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West Deer parishes dive into fish fry together

Members of Transfiguration parish in West Deer were thrilled last month when work was completed on a worship site to replace their 90-year-old church building destroyed by fire in June 2006.

But turning the old school gym into a sanctuary created a dilemma: where to hold the annual fish fry.

"We always cooked in the kitchen next to the gym, but we were worried about making our beautiful new church smell like fish," said Andretta Kobik, who helped start the church's annual Lenten fish fry in 1990.

"So we approached members of St. Victor parish about doing a combined fish fry in their activity center and they liked the idea," said Kobik. "In the past, St. Victor only did their fish fry on Good Friday, which was the only day in Lent that Transfiguration didn't have one."

The combined fish fry, which kicked off on Ash Wednesday, will be conducted each Friday during Lent -- including Good Friday -- with the parishes splitting the profits.

"Since the fire at Transfiguration, the two parishes have been looking for ways to collaborate," said the Rev. Robert Coyne, pastor of St. Victor. "This is a perfect example of the kind of things we can do together to benefit everybody."

Coyne and his counterpart at Transfiguration, the Rev. John Vojtek, say the money raised is far less important than the chance to strengthen the relationships between members of the two parishes.

"Lenten fish fries have become community events where people can gather with their families and friends," Vojtek said. "I think this will be a great opportunity for all of us to meet new acquaintances."

Kobik said an Italian-style fish sandwich known as the "Codfather," as well as seafood gumbo, soft shell crabs and other specialties made from recipes used when her family owned a popular seafood restaurant in New Kensington, will be on the menu.

"St. Victor does a nice shrimp basket as well as pierogies and huluski," Kobik said. "So I think people are going to have a hard time deciding what to order with so many great things on the combined menu we have."

St. Victor parishioner Bill Yanicko, who helped set up the combined fish fry, sees it as a chance for fellowship.

"West Deer is a very large community, so there are a lot of people who really don't know the folks on the other side of town," he said. "Hopefully this will be a great way to bring us closer together."

Additional Information:

Community Fish Fry

Where: St. Victor Church Activity Hall, 527 Bairdford Road, West Deer

When: Kitchen open: 3 to 7 p.m. Fridays during Lent, including Good Friday

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