Episcopal priest brings spiritual season to hospital (video)

The Rev. Bur Dobbins visits Citizens Medical Center to bring Ash Wednesday to patients and staff.
  • WHAT IS ASH WEDNESDAY?

  • During Lent, many of the faithful commit to fasting or giving up certain types of luxuries as a form of penitence.

    In Western Christianity, Ash Wednesday marks the first day, or the start of the season of Lent, which begins ...

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  • WHAT IS ASH WEDNESDAY?

    During Lent, many of the faithful commit to fasting or giving up certain types of luxuries as a form of penitence.

    In Western Christianity, Ash Wednesday marks the first day, or the start of the season of Lent, which begins 40 days before Easter (Sundays are not included in the count). Lent is a time when many Christians prepare for Easter by observing a period of fasting, repentance, moderation and spiritual discipline. During some Ash Wednesday services, the minister will lightly rub the sign of the cross with ashes onto the foreheads of worshipers.

    Source: About.com

Black crosses slowly started appearing upon people's foreheads at the hospital as the priest made his annual rounds.

For the past four years, the Rev. Bur Dobbins, of Trinity Episcopal Church, has visited local hospitals and businesses to bring Ash Wednesday to people who can't make it to their services that day.

At Citizens Medical Center, Dobbins was a familiar face to hospital staff.

Doctors and nurses approached Dobbins for a quick ashing on their way to their next patient.

Patient Judy Murphee, 68, wore a pink, sequined cap over a leopard print sash as Dobbins placed the blessed ashes upon her head.

Her husband, John Murphee, 73, watched and was happy to see his wife receive the blessing from their church priest.

Judy Murphee, who had undergone chemotherapy for the past several weeks at Citizens, said she's often visited by other members of the Episcopal church.

"He comes here pretty often to check on me," Murphee said. "It's something very special that I get to start Lent off on the right track."

A priest from an area Catholic church greeted Dobbins warmly after stumbling into each other in the intensive care unit.

The Episcopalian said while he doesn't mind ashing people of other faiths, some believers prefer their own church leader.

"It can sort of turn into a hit or miss," Dobbins said. "But one thing I've found is people usually don't care what denomination you are."

Nurse Lucy Morales popped her head out from behind a door and walked over to be ashed by the priest.

Morales, a Catholic, said she didn't mind receiving the ashes from a non-Catholic clergy member.

"I'm glad he's here for the people who can't take a break long enough to get the ashes," Morales said. "It changes the pace in the day."

As other medical professionals lined up, Morales scurried down the hall to tell patients they could receive ashes from a priest.

From a nearby waiting room, Shiner resident Victor Kneifel waved Dobbins over with his hand.

He was there waiting on his wife, a patient at the medical center Wednesday.

Kneifel took off his tan-colored cowboy hat and placed it over the center of his waist, as Dobbins rubbed the ashes onto his sunburnt, freckled forefront, "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return."