By Tony DeGol
One of the tastiest ways to observe the Lenten season and celebrate community in parishes is the fish lunch or dinner.
This Lent, Bishop Mark has given the go-ahead for parishes to sponsor the meals, but only in the format of take-out service.
There is to be no indoor dining, according to his directives, and anyone who assists in food preparation and serving must be screened by temperature check. All workers must wear masks and gloves and practice physical distancing.
Patrons should not enter the building to place their order or to receive their order, the Bishop added, rather arrangements should be made for this to occur outside.
Parish fish dinners are wildly popular here in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. The gatherings foster fellowship among the volunteers and diners, and they serve as an excellent fundraiser.
Last year, parishes halted fish dinners in the middle of Lent as the pandemic escalated in Pennsylvania. This year, vaccinations are offering hope, but we must be mindful of the continued need for caution, the Bishop reminded.
“Such care and vigilance are at the heart of the holy season of Lent,” he added. “This take-out only format should be responded to in the true spirit of Lent, which is a penitential season – a time of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.”