The opportunity to create community, honor Catholic church teachings during Lent and to raise a few bucks to help area churches kept the fish fry experience from disappearing during a COVID-19 Lenten season.
Our Lady of Peace Parish in Ashtabula, Assumption Church in Geneva and Sacred Heart Church in Rock Creek all decided to adjust their fish fry plans to meet COVID-19 guidelines and pushed forward to meet the needs of their communities. All three shifted to pick-up options due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"We've changed fish. We are using a beer battered fish and a cod loin," said Laddie Marous, who helps coordinate the food for the fish fry at Sacred heart Church. He said the food choice allowed less contact with the fish by those preparing it to better meet guidelines.
Marous said the church has been sponsoring a fish fry for about 40 years with a few year break along the line. He said the proceeds go to an adult education fund that helps provide funds in case of financial emergencies.
He said the parish is also sponsored a traditional Irish dinner on March 17 including corned beef, cabbage, desert and other additional items for $10.
"Just being here on Friday," is what brings Jeff Carlson back to Sacred Heart year after year to help fry the fish. He said volunteers from various aspects of the church participate including people from the Altar Rosary Society, the Knights of Columbus, the adult education program to name a few.
Father Daniel Finnerty, of Assumption Church, was busy helping prepare fish dinners for transport to cars waiting in the parking lot on Friday afternoon in Geneva. He said the event is a traditional way to build community and provide a service to the community.
Jerry Privitera coordinates the Assumption event. He said the church has been sponsoring the event for the last four or five years and place a high priority on hand cut fries and the quality of the fish.
Privitera said the fish fry also provides a grilled fish for those who don't want to eat friend foods.
Our Lady of Peace Parish has a long history regarding a Lenten fish fry with St. Joseph Church being the usual event site. The fish fry has moved to Mount Carmel Community Center for 2021, said coordinator Paul Atzemis who was touching base with more than 30 volunteers who were in place to make the socially distanced event a reality.
"We needed more room (to social distance)," Atzemis said of the switch. He said they are following all of the CDC requirements.
People arrived at a front table where small plastic partition windows were in place between customers and those taking orders, then waited for their food in chairs more than six feet apart.
Atzemis said orders were going well under the new format. He said the event is a great community builder and many of the volunteers have been doing it for 10 years or more.