I really wanted to entitle this reflection: "You're welcome". That would be in response to the "Thank you" that we as a Catholic community should receive from the larger community. Let me explain what I mean.
As I drive past McDonald's I see signs for shamrock shakes or shamrock smiley cookies at Eat and Park leading up to March 17th (Saint Patrick). The florists, candy makers and card shops make a bundle on February 14th (Saint Valentine's Day). Restaurants are adding fish to the "lenten menu's" and fire halls, non profits and charities embrace Fish Fry's on Fridays. These join the myriad of churches that sponsor fish dinners, including our own at SEAS (Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton). We are good for the economy. We are great for business.
Our local parishes have these Friday Lenten specials. Immaculate Conception has fish sandwiches for lunch. Saint Agnes has a fish dinner, as do we. (From a prejudiced point of view, I believe that ours is the best!) All work hard at these projects, and the support shown is greatly appreciated.
Here at SEAS we serve every Friday from 4:00 to 7:00 pm in Mack Hall (on the lower level of the church). Our dedicated group of volunteers, led by Debbie Pazehoski, prepares a wide variety of foods:
dinners such as baked salmon, lemon pepper sole, baked & fried fish, fried shrimp and crab cakes ... baked, fried and beer battered fish sandwiches ... and an "a la carte" menu that includes halushki, mac and cheese, pizza, cheese sticks, etc, etc, etc. And the prices are great. People come from all over. Last Friday alone we served over 500 people. We have a very loyal following.
This doesn't just happen. It takes long hours of dedicated and hard work by a committed group of people. As their pastor, I cannot express my gratitude enough. I am very proud of them.
Thank God for the Catholic practice of abstaining from eating meat on Fridays during Lent. Thank God for the rich traditions of the saints. Thank God for the recognition that the larger community gives to us (even if for economic reasons). A few people have asked: "Why fish?" Maybe it was because many of the early guys were fishermen by trade. Enter into the spirit of sacrifice on these Lenten Fridays in some way, and enjoy the fish dinners that are available. You are welcome to join us at SEAS for dinner or for worship.