Sharing fish, sharing faith

Saturday, April 4, 2009

FORT SCOTT, Kan. -- The fish frys sponsored by the Knights of Columbus Council No. 796 have seen an increase in attendance this Lenten season.

According to K. of C. Grand Knight Joe Barr, this year's fish frys have served approximately 3,000 people. Last year's attendance at the events was 1,477 and served one less day due to a winter storm.

"(Attendance has) increased every year," Barr said. "People in the community support us and look forward to it."

He said when the fish frys began about 10 years ago they were serving 50-100 people. He added most of the attendees in the beginning were Catholic and now the non-Catholic attendance is much larger than the Catholic attendance.

"That's exactly what we want, to share fellowship with other faiths," Barr said. "I don't think there is a church in town that isn't represented."

The Knights of Columbus have been hosting the fish frys on Fridays beginning on the first Friday after Ash Wednesday and end on the Friday before Good Friday, totaling six frys. Barr said it takes approximately 30-40 people to put the events on including help from the Saint Ann's Alter Society who provide the desserts.

Barr said the main goal for the fish frys, which are funded by free-will offerings, is to raise money for charity. He said the money goes into a general fund which goes to helping burn victims through the American Red Cross, Tri-Valley Developmental Services, The Beacon, Mother to Mother Ministries and Birthline.

Barr added the charity goes beyond the donations, because the event is a free-will donation rather than a set price, more families experiencing tough economic situations can participate.

"If we are helping each family or each person by taking a little bit less money out of their pocket, then that comes under charity which is our number one goal," Barr said.

This year. the organization hosted a food drive for The Beacon in conjunction with the fish frys. Also, the Boy Scouts and the Catholic youth organization held bake sales to help raise money.

The event also hosted a 50/50 drawing which is expected to exceed $1,000. Last year's 50/50 drawing was won by Kansas Senator Bob Marshall, who donated his $857 winnings back to the Knights of Columbus.

Barr said the fish frys have become a social gathering place for some people. He said there is a lot of fellowship between people who do not get to see each other often.

"They don't come and eat and run out the door," Barr said. "You get to see a lot of people and that is a real positive thing."

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