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Lenten Soup Suppers are tradition at Catholic church

March 13, 2012|By MARIE GILBERT |
  • Vegetable soup is served at St. Ann Catholic Church as part of a Friday night Lenten Soup Supper. Meals also include macaroni and cheese, bread and a beverage.
By Colleen McGrath/Staff Photographer

For billions of Christians around the world, Lent and meatless meals go hand in hand.

But if you're not exactly hooked on fish, there is an alternative.

Give it up for soup.

At St. Ann Catholic Church in the north end of Hagerstown, Lenten Soup Suppers have become a Friday night tradition.

They not only provide people with an opportunity to observe their meat-free Fridays, they also bolster a sense of community, said Susan Seiler.

A former coordinator of the weekly meals, Seiler said the tradition began more than a decade ago as an evening of fellowship, as well as an outreach project to raise money for area shelters.

Today, she said, proceeds benefit local food banks.

Seiler said attendance ebbs and flows from year to year.

"When the suppers first started, the place would be packed," she said. "There were long lines and you knew you had to get there early to get a seat."

Held in the Parish Center, Seiler said the suppers continue to draw appreciative patrons who are looking for a hearty Lenten meal.

"As a working mother, I know that I'm glad to find a place where I don't have to come up with my own Friday night meal," Seiler said. "Plus, I know that I'm helping someone else."

Seiler said all of the homemade soups are prepared by church volunteers.

"Each week, a different group is assigned to prepare the meals and do the cleanup," she said. "One week, it might be the Eucharistic ministers, another week the church council or choir. We even have the youth groups involved — which is a wonderful way for them to learn about service to the community."

Seiler said two varieties of soups are offered at each meal and differ from week to week.

"We've had potato and cheese, three-bean, vegetable, even a vegetarian chili," she said.

In addition to homemade soup, the meal also includes macaroni and cheese, bread and a beverage.

Seiler said there is no cost for the meal, but donations are accepted, which benefit local food banks.

The meals will continue every Friday through March 30.

Seiler said the Lenten Soup Suppers begin at 6:30 p.m. and follow mass which begins at 6 p.m. in St. Ann's chapel.

While the suppers attract new faces every year, Seiler said there are many families who have been attending for years, including her own.

"I can remember taking my daughter and putting her in a booster chair," she recalled. "Now, she's in high school."

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