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Sacred Heart fish fry has fed locals for more than 20 years

- Marcy Rizzardi is in charge of the baked fish at Sacred Heart.
Marcy Rizzardi is in charge of the baked fish at Sacred Heart.
PHOTOS: John Howard | The Jeannette Spirit - Andrea Japalucci and Joe McKissock wash dishes behind the scenes at Sacred Heart.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>PHOTOS: John Howard | The Jeannette Spirit</em></div>Andrea Japalucci and Joe McKissock wash dishes behind the scenes at Sacred Heart.
- Bill Bedont makes a batch of fried fish as Carl Shifko cooks some fries.
Bill Bedont makes a batch of fried fish as Carl Shifko cooks some fries.

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By Maria Tyger
Wednesday, March 26, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

The annual fish fry at Sacred Heart School in Jeannette has spanned 23 years, beginning in 1991, and continues to flourish through this Lenten season.

Originally organized by Kathy and Ron Dinsmore, it has about 50 to 60 volunteers a week, some as young as 10 and as seasoned as 91.

“It's a family thing,” says Kathy Goodall, facilities manager at Sacred Heart Church. “We have a lot of family members. It wasn't always like that. We also see familiar faces that don't belong to our churches.”

Goodall invites anyone of any faith to attend.

With the assistance of these volunteers, patrons can enjoy a variety of Lenten-approved items without waiting for long.

“We have a nice, manageable evening,” Goodall said.

“People don't have to wait. We used to have lines out the door.”

Even with the school closing in 1995, the event went back to being run by members of the parish council, and Goodall and Mary Jo Brecht have run it since 1998.

In 2003, the cafeteria was made handicapped accessible.

The fry averages 250 eat-in dinners and 100 take-out dinners each week in a three-hour time period.

In addition to the food choices offered at the fry, there is an Easter craft raffle every week, with hand-crafted items donated by parishioners and non-parishioners alike.

Tickets are three for $1.

The raffle started with a wooden bunny and cart filled with candy that was made every year by Ray Wtorkowski until his death in 2007, and now averages 25-30 craft items a year.

A 50/50 drawing is held each Friday night at the price of three for $1.

This year, Sacred Heart anniversary T-shirts are available for purchase, as well as Cat's Meow replicas of the Sacred Heart School building for $20 and Sacred Heart candles for $10.

As always, volunteers are encouraged to join.

Kids as young as fourth-graders, under the supervision of their parents, can assist serving the dessert to patrons in the cafeteria, and in sixth grade, they can serve dinners. Others are needed to assist in serving coffee and assisting with clean up.

The menu for this year includes baked and fried fish, shrimp or crab cakes with fries or pierogies for $7.50 and baked or fried fish sandwiches for $5.50.

A la carte items include six-piece shrimp or two crab cakes for $5.50, fries for $2, or $2.50 with cheese, three pierogies for $2 and coleslaw or applesauce for $1.

Meatless pizza is $7 for a whole pizza or $1 a slice.

Pop and bottled water are available and a variety of desserts are available for $1 each.

The fish fry is held Fridays through Lent from 4-7 p.m. in the cafeteria at Sacred Heart on North Seventh Street. The fry is open Good Friday.

Call 724-527-9940 for take-out orders beginning at 2 p.m. Fridays and meals are available for pickup after 4.

Maria Tyger is a contributing writer.

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