DERRY — They have fish to fry — and plenty of it.
Lent has begun and the Knights of Columbus Council 3023 of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish are once again hosting fish fry dinners.
The lines were long last week for opening night of the popular dinner. The meals join not only Catholics who are honoring the holy season by giving up meat on Fridays, but many who just stopped by to support the Knights and enjoy a fish dinner.
The fish dinners are held every Friday from 5 to 7 p.m. at the St. Thomas Aquinas Center, behind St. Thomas Church off Crystal Avenue.
This is the fourth year for the fish fry, one of the Knights’ biggest fundraisers of the year. The money raised from the dinners supports the group’s many charities.
“Every piece of fish is a full one-half pound,” Grand Knight John Berner announced as he and other Knights worked the breading station.
Mounds of white haddock were passed from the kitchen through a window to those doing the breading, then sent back in for deep frying to a crispy golden brown.
Berner said about 24 volunteers were helping out on the first night of the dinner and the crowd was big — and hungry.
“This is a perfect piece of fish,” Knights’ member Joe Falbo called out as he prepared a take-out order.
The Knights have had a local presence since 1947. The group’s many causes include support for the local soup kitchen and food pantry, Special Olympics and several other community activities. There are currently about 238 members. The Knights also support St. Thomas School Catholic education, scholarships and global causes.
“All the money we make goes back out to charity,” Berner said.
Some fish dinner proceeds may also go to support St. Thomas’ ongoing restoration project to get the church ready for its 100th anniversary in 2017.
St. Thomas parishioner Ron Tveter said he would attend the fish meal every Friday.
Kim Berner said it was a great way to honor the season and see friends.
“We get to eat out on Friday, no cooking,” she said.
St. Thomas-sponsored Brownie and Junior Girl Scout troops were selling homemade baked goods in the dining room. But the Scouts found time to enjoy the fish dinners.
“I had a whole adult haddock,” Jackie Dubrey, 8 announced. “It was really good.”
Younger diners do have a choice of fish sticks if they prefer.
Pat Dowling attends St. Thomas Aquinas Church and said the fish meals are always a successful venture for the Knights of Columbus during Lent.
“And you miss it when Lent is over,” she said. “You still want to come.”
The weekly dinners are affordable and all are welcome. Admission is $8.50 for adults, $3.50 for children.
The menu includes fried white fish filet, fries, coleslaw, tartar sauce and a roll. Dinners run through March 22.