The season of Lent ends for many Christians this week. Lent is the 40 days leading up to Easter. For Catholics, Lent means abstaining from many things, including meat on Fridays.
In northern Michigan, some local churches host fish fries on Fridays.
Immaculate Conception Parish has held fish fries in Traverse City for nearly three decades. On a Friday night in March, people are waiting for the doors of the church hall to open. When the doors do, a savory aroma from the kitchen greets the line of people.
Larry Endres has helped with the church’s fish fry since the start 29 years ago.
"I work in the kitchen, preparing all the foods and bringing it out on the line," Larry says. "The whole thing is a lot of fun for everybody – a good group of guys to work with."
Larry is a Traverse City native who attended St. Francis High School and is a military veteran.
He worked for the county road commission for 35 years. When he retired, he soon missed working with others. He found the men's club at Immaculate Conception met that need.
At the fish fries, the men’s club prepares and serves cod, fries, desserts and vegetables for nearly 1000 people every season. The proceeds from the dinner donation of $10 help meet a variety of needs for the church and school.
The men's club has few young members.
Larry Endres says they will need some young people to continue the traditional meal.
"This is what I would call the old men's club," says Larry. "We may have a couple of fifty year olds, but most of them are 70, late 60s, 80. We have two in the 90s but they are retired ... But it's open to anybody 18 years old or older."
The men's club fish fries have been a community builder within the parish. Larry says it strengthens the bond of the senior members.
"Camaraderie ... we are just like brothers," says Larry. "We are a tight-knit group ... I just enjoy being with them. We all get along. We love helping the parish. Whenever they need help, we are always there to help.
After finishing their meals, many enjoy conversations with friends and family.