The event was started by parishioners Bob and Judi Terry. They lived in Pittsburgh, Pa., for many years and attended the Lenten fish dinners hosted by various churches in the area. When they moved to Shrewsbury, they noticed that the Friday Fish Dinners were not as common and decided to bring the tradition to St Mary’s. With the support of Monsignor Michael Rose and a team of volunteers, the first fish dinner was served in 2011. The event was an instant hit and the parish hosted a second dinner that year. Since then, it has been served one Friday during Lent each year. Parishioners really look forward to it and have already started buying their discounted tickets for this year’s event.
“This is a parish and community event during Lent,” Bob said. “It is not a fundraiser but rather meant to be at a cost that everyone can afford in an effort to try and attract as many parishioners and community members as we can hold.”
Thanks to the many sponsors and local businesses, ticket prices have remained the same for the last three years. The fish & chips dinner includes coleslaw, a soft drink, coffee and dessert for $10 (or $8 in advance). Kids’ meals include a choice of pizza or mac & cheese, a soft drink and dessert for $5 (or $4 in advance). Clam chowder, beer and wine are also available for an additional charge.
The event has grown bigger each year. Last year, parish volunteers served over 730 meals in four hours.
“All of the people helping – those that sell tickets, serve the food and cook the fish – are volunteers. It’s an absolutely amazing group of people!” Bob said.
When asked what his favorite part of the event is, Terry replied, “Seeing an incredible group of friends and volunteers coming together to help make this annual event a tradition at St. Mary’s. My entire family is involved as well as many of our friends with their spouses & children involved. It’s a real family event! I hear all of the people who attend compliment the food and the service. They are so appreciative.”