Lenten Fish Fry Suppers

I love a good fish fry! I also enjoy the Mayberry sort of feeling of a community supper. I’m finding it rather difficult to find info on these the last few years. You used to see signs in front of churches and flyers all over town. Busy churches would hire police to direct traffic in and out of their location. Now there is no sign of them.

As I was searching online for my area (Triangle area, NC) I noticed many Knights of Columbus groups have cut back to just 1 - 3 dates during Lent. It was hard to even find mention of the dinners on many of the church websites. The KOC websites were even worse - many haven’t been updated in years.

Which made me wonder…Has this facet of Lent (no meat Fridays) become less observed? Are there simply not enough volunteers to put these events on? Are community suppers no longer of interest?

So I’m curious if it just my part of the country or if this is happening elsewhere. What have you observed? (Please note your geographic area!)

Where I live in SE Michigan, the Friday Fish Frys during Lent are a significant institution. The Detroit Free Press, the Detroit News, Metro times, and the “local” C&G newspapers have all published locations for these dinners. Almost every Catholic parish in SE MI conducts them. It’s almost a signature of the season.

I’ve seen that they are not limited to Catholic churches alone. Many other Christian churches observing Lent have joined in the fray. And in my local area, fraternal organizations have stepped up too. We have a plethora of options the tri-counties.



Have you noticed any changes in the Houston offerings?

That is great! So many areas are having trouble getting younger members. As the older ones age out I’ve seen some have to close. I’ve also noticed some change with the times such as begin accepting women as member, update their charitable focus, etc.

Tons of them in the New Orleans area, where I live. I plan to hit a different fish fry every Friday evening between now and Easter :yum:


A typical one in KC. I’m still searching here in Oregon. :slight_smile:


I tried and failed this past Friday. :disappointed:

I had an errand to run in Chapel Hill about 2 miles from a Catholic Church that showed a nice menu in years past. I emailed them about fish supper hours since there was no info on their web site for 2019. Unfortunately, they begin 3/15 with an every other week plan.

I regrouped, located a church in Durham that worked with my route home. Again, no up to date info on FB or website for church or their associated KoC. They did email me back with the schedule.

Traffic and rain made a 1/2 hour drive become 75 minutes. Arrived at the church at 6:40 to find no sign of dinner. The dinner was supposed to last until 7. They must have closed up quite early - not even the scent of fried fish lingered. Everything was dark and empty except for service in the worship hall.

Which is what prompted this thread. It has never been this hard to find a fish supper before!


You raise an interesting Q. I strayed from the flock long ago but I have often wondered why churches have these fish frys. They don’t seem to charge much. I think years ago a lot of the fish was caught by its members and given to the church. But nowadays it’s probably Asian Tilapia? I can’t imagine where else they’re getting it from in that quantity. Are the churches just trying to drum up new business as in new Parishioners? Maybe I shouldn’t voice my thoughts like this but it was a thought.:blush:

p.s. - Hope I haven’t offended any churchgoers here. That was not my intention.

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I’m not Christian, so my thoughts are pure speculation:

In many communities the flyers would specify that non-church members were welcome and that the dinner was a church fund raiser. Often goods and services are donated for fund raisers so I suspect the fish is often provided at a discount. I have seen local fish markets listed and thanked for their support on the flyers and church newsletters. In my area the variety of fish is listed and often it is cod.

I would imagine that someone who has “strayed” might find a church supper to be a comfortable way to scope out the congregation without creating expectations that attending a worship service might. So the suppers could serve as an open door for some.

I’ve always thought that a good part of the reason is that many people seem to be uncomfortable cooking fish and frying food in general. Having fish available at a reasonable price helps those who might be inclined to skip this aspect of Lent to keep the practice. I think people give up certain behaviors or foods, etc. for Lent? If so, the weekly suppers could be a nice support system for those having a tough time with their personal period of giving something up.

I recall as a child attending pancake meals with my father. They were very well attended and held under an enormous tent in the parking lot of a busy grocery store. It started at breakfast and continued all day into the night. It was always on a week day and I think it had something to with Lent too… It was the first time I had experienced the little hot-dog shaped breakfast sausages. They were very hard to eat with a plastic fork! A priest came by and must have seen this small child struggling. He sat down and showed me how to wrap a pancake around the sausage, dip it in syrup and eat it as a hand held sandwich!

Whatever the reasons I’m glad the tradition seems to be going strong in many areas.


Heaven forbid! Cod fuels the Lenten fish frys in the Upper Midwest.


There’s a church here in northern Durham, NC that gives you a choice of fried whiting or broiled salmon! Updating the menu for modern times. :slight_smile:


Just think of it as food bingo.


This is an outrageous menu offered by the A O H!
A maximum of $36 for a family?
Takeout: $10?
Almost worth calling Southwest for a few plane tickets.

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I grew up in Philadelphia, a member of the local RC Church, but I don’t remember ever seeing a fish fry. Dad was a huge fan of fried meat/fish, but not a big fan of communal meals, so I don’t know if they didn’t exist or if he just didn’t partake. Then again, I don’t recall mom/grands/aunts recalling fish fries, so it probably wasn’t a “thing” in Philly.

Mom & dad didn’t eat meat on any Friday when they grew up (1930-ish). Growing up, we were pretty observant not eating meat on Ash Wed and Fridays during lent.

Now? Nope. Dad is gone and so is that tradition.


In New Orleans, at the church I went to last Friday, nine bucks got you two pieces of fish, a serving of crawfish pasta, French fries, cole slaw, a beverage (wine, soda, or sweet tea), and a cookie. I had to roll myself out of there.


Interesting. A good friend of mine grew up in Philadelphia but we never discussed fish fry suppers. The only church related things I remember her speaking of involved the nuns at her parochial school (free to attend). The teen aged girls were told they should carry a copy of the Philly Yellow Pages to use as a barrier if they had to sit on a boys lap in a crowded car!


Your statement brought on a flood of memories…
My Dad was much the same.


They were allowed to sit in a car full of boys? :astonished: It’s Philly . . . walk. ride a bike or take a bus. Phone a dad if all else fails :sweat_smile:

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For Red Jim, another story for ya…