The crackle of sizzling oil is a common soundtrack during Lent at Saints Peter and Paul School.
For the 14th year the school’s athletic association is cooking up fish and shrimp for their Lenten fundraiser.
“We thought of a way to create parish community and have some commonality during Lent,” said Bob Wood, a Naperville resident who helped start the event 14 years ago. “We figured let’s have a party every week during lent.”
And they aren’t alone. St. Raphael’s Parish also hosts a weekly Friday Fellowship Fish Fry in their school’s gym.
Diners range from young to old at the family event.
“We have 4,000 families in this parish, it’s huge,” said St. Raphael parishioner Carol Gallagher. “You can’t hope to see everyone at mass.”
But these churches aren’t without their competition; the Judd Kendall VFW on Jackson St. has also been serving up Friday dinner during Lent for more than 50 years.
“People come with neighbors, family, and they can bring the kids,” said Ken Garhan, the Service Officer for the VFW. “It’s a family thing. One of the things we’ve noticed is people will finish eating and they’ll stay and visit.”
For everyone, religious or not, it’s less about the fish…and more about the friendship.
“You have older folks, you have school parents, and you have young kids,” said Ss. Peter and Paul Fish Fry Coordinator Tom Antenelli. “You see kids who went to grad school here, it’s a homecoming.”
“I’ve been in this parish in 28 years and working this fish fry and I meet people I’ve never met before,” said Gallagher. “It’s all about meeting people and community.”
“We’ve had some cold nasty winters and this is the break of cabin fever, we get groups of people coming in and they haven’t see each other since last fall and then it’s like old time,” said VFW member Chuch Vladika. “It’s kind of a reunion in the community.”
Dinner prices for the three locations range from $9 to $11 dollars. The proceeds are used to fund various programs within the organizations.
All three locations are open every Friday at 5:00 p.m. from now through March 22th, with the VFW also serving March 29th for Good Friday.
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