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Catholic Churches anticipate the effects of canceled fish fries

Posted at 1:30 AM, Mar 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-14 02:30:14-04

OMAHA, NE (KMTV) — The Archdiocese of Omaha requests all fish fries throughout the Archdiocese be canceled until further notice.

The request comes after the Douglas County Health Department expressed concerns about the spread of coronavirus at parish fish fries.

The Lenten season tradition is also a big fundraiser. Without people packing into church basements, enjoying a meal with hundreds of their closest friends, church organizations cannot raise the money they anticipated.

“I was very concerned about having an enclosed environment where things could very easily spread,” said Downey Fitzgerald, Vice President, Holy Name Men’s Club. “When you're dealing with passing ketchup bottles, passing salt shakers, it was a very big concern of mine.”

Every week Holy Name Men’s Club raises tens of thousands of dollars that they donate to scholarships, sports uniforms, and recently a garden outside of the church. They’ve been able to hold three of their seven scheduled fish fries.

“We will take a hit financially but it’s not devastating,” Fitzgerald said. “We will still be in the black at the end of the year.”

St. Wencenslaus Knights of Columbus are worried about the same thing.

“It’s a big part of what we give away in forms of donations,” said Rod Hofschulte, Knights of Columbus Regional Growth Director Omaha. “Central Pregnancy Services, Special Olympics, the Bethlehem House, Least of my Brethren, Stephens House. All of those get money that we make so if we don't make it, we can't give it.”

They're taking it week by week and will follow the recommendations of the Archdiocese to try to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

“It’s going to be very tough,” Hofschulte said. “I know most of them have canceled this Friday. We're not sure we're going to have any more going on until the end of Lent. It's going to be very significant.”

They're considering rescheduling fish fries later this spring or summer after the coronavirus dies down.