Lent Comes to Lunch
Lent comes to lunch
By Elizabeth Smith
The phones start ringing quite early, sometimes as early as 8 a.m.
On one end of the line, faithful parishioners are seeking a way to keep their Lenten promise to abstain from meat on Fridays — even with their busy work schedules. On the other end, volunteers from several parishes in the diocese are working fervently to help ensure that’s exactly what happens.
In addition to traditional dinner fish fry events, many parishes — including Mother of Sorrows in Murrysville, St. Francis of Assisi in Western Fayette County, and the partner parishes of St. John the Baptist in Scottdale and St. Joseph in Everson — host lunchtime fish fries that are popular with working professionals, as well as seniors who prefer to leave home during the day.
“People just love our lunchtime fish fry,” says Carletta Fronczek, St. Francis of Assisi Parish fundraising coordinator and parish organist. “The school district or places where people work, like beauty shops, will call for orders. They just go wild for it, especially because we make homemade pierogies and haluski, which give them access to some of the ethnic food they might not be able to get elsewhere.”
St. Francis of Assisi Parish also hosts Stations of the Cross at noon, which attracts customers to their lunchtime fish fry.
Mother of Sorrows School Principal Theresa Szmed says local businesses are also among their top lunchtime customers, along with older parishioners who prefer to drive during the day and who come for afternoon Stations of the Cross.
At St. John the Baptist Parish — the site where the partner parishes hold their combined fish fry — volunteers have even started a lunch delivery service because their fish fry is so popular.
The afternoon fish fries serve as additional fundraisers for these parishes, and making them a success requires the dedication of many volunteers. At Mother of Sorrows, school families sign up to rotate duties. St. Francis of Assisi Parish volunteers are a group of mostly women, and they start baking prep work as early as Wednesdays. Similarly, the St. John the Baptist Parish and St. Joseph Parish fish fry brings together volunteers from both parishes.
“It has brought both of the parishes together, which is really nice,” says June Morrocco, a member of the finance council at St. John the Baptist Parish, who helps oversee the fish fries with Diane Figg, a finance council member at St. Joseph.
“Our churches are just a block or two away, yet before this there were people at St. Joe’s who I never knew. There are so many people who have met each other and become friends.”
Szmed agrees the Lenten fish fries — whether in the afternoon or the traditional evening dinners — are an important, meaningful way to build fellowship among parishioners.
“Our fish fry is really a family atmosphere, and people don’t want to leave,” Szmed said. “They meet other members of the community, and they want to stay and have a great time.”
Immaculate Conception Parish
St. Joseph Parish
SS. Cyril and Methodius Parish
St. Francis of Assisi Parish
Our Lady of Grace Parish
St. Barbara Parish
Immaculate Conception Parish
St. John the Evangelist Parish
The Epiphany of Our Lord Parish
Mother of Sorrows Parish
Mount St. Peter Parish
St. John the Baptist Parish
St. John the Baptist Parish (with St. Joseph Parish, Everson)