St. Mary Lenten Fish Fries celebrating its 35th year


For the Miami Valley Today

PIQUA — St. Mary Catholic Church’s annual Lenten Fish Fries is celebrating its 35th year.

Jenny Fink, a fourth grade teacher at former St. Mary School, began the first Lenten Fish Fries in the school cafeteria in 1987 with a core group of parents and other volunteers.

“She had a brainstorm to provide a great meal and a place for parish and community members to get together,” said Gretchen Roeth, one of the original volunteers.

“Her enthusiasm and energy got everything rolling,” said Bob Hartings, another volunteer.

They went to say, “We used a family tartar sauce recipe from the Scott family and asked Bill Caserta to make all of the cole slaw for us. Jenny ordered the fish, which we battered with another Scott family breading recipe, and we added french fries and applesauce to the meal and we were set to go.”

“We were working in the old cafeteria of St. Mary School initially until the school (now Piqua Catholic) was remodeled, and a new kitchen and cafeteria were opened in 1994. In the initial years we served about 200 people. Last year in our 34th year of sponsoring the fish fries, the number has grown to almost 400,” they said.

Spencer Peltier and Brad Zimmerman, current co-chairs of the event, organize the volunteers and other co-chairs who help with the six-week Lenten Fish Fries.

“In the past, we have offered both breaded and baked fish along with macaroni and cheese or fries and applesauce or cole slaw,” they said. “The pandemic has changed some of the set up for eating. This year we will do a hybrid format with drive-thru having a set menu of fried fish, macaroni and cheese, cole slaw and a roll. Those wishing to come in for carry out or dine in will have a choice of fried or baked fish, French fries or macaroni and cheese, cole slaw or apple sauce and a roll,” added Peltier. Different organizations in the parish and school also provide desserts, which are available for purchase each week.

“Fish fries would not be possible without the many, many volunteers and people behind the scenes who help,” continued the co-chairs. “This event is a great time for parish and community members to enjoy some great food to dine in or take home.”

The fish fries begin on Friday, March 4, from 5-7 p.m. in the Piqua Catholic School Cafeteria. They will continue March 11, March 18, March 25, April 4, and April 11.

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