To most Catholics around the world, Lent is marked by abstinence and reflection. As a spiritual gesture, they give up something they enjoy and they abstain from eating meat on the six Fridays of Lent because it was on this day of the week that Christ died. Albeit a solemn time, Lent is also about community.
"The key to the Lenten tradition is to bring people together," said Father Ken Sales of Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church (IHM). "For the last six years, the Knights of Columbus - our men's organization - has hosted a Friday fish fry so that we can walk this Lenten journey together and share our faith with the community."
The annual fish fry has grown to be one of the largest and most anticipated fundraisers for Brentwood's only Catholic Church. For six Fridays, starting Feb. 8 and continuing through March 14, the Knights of Columbus host a dine-in or take-out dinner from 5 to 7 p.m. The dinner includes fish, chips, coleslaw and a drink for $10. Last year, the fish fry drew more than 150 people each Friday.
"Prayer, fasting and abstinence are the pillars of Lent and they help unite us with Jesus' suffering," said Father Ken. "When we gather together in our homes or at events like the fish fry, we uplift each other. In essence, the annual fish fry helps to unite us to one another and build up our community."
Following the fish fry each Friday, the priests of Immaculate Heart of Mary will also lead dinner guests through the Stations of the Cross. The stations are the cornerstones of the Catholic faith and tell the story of Jesus.
The term Lent refers to the lengthening of the days as spring approaches. In line with the term's hopeful origins, Father Ken's favorite description of Lent is a message of anticipation and spiritual growth.
He quotes a Jesuit colleague who says Lent is "realizing how much we want to grow in freedom, how much we need to lighten our spirits and experience some real joy, and how much some parts of our lives really need changing."
IHM Knight of Columbus Robert Morretta, a former executive chef and coordinator of this year's fish fry, invites people of all faiths to attend the church's annual dinner festivities. The weekly fish fry is held at the church, 500 Fairview Ave. For more information, call 634-4154.
- Contributed by Michele Spring Fajeau