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Marco Islanders observe Ash Wednesday: 'We are all sinners'

Hundreds of parishioners attended one of six Ash Wednesday services at San Marco Catholic Church on Feb. 26.

Father Jack O'Leary said after mass that one thing Catholics must remember from Ash Wednesday is the fact that everybody sins.

"(We must) acknowledge that we are all sinners and that we are called to do good deeds," O'Leary said. "So that good deeds be gifts of prayer and charity during the 40 days so that we will able to rejoice when Christ rises from the dead on Easter Sunday."

Ash Wednesday – officially known as the Day of Ashes – is a day of repentance, when Christians confess their sins and profess their devotion to God.

More:Why Christians wear ashes for Ash Wednesday and give up their favorite things for Lent

During a Mass, a priest places the ashes on a worshiper's forehead in the shape of a cross. The ceremony, which also can be performed by a minister or pastor, is meant to show that a person belongs to Jesus Christ, and it also represents a person's grief and mourning for their sins – the same sins that Christians believe Jesus Christ gave his life for when he died on the cross.

Ash Wednesday is important because it marks the start of the Lenten period leading up to Easter, when Christians believe Jesus was resurrected.

Pope Francis tweeted on Wednesday about the Lenten period.

"This year the Lord grants us, once again, a favourable time to prepare to celebrate with renewed hearts the great mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus, the cornerstone of Christian life," he wrote.

Additional reporting by Dwight Adams, IndyStar.

Omar Rodríguez Ortiz is a community reporter for Naples Daily News and Marco Eagle. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram as @Omar_fromPR, and on Facebook. Support his work by subscribing to Naples Daily News.