This week marks the start of the Lenten season for Christians around the world. The traditional 40-day period leads up the celebration of Easter, and for Catholics, it means skipping meat for the next seven Fridays.
However, local residents don’t have to worry about cooking up a meatless meal at home for six of those seven days. The Msgr. Hugh Michael Beahan Council #7719 of the Knights of Columbus will be serving up fish and all the fixings at St. Mary Church on Amity Street.
You don’t have to be Catholic to come enjoy the meal, and money raised from the dinners will go to the Alpha Family Center to purchase an ultrasound machine for the non-profit to use in their new space.
An Old Tradition with New Twists
Lenten fish fry dinners have been a mainstay at St. Mary Church for years. Tim Hess, Grand Knight of the church’s Knights of Columbus council, doesn’t know exactly when they started but says they’ve been held for at least the nine years he’s been part of the parish.
The Lowell Knights have focused on creating a menu that appeals to people of all ages. Each week, there is baked and fried cod, French fries, macaroni and cheese, coleslaw, applesauce and corn bread. “It’s a good basic, simple fish fry,” Hess says.
New this year is a dessert table which will be manned by the women’s council. For $1, diners get a dessert ticket to select something from the table. Hess wasn’t sure if the organizers would have other bake sale items available for purchase and that could depend on whether there is demand for those extra items this week. “We’ll see how it goes,” he says. “This is pretty new. The first fish fry is always a wild card.”
Another new addition to the St. Mary fish fry for 2018 is the sale of pasties. Viki’s Bridge Street Pasty Shop in Saranac will be on-hand to sell beef, chicken and vegetable pasties during the fish fry. “You can come and buy two meals in one stop,” Hess says.
Ultrasound Machine Priority for Knights and Alpha Family Center
The Knights of Columbus at St Mary Church have set an ambitious goal for their fish fry dinners. They’re hoping to raise $12,500 for the purchase of a new ultrasound machine for Alpha Family Center.
“Our current machine does not have an audible heartbeat, only a visual,” says Christa Wetzel, executive director of Alpha Family Center, “[and it] is also unable to be repaired because it is too old.”
Hess says the Knights heard about the need at Alpha Family Center, and he and some other members of the council met with Wetzel. “I like Alpha’s philosophy,” he says. “They stress going to church, but they aren’t a religious organization.” That means anyone can receive services without any requirement to adhere to a certain set of beliefs.
However, the money from the St. Mary’s Knights won’t be enough to pay for the machine, which will be able to conduct 3D ultrasounds. Instead, the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus – the group’s governing council – will be pitching in the remaining amount. The Supreme Council has made it a priority to fund the purchase of 1,000 ultrasound machines nationwide and provides a dollar-for-dollar match to the fundraising efforts of local councils.
If the St. Mary council is unable to raise enough money for the machine through their fish fry dinners, they will work to find other funding sources to make up the difference. Those who aren’t fans of fish but want to help with the ultrasound fundraiser can make a donation online.
The dinners will be held from 5pm-7pm every Friday from February 16 to March 23 at St. Mary Church. Take out is available, and meals cost $4 for children 12 and younger and $8 for those age 13 and older. The price per family is capped at $25. Dessert tickets are an additional $1. Pasties, that can be taken home and cooked, will be sold for $5 each.