"This is Ash Wednesday, a Christian tradition," said Mother Paula Jackson yesterday afternoon to a group of 40 community activists, as large snowflakes fell on Fountain Square in downtown Cincinnati.
"It's a good time for all of us to reflect on the need for justice in our lives and in our society," Mother Paula said in English and Spanish. "Just as individuals are responsible for justice in our society, so are the companies and the corporations responsible."
"He was speaking to the bosses, the owners, the rich people of society, telling them that they should not oppress the workers," Mother Paula said. "His words are very relevant to us today. No matter what your faith tradition is, no matter what the basis for your belief in justice, we believe that these are words that speak to all of us."
In the litany, the assembly called themselves to repentance, and also asked corporations who operate in the Cincinnati area to repent of cutting wages, profiting from the mistreatment of farm workers, cutting hours to avoid their obligations under the Affordable Care Act, and endangering worker health and safety.
After receiving ashes on their own foreheads from Mother Paula, congregants applied ashes on signs representing Fifth Third Bank, Wendy's, Brantley Security, Lamar Construction, and Patriot MMS. Then they carried the signs to several of the corporations' offices in the downtown area.
The assembly included representatives from the Cincinnati Interfaith Workers Center, SEIU Local 1, Fresh Expressions of the Diocese of Southern Ohio, and the Workers' Freedom Coalition of Patriot and Lamar Striking Workers.