The article below was written by Deacon Diana Leiker, who is currently serving St. James’, Batavia.
As a new deacon assigned to St. James’ parish in Batavia, I feel the need to toot a horn about the wonderful fish fries that I experienced this past Lenten season. I have never had the privilege of working with a twenty- three year old, “well oiled machine” like the St. James fish fry group, as it steamed along week after week. Wayne Judkins, aka “The Godfather,” is the man behind the wheel and the keeper of the expertise, engaging at least a dozen volunteers in the kitchen preparing food and cooking from morning till night on Fridays. There were always at least twice that many volunteers in the dining area and behind the scenes, serving, delivering, running, handling drinks, and cleaning up. There were students from two local high schools as well as Genesee Community College that spent hours volunteering. Members of St. Mark’s Leroy also had fun serving in the dining area as they helped out their deanery neighbors.
Hungry people arrived an hour early so they would not miss out on the phenomenal homemade desserts that are made fresh every week by a team of very special bakers. They made a variety of mouthwatering delights that included: rice pudding, grape pie, strawberry rhubarb pie, carrot cake, peanut butter pie, chocolate cake and cheese cakes. Each week had its surprises.
This year, there were 2,073 fish dinners, and 80 mac and cheese sold, which translated into 1,275 pounds of fish. The dinners were an enormous amount of work, especially for the core group involved in ordering, kitchen prep and cooking, and yet I witnessed a display of camaraderie that only comes from serving others with love.
They all had so much energy and enthusiasm for the tasks at hand.
Something that really touched my deacon’s heart was the money collected for charity. Every year, St. James’ selects six agencies or groups in Batavia to be recipients of donations collected at the fish fries. The names were publicized so people knew where the money was donated each week. A “tip jar” was put on the checkout table for the donations and patrons were always very generous. This year, with the publicity and selection directed by Theresa DeMars, the following organizations were honored with a total of $1, 380.00 in tips: All Babies Cherished, Books to the Rescue, Eagle Star Housing, LeRoy Backpack Program, Mercy Flight, and Volunteers for Animals. The generous giving is possible because of the church family and also the many community members who come to the dinners during Lent. They are owed a big thank you. I am definitely looking forward to next year.