau (she/her/hers)

“I’m celebrating Lent because one, I’m getting confirmed in April and Lent is actually one of my favorite times of the year. But two, it’s a very communal experience and time for us to — or time for me personally — to build a stronger connection and relationship with God and Jesus through fasting, almsgiving, and prayer.” 

Jade Harloe (left) and Isa Carrillo (right) are freshmen nursing majors.

by Jennifer Ng / The Beacon

Jade Harloe (she/her/hers)

“I’ve grown up Catholic, so I’ve always done Lent every year — something I’m kind of used to.”

Isa Carrillo (she/her/hers)

“Same as Jade.”

Mason Fredenberg is a senior theology major.
by Molly Lowney / The Beacon

Mason Fredenberg (he/him/his)

“I celebrate Lent because it’s an opportunity for spiritual growth and just a way of reconnecting with God.” 

Jo Jacoby is a sophomore psychology major.
by Annika Gordon / The Beacon

Jo Jacoby (she/her/hers)

“I celebrate Lent because I’ve been Catholic my whole life and it’s something I’ve always done and going to college away from home, it’s kind of sometimes hard to stick with your faith so Lent is usually a time for me to reconnect with God and really just get closer to Him and find what I lost.”

Grace Dorn is a junior nursing major.
by Brennan Crowder / The Beacon

Grace Dorn (she/her/hers)

"It's a very intentional time that I get to focus more on my faith and focusing on things I may have let go during other parts of the year. It's a time for me to, yeah, recenter on things I find valuable, and allow myself to feel uncomfortable, in regards to things that I give up and give me that peace. It's also great. I love it."

Sadie Craig is a senior nursing major.
by Annika Gordon / The Beacon

Sadie Craig (she/her/hers)

“Because I’m Catholic. It’s obviously a Catholic tradition in our family and today, the family group chat was sending pictures of everyone’s selfies with their ashes, and I needed to contribute to that.” 

Rebekah Padua is a senior math and theology major.
by Lisa Erenstein / The Beacon

Rebekah Padua (she/her/hers)

“It’s a good way for me to bring myself back to my faith and remind myself how important it is to stay grounded in it."

Theodore West is a sophomore civil engineering major.
by Jennifer Ng / The Beacon

Theodore West (he/him/his)

“The reason I’m celebrating (Lent) this year is because it’s just like a tradition that I have. My whole family is Catholic and we value faith very much, and I think that it’s important to keep my holy obligation to the Church and to Christ. And I think that by doing this, it helps me be a better person and have a better connection with God.”

Monique Marquez is a sophomore political science major.
by Lisa Erenstein / The Beacon

Monique Marquez (she/her/hers)

“It was a hard year full of more stress, so getting back into Mass helped with that.”

Abbey Hill is a fifth year senior civil engineering major.
by Annika Gordon / The Beacon

Abbey Hill (she/her/hers)

“Well, I am in the RCIA program. So, God willing, I’ll be baptized in April and I’m so excited! So, why am I celebrating? I’m celebrating as a welcoming in as well as a preparation for baptism and the celebration of that.” 

Kathy Simek is the administrative assistant to the president of the university.
by Annika Gordon / The Beacon

Kathy Simek (she/her/hers)

“Well, I’m Catholic, and it’s just a way for me to express myself from my belief, and renewing my faith in God.” 

Taylor Gilliland is a senior electrical engineer.
by Annika Gordon / The Beacon

Tyler Gilliland (he/him/his)

“Why this year? I’ve done it every year, but why this year specifically? There’s always something I need to learn about myself.” 

Connor Gilliland is a fifth year senior electrical engineer.
by Annika Gordon / The Beacon

Connor Gilliland (he/him/his)

“More or less the same reasons as the last few years, but biggest thing is to take a moment to step back and work on what needs working on the most with regards to my relationship with God and others. I think a good way to break that down is how the Church breaks it down between fasting, almsgiving and prayer. Needless to say, trying to do a little bit of each of those. As I’ve done more or less in the past few years, I’ve seen awesome things as a result, myself and everybody else. So, yeah, not gonna fix what’s not broken. So, I’m gonna keep going!”

Brittany D'Souza is a senior biology and Spanish major.
by Annika Gordon / The Beacon

Brittany D’Souza (she/her/hers)

“I think it’s a beautiful way to stop and reflect and really focus in on faith tradition.” 

Diana Salgado Huicochea is a senior biology and theology major.
by Annika Gordon / The Beacon

Diana Salgado Huicochea (she/her/hers)

“I'm celebrating Lent this year because it's part of my Catholic faith and it's a great season to remember the reason for why Jesus went into the desert and how he died for us. When they put the ashes on your forehead, they usually say ‘Repent and go preach the gospel,’ or they say, ‘Remember, you are made from dust, and into dust you shall return.’ So, remembering your death and how death is not the end, but Jesus will resurrect and we will too up in heaven with God.”

Rebecca Robles is a sophomore organizational communication and spanish major.
by Molly Lowney / The Beacon

Rebecca Robles (she/her/hers)

“I’m celebrating Lent because I feel like it’s one of my favorite — not holidays — but festivities of the Catholic religion. Because it seems very selfless and it’s a great opportunity for Christians and just anyone to be able to give stuff up and appreciate what they have.” 

Katie Wojda is a junior English and Spanish double major.
by Brennan Crowder / The Beacon

Katie Wojda (she/her/hers)

"It's interesting that (The Beacon) would say this year specifically because I think my favorite part about Lent is that it's every year. So like, it's a tradition, so it's nice to come back to it. I definitely love this time because I always need it, you know, I need to kind of like — I definitely use it as a way to kind of disconnect. I try to be off of social media more normally, and get into a more regular like prayer life again. So, I don't know, it's just really good for like re-centering myself that normally comes at just the right time as well in the academic year when I'm feeling really not motivated. And I'm like, okay, well I'm going to get up and like pray, and then it just so happens that like when I do that … my days are all just kind of better anyway, helps me to live the rest of my life as well."

Tyler Wagner is the Immersion Program Manager in the Moreau Center for Service and Justice.
by Annika Gordon / The Beacon

Tyler Wagner (he/him/his)

“I feel like Lent is a time of preparation for the celebration of Easter. I think it's often a time where we think about giving something up, but I really appreciated the homily today about opening that up so we have more space for love. So, I think often a lot of times, adding something and for me, this year, I think it's kind of a focus on climate justice and like how can I be more open, more prepared to be connected to our earth and the impact that it has on all of us, all of humanity? And so I think really with that connection of that we return to dust, that we have this connection with the earth and so, just having this kind of extra space during Lent, to really be able to take time to focus on something like that, I really appreciate."