Lenten tradition honored at area churches and clubs

To mark the start of Lent this week, St. Mary Catholic School’s Parish Center was filled with the sounds of sizzling fish and French fries and camaraderie Friday as volunteers served up about 900 pounds of fish for the school’s first fish fry of the year.

Volunteer Dennis Riley managed the fryer and has been active in the fish fry for many years.

“(My favorite part is) just being with everybody,” he said. “Sometimes you see people you haven’t seen in a long time, since last year.”

Cathy Rauch, fish fry coordinator, said she’s been participating for 13 years.

“We’ve kind of got it to a smooth running machine at this point,” she said.

She said it usually takes 30 to 40 people to pull off just one fish fry.

“Everybody has fun doing it,” she added.

Rauch said the fish fry has grown over the years, going from a total of about 1,000 pounds to about 900 pounds per fish fry.

“It’s a lot of fish, it’s a lot of oil, it’s a lot of everything,” she said.

She said all proceeds from the $8.50 dinner go directly to the school, and the meal is all-you-can-eat. The school will be the site of fish fries every Friday through April 11. Seniors can expect to pay about $8, while a child’s admission is $4.50.

Rauch said that people come from all over the county, and some from several states away, like Maryland, who happen to be passing through Marietta at this time each year.

“If you make good fish, people will come back,” she said.

In fact, most people come for the flavorful fish.

Lewis Bohl, 74, of Barlow, said he comes every year with his sisters and brother-in-law.

“We like it because they have good fish,” he said.

Marietta resident Karen Weisend, 59, went with her husband Deacon, 63.

“I love their fish,” she said. “It’s cooked just right and it’s a good event to meet friends and talk together over Lent. It’s just a nice social event.”

“And it helps the school,” Deacon added.

Some Williamstown residents also went to the fish fry.

Patsy Johnson, 63, of Williamstown, said there is more to it than just good food.

“The purpose is good,” she said. “And (so is) the socialization and the fellowship.”

Rauch said the fellowship was a reason everyone should attend.

“It’s a real community, social event,” she said. “It’s not just Catholic people that come; it truly is a community event.”