Feast For All

St. John Church at the Holy Apostles Parish is set to offer area residents food and fellowship at several events held throughout March and April.

Beginning on Friday, St. John Church will host the first in a series of Lenten Fish Fry Fridays at the Father Billerio Hall. The event will run from 4:30-7 p.m. every Friday through Lent, with the exception of Good Friday. The celebration will feature a choice of beer battered or broiled fish, shrimp, salad, potato salad, french fries, coleslaw or apple sauce. Dinners are $9 for adults and $7 for children. Vegetable lasagna will also be available for $8.

The church will also host its annual St. Joseph Table spaghetti dinner with traditional homemade Italian bread, cannoli and cookies on Sunday from noon-4:30 p.m. at the Father Billerio Hall. The price of admission is $7 for adults, and $5 for children.

According to Father Dennis Mende, the custom of the St. Joseph’s Table began many years ago in Sicily, and the concept was adapted to an event for St. John Church.

“There had been a famine, lack of rain and prolonged drought,” Mende said. “So, people in Sicily prayed for the intercession of St. Joseph that the drought would end and people would be able to have their crops to feed themselves. Lo and behold, the prayers were answered, and in gratitude of the intercessions of St. Joseph, people began holding a table each year. The table was one to which everyone in the community was invited, most especially those who were poor and didn’t have adequate food. This custom has continued right through today in the United States and wherever else immigrants of Sicily and Southern Italy settled.”

The Lenten Fish Fry Fridays were started with a similar goal in mind, which was fostering community during the season of Lent.

“Customarily we refrain from eating meat on the Fridays of Lent,” Mende said. “So, the event is held to bring the parishioners together, but it is also extended out to the community. As a matter of fact, we have more people from the general community coming to our fish fry than we do parishioners. We hope people find community, fellowship and get to know people they may not have known.”

The funds raised during the events are utilized to maintain the church, help those from the community in need and to donate to charity. Last year, the funds raised were utilized to purchase and install a statue of St. John in the sanctuary. The church was built in 1961, but there has never been a statue of St. John at the church.

According to Mary Ferraro, chairwoman of volunteers and cookies, the menu during the spaghetti dinner and Lenten Fish Fry Fridays are fantastic, which means the dinners always sell out.

“The fish is out of this world – I mean it,” Ferraro said. “People go crazy for it, and in fact they want us to stay open all year. But, we just can’t do it. We’d appreciate it if people would patronize our church for the spaghetti dinner and the Lenten Fish Fry Fridays.”

More than 2,000 cookies were made fresh for St. Joseph Table spaghetti dinner. The cookies were made by more than a dozen area women who volunteered their time in support of the event and the church.

“I have a lot of nice women working to help make the cookies and the bread,” Ferraro said. “I hope people come out to celebrate Lent because it has been too cold this winter, and we’d all like to enjoy some nice weather together.”

Chairmen for both the spaghetti dinner and the Lenten Fish Fry Fridays are Mike Palermo and Dave Spitzer.

St. John Church is located at 270 Newton Ave. in Jamestown. For more information, or to place a takeout order, call 484-8554.