LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent for millions of Catholics around the world and for the first time in two years, attending Mass on this day is returning to a more normal celebration.

Guardian Angel Cathedral on the Las Vegas Strip tells 8 News Now it’s been seeing larger crowds in recent weeks. The pandemic is having less of an impact.

Churches across the valley have adapted from shutdowns and then hosting small crowds to now when people can gather without wearing a mask if they choose.

Father Bob Stoeckig said this will be the first time there will be a larger crowd for Ash Wednesday and the first time they’ll be able to put an ash cross on foreheads since the pandemic began.

“Last year we were advised to sprinkle ashes on the head which is still a tradition in parts of Europe but has not been so much the American tradition because we were still not only wearing masks but uncertain as we were learning more and more learning about COVID,” said Father Stoeckig, Guardian Angel Cathedral.

Service for Ash Wednesday will also hold a prayer for the people caught in the war in Ukraine.

Father Stoeckig expects people to light candles. 

This is just one of several churches across the valley celebrating. The first service at Guardian Angel begins at 9 a.m. with confession starting at 8 a.m.