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Ohio Catholics reschedule feast day

Admitting that Catholics can't get to Mass on weekdays as they used to, Ohio's Catholic bishops have moved observance of the Feast of the Ascension to a Sunday.

The change takes effect this year, with the feast of Christ's ascension into heaven being celebrated June 4 instead of June 1.

Ascension Day still falls on a Thursday _ 40 days after Easter _ but its observance will be on a Sunday to enable more people to keep the feast.

"With working schedules, it's difficult for a lot of people to get to Mass on a holy day that's not also a civil holiday," said Dan Andriacco, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

Cincinnati Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk approved the change, along with the Latin-rite bishops of Toledo, Cleveland, Columbus, Steubenville and Youngstown.

By doing so, they join bishops in Kentucky, Tennessee and Texas who have approved similar measures.

Roman Catholics in Mexico, Canada and Italy also observe the Ascension on Sunday instead of Thursday.

According to the New Testament book of Acts, Christ ascended into heaven 40 days after his resurrection.

The feast of the Ascension is considered a holy day of obligation for Catholics, meaning they are expected to attend Mass that day.

Catholics are finding it more difficult to fulfill that obligation today because work schedules are more complex, Andriacco said.

But critics of the change say it's a concession to spiritual indifference among Catholics.

Lifelong Catholic Ted J. McGoron, of Sayler Park, Ohio, said people make time for what's important to them.

"It's not harder, it's just that it's too much trouble for some people," said McGoron.

"The bishops downgrade the importance of a thing by taking away its uniqueness."

The decision by the Ohio bishops to move the celebration of the Ascension is not unprecedented. The U.S. church observes two other holy days of obligation _ Epiphany and Corpus Christi _ on Sunday instead of the day given in the general church calendar.