Liz Burke and Kim Kalunian, WPRO News
Episcopal Bishop Nicholas Knisley stood outside of the Providence Train Station Wednesday, but he wasn't hailing a cab or preparing to go inside to hop on the rail.
Knisley was offering ashes to commuters in celebration of Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent in the Western Chrsitian calendar.
Knisley said the idea to offer ashes remotely -- versus the traditional imposition of ashes in a church -- began about three years ago in Chicago, when a priest offered the sacramental to people waiting at a train station.
Knisley said it was a good way to help people think about their relationship to God and to one another.
"I'll bet you in that line of people there were some folks that hadn't been in church in a couple of years, and that's wonderful," said Knisley of those who received their ashes at the train station.
Knisely said historically Ash Wednesday was a time when people were invited to embrace their faith; now it's more about discipline.
"This is the church's spring training," he said. "We're inviting people to take their faith seriously for the next 40 days as they prepare for the great feast of Easter."