This year, Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent fell on Feb. 14. Christians worldwide observe the six weeks of Lent as an opportunity for prayer and reflection. They also fast, abstain from eating meat at least once a week and make other special sacrifices.
Like many religious observances, the season of Lent is an opportunity for churches to bring residents together from different backgrounds. Many parishes, like St. Cecilia Parish in St. Louis, Missouri, kick off their Lenten celebrations with an annual fish fry.
Coined the Original Mexican Fish Fry, St. Cecilia’s event has taken place every year since 2008. Years ago, members noticed an increasing divide between the Hispanic and non-Hispanic parishioners, so they decided to use the Lenten season as a way to bring both communities together.
The celebration has grown in size each year. Members of the church have continued to expand their fish fry menu. Currently the menu includes foods such as jack salmon, cod filets, shrimp, chile relleno, bean tostados and fried cheese quesadillas. Their Mexican fish fry has been such a success that other parishes in the city have adopted this tradition.
Heather Sieve, a member of St. Cecilia said, “We wanted something that both communities could do to together.”
The parish invites everyone to the fish fry even if they are not members of the parish. Party-goers can relax at the event while listening to a mariachi band or watch students from the parish-based Mexican dance classes perform.
As Pope Francis states, “Lent is a favorable season for opening the doors to all those in need and recognizing in them the face of Christ.”
CLINIC applauds St. Cecilia and their dedication to integrating their communities over delicious food and celebration.