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Christians receive ashes at the mall

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Christians receive ashes at the mall
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It's an important time for many Christians worldwide. Ash Wednesday marks the first day of Lent. While many people attend services at their church, one group went to a special mass at Destiny USA. YNN's Carmella Mataloni takes a closer look at the yearly tradition.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- For thirteen years, the Franciscan Place has offered ashes to people on Ash Wednesday.

"It's a reminder for us that it’s the beginning of the season of repentance and reconciliation," said Friar Adam Keltose of The Franciscan Place.

While the tradition usually takes place in a church, this service brings the ashes to the Carousel sky deck at Destiny USA. A place where church officials say they see a lot of faces.

"They are at the mall, they want to shop, let's take a break and pray," said Rosemary Costa, Franciscan Place Director.

The Franciscan Place main chapel is located on the common level of the mall, offering daily services throughout the week. Those who are a part of the church say it's in the perfect location.

Those who came out for ashes agree that being able to receive them in a public place is very convenient because those people who work or may not be able to make it to a mass now have that opportunity.

"We aren't going to be home this afternoon that it would be convenient to come to mass here at the mall and receive our ashes," said Liverpool resident Lorrance Kiehl.

While the distribution of ashes has been around for centuries, church officials say it’s important for all Christians to know what the ashes mean.

"You have to understand why you are receiving the ashes. To enter into Lenten season so you could have a clean heart," said Costa.

"We're not just here to make ourselves happy and to get more than the next person. We are here to fulfill our purposes and that’s to glorify God," said Friar Keltose.

Along with the receiving of ashes, many people also give something up. The fast leading up to Easter, showing devotion to God.

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