By Paul McMullen
MIDDLE RIVER – Is it the food, the fellowship or the faith?
The answer is D, all of the above, to the question of how the Knights of Columbus at Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish needed just three years to turn their Lenten Friday fish fry into an event that has the feel of a decades-old tradition.
Pope John Paul the Great Council 13859 in Middle River is accustomed to quick acceleration. Chartered in 2005 with 35 members, it now numbers 108.
The Knights began the fish fry in 2011 at the suggestion of Tim McCubbin, one of their trustees. Michael Kahl, the only treasurer the council has ever known, is among the men who make the fish fry go. Every Friday in Lent, he burns a half-day of vacation to do prep work, but his efforts begin before then.
Every Monday, Kahl calls S. DiPaula and Sons, a seafood wholesaler in Rosedale, to order that week’s Alaska pollock, flown in fresh, not frozen. Codfish cakes are prepared by Bill’s Seafood in Perry Hall, one of Baltimore’s landmark crab houses.
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Diners can also select fried shrimp, or combine two of the three entrée selections. Throw in French fries, pasta salad or cole slaw, dessert and drinks, and the dinner is a bargain at $10 for adults, $6 for children under 10. There is no charge for kids under 4.
“We come every Friday in Lent,” said Pam Ludwig, as she dined in the Queen of Peace parish hall Feb. 22 with her husband, Jim. “The quality fare is what brought us here in the first place.”
Married 32 years, the Ludwigs are parishioners of St. Clare, Essex, and were active Scout parents with Troop 355 at nearby Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish.
From pubs on Eastern Avenue to the Costco food court on Pulaski Highway, there are plenty of other inexpensive dining options on the east side of Baltimore County.
“Yes,” Pam said, “but you don’t get the same food and camaraderie. What’s the old TV show, where everybody knows your name?”
Tom O’Hara, the council’s grand knight at its inception, answered “Cheers,” then added, “The best part is, we have a Norm.”
Yes, Norm Hildenberg was among the Knights in the kitchen serving a steady stream of some 80 diners, one that included Father Kevin Mueller, the pastor of Our Lady, Queen of Peace.
Paula Clemens, working a table selling raffle tickets for a pregnancy center benefit, noted that most of the women in the hall, like her, are members of the parish Sodality. Most are married to Knights, and nobody seems in a hurry.
Early-birds take advantage of doors opening at 4:30 p.m. A few minutes before 7 p.m., most make the short walk down the hall to the church, for Stations of the Cross.
“The parish always had Stations,” Kahl said, “but now folks come early, eat dinner, sit and talk before moseying over to church.”
Funding for the new sound system in the church included a donation from the Knights. They also helped with the new air conditioning unit, and have assisted or shouldered other physical improvements, from the grotto to the sidewalks.
The Lenten fish fry at Our Lady, Queen of Peace will continue through Good Friday, March 29.
View our Lenten season page here.
Copyright (c) Feb. 28, 2013 CatholicReview.org