EAST LANSING, Mich. — Catholic churches are finding a way to bring the community together for the season of Lent under the pandemic. And, for parishioners of St. Thomas Aquinas in East Lansing, a community-favorite Lenten tradition is still rolling.
In the Catholic faith, Lent is a period that spans 40 days to honor the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the desert according to gospel. Many Catholics avoid eating meat on Fridays during Lent. But they can still eat fish.
At St. Thomas Aquinas, the church community can now enjoy a weekly fish fry drive thru from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. every Friday right in the parking lot during Lent.
“We have a lot of traditions and one of them is, if we’re not going to eat meat on Fridays, it’s nice to have a community meal and we’d usually be in the gym having one giant Friday night family dinner together. But, if we’re not able to do that we’re grateful that everyone is taking advantage of the drive-thru. We can still provide the same meals, fund our charities through the Knights of Columbus and still have a sense of community spirit at the same time,” said the Rev. Gordon Riegle, pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish.
Parishioners were grateful for the opportunity to still come together as they drove through the lot.
“Even though it’s a drive thru, it still feels like we’re one big community,” Christina Heidemann said.
The church offers a choice of grilled or fried fish dinner served with side dishes for $12 per plate. The money from fish fry sales goes to Knights of Columbus charities.
For Riegle, seeing the community come together - safely - is the best way to celebrate the holiday.
“The season of Lent is the time that we kind of slow down and declutter our lives. Even the foods we give up, the little things we do, it’s meant to make more room to connect with god and one another. So, i hope we’re even more grateful in the end for the time we get to spend together,” Riegle said.
You can catch the community of St. Thomas Aquinas dishing out their weekly fish dinner every Friday until Mar. 26.