2017-03-02 / Front Page

Ashes signal start to Lent; put down the paczki

Season of sacrifice
By Amy Hubbell
Of The Enterprise staff

Christians all over the world — including county churches — received ashes yesterday, marking the beginning of a 40-day period of fasting and penitence in preparation for Easter.

Ash Wednesday also provides a cue to county residents, regardless of faith who turn out in droves for Lenten fish frys at Holy Rosary Church.

“Lent is a prime time to give back to God,” Holy Rosary pastor Donald Libby said. “It’s a grace-filled time when we join together to go through trials and learn what it means to follow God.”

It’s a busy time for local churches. For instance, Leland Immanuel Lutheran Church placed an ad this week showing nine services and gatherings, including five midweek services.

During the season of fasting, prayer and alms, Christians often “give up” something they enjoy, such as candy or soda, and give to the poor the money that would have been spent on these items.

They also abstain from meat on Fridays.

“There are people who say ‘I love fish, it’s not a sacrifice.’ But it’s a sign of obedience,” Libby explained.

Whether a sacrifice or not, people turn out in droves for Holy Rosary’s fish dinners, which have been going on for more than 20 years.

“We’ll have from 375 to 600 people, depending on the weather,” said Craig Therrien, parish council chairman and a fixture on the serving line. “We serve between 400 and 550 pounds of fish each week.”

A group of 30 to 45 people works on the dinners which begin Friday and will repeat on March 17 and 31.

For many years, the site of fish fries alternated weekly during Lent between Holy Rosary and Lake Leelanau St. Mary. However, St. Mary has discontinued the tradition.

Has the void impacted the number of meals served at Holy Rosary?

“We thought it would, but it really hasn’t,” Therrien said. “We see the same people every year — some that come to the first and others who come to the last.”

Preparations for the dinners come well before the first meal is served.

The work includes securing a required food service license from the Benzie-Leelanau County Health Department and, of course, ordering enough food to feed the community.

“We had some deliveries today so we’ll go in tonight to unpack and get the fish out of the package and into the cooler to thaw,” Therrien said Monday. “It takes a few days.”

The all-you-can-eat menu includes deep-fried cod, baked cod and lemonpeppered, scalloped potatoes, cole slaw, macaroni and cheese, dinner roll, dessert, coffee and juice.

Meals are served from 4 to 7:30 p.m. in the lower level of the church. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors age 60 and older, $6 for children 10 and under, and no charge for preschoolers. A family rate of $40 is available for parents and all children.

Take-outs dinners are also available.

The day before the beginning of Lent was all about the packzi.

Traditionally Fat Tuesday was the last chance to consume all the products — eggs, lard, sugar and jam — that might be given up during Lent.

“Not only is it an opportunity to use these items up, it helps to remove the temptation,” Libby said. “It’s a great tradition.”

At Chimoski Bakery in Suttons Bay the fat-laden treat has been a Fat Tuesday staple since she started making the Polish treat in 2012, with an old family recipe.

The first year she cooked up 40 dozen paczki. On Tuesday she and her staff, including her partner Victor Chimoski, produced 145 dozen. About 25 percent of those filled pre-orders. The rest were sold to those who start coming into the bakery at 6 a.m., when its doors open.

By 9 a.m., packzi had people lined up.

Julie Walter of Leland was picking up a half dozen paczki that she and her husband planned to eat.

“Normally we go skiing on Fat Tuesday and get them on our way to Nub’s Nob,” Walter said. “But look at the weather, it’s raining.”

Bill Drozdalski of Suttons Bay wouldn’t miss the pre-Lenten treat. His mom made paczki when he was growing up, he said, and Chimoski’s recipe represents the real deal.

“They’re just like my mom’s,” Drozdalski said.

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