Fourteen years ago, the newly formed Men’s Club of St. Michael’s and St. Mary’s in Stillwater looked at the restaurant-size kitchen at the parish center and decided to host a fish fry every Friday during Lent. While the group does make a small amount of money for their church ministries and local food shelves, organizer Bob Simmet said the true goal of the Friday night meal is community.
“We wanted to build parish community and get the community together,” Simmet said.
The season of Lent — a 40-day religious observance in the Christian liturgical calendar — began Ash Wednesday on March 1 and will continue until Easter Sunday on April 16. Many members of Christian denominations observe Lent by abstaining from eating meat on Fridays as a form a fasting, but are allowed to eat fish. The Friday night fish fry held in churches and community centers emerged during Lent as a way to honor the traditional fast while gathering with friends and neighbors.
At St. Michael’s Catholic Church, a team of about 40 men work a full eight hours to prepare and serve hundreds of portions of beer-battered cod.
“It doesn’t happen by accident,” Simmet said. “We have a group of experienced kitchen leaders that organize and prepare the meal.”
In past years, St. Michael’s would see more than 1,000 people on a Friday night. Turnout has been down recently, Simmet said, with 500-800 people coming in for fried fish.
“We take pride to put out the best and we do purchase fairly expensive product,” Simmet said.
Any money raised by the Men’s Club goes to the parish food shelf and the Valley Outreach food shelf, as well as supporting the needs of the churches and St. Croix Catholic.
“We often purchase repairs or replace those non-budget-type items,” Simmet said.
St. Michael’s and St. Mary’s Fish Fry takes place 4:30-7 p.m. during the first six Fridays during Lent, March 3 through April 7 at St. Michael’s Church, 611 Third St. S., Stillwater. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, $6 for children ages 6-12 years with children ages 5 and under free. The meal includes beer-battered cod, parsley buttered potatoes, coleslaw, green beans and macaroni and cheese for children. More information can be found at stmichaelstilwater.org and stmarystillwater.org.
Guardian Angels Catholic Church in Oakdale has its annual fish fry 4:30-7 p.m. March 10, 24 and April 7, and is located at 8260 Fourth St. N. in Oakdale. Tickets are $13 for adults, $11 for seniors, $7 for children ages 6-12, with kids 5 and under eating for free. The meal includes fish, red potatoes, coleslaw, macaroni and cheese, green beans, dessert and a beverage. More information can be found at guardian-angels.org.
The Church of Saint Charles is holding its Lenten Shrimp Pasta Dinner 5-7 p.m. Friday, April 7, in Campbell Hall, 409 N. Third St., Bayport. Tickets are $15 for adults, $5 for youth, and age 5 and under are free. More information can be found at stcharlesbayport.com.
Contact Alicia Lebens at [email protected]