Josephine Nichols joked that she has been in charge of her church’s Lenten fish fry for so long now that she could retire. She’s been running the operation for the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Sykesville for 25 years.
At this point, she doesn’t flinch at the thought of leading a team of more than 30 volunteers or feeding hundreds of people each Friday during the religious event.
“All we ever worry about is the weather,” Nichols said. “That’s our main concern, and of course sometimes you have people that call in and they’re sick.”
For many, Lent is a time of prayer and fasting. But with the start of the religious season last week on Ash Wednesday, churches are also gearing up for another tradition: frying up fish.
Janet Pretti said she and other volunteers first organized a fish fry at St. Joseph’s Church in Force thinking it would be a good fundraiser. 19 years later, Pretty said she and many of those same people are still volunteering today.
That expertise comes in handy when feeding so many mouths. Pretti said anywhere from 450-500 people stop by her church every Friday during Lent.
Nichols said her church sees about 350-450.
“Even when we have a snow storm, our lowest number was never lower than 250,” Nichols said.
Feeding the masses means volunteers start prepping on Thursdays, peeling about 200 potatoes and starting work on various side dishes: coleslaw, soup and, of course, french fries.
And by next week, they’re at it again.
“I hope everybody comes out,” Nichols said. “You won’t get a better meal for the money.”