The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


February 6, 2008

Fridays' catches | Churches have winning recipes for fish fries



Undertaking one fish fry each week during Lent can be a daunting task for many churches, but parishioners at SS. Gregory & Barnabas Roman Catholic Church offer two.

Before the two churches merged nearly seven years ago, each enjoyed a reputation of providing tasty meals during Lenten Fridays, when Catholics are prohibited from eating meat.

The Rev. Bob Ruston, pastor of St. Gregory Church in Daisytown and St. Barnabas Church in Bon Air, said fish fries are held each week of Lent in his parishes. Dinners also are conducted from October to Good Friday at St. Gregory’s.

“We kept both because they have enjoyed such success over the years,” Ruston said. “We would be foolish not to continue the practice as long as we are able to get enough volunteers to sustain each one.”

Lent marks the busiest season for fish dinners around the region, but SS. Gregory & Barnabas have earned acclaim by offering two of the area’s finest fish fries.

“All of the money goes into the general fund of the parish,” Ruston said.

Dinner committee members from each church said they don’t see themselves in competition because each church offers a different menu.

Gerri Malzi of St. Barnabas said the church entices patrons by offering homemade pierogi and haluski.

Members begin making pierogi in September in preparation for the Lenten dinners.

“We get together several times a week and make about 140 dozen each day,” Malzi said.

St. Barnabas offers an a la carte menu, where a person can order a pierogi as a side for 50 cents, or a pierogi dinner for $4.50.

“We offer baked and fried fish by the piece or as a dinner,” Malzi said.

St. Barnabas offers shrimp dinners for $7.50 and a haluski dinner for $4.50. Fish and shrimp dinners are served with french fries, coleslaw, a roll and beverage, while pierogi and haluski dinners come with coleslaw, roll and beverage.

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