By Celine Klosterman
MUSCATINE — Fish fries are fundraisers, but Knights of Columbus Council 1305 in Muscatine works to make them about fellowship first.
“When I first came in, we were focused on how to raise money, but Dave (Schinker, grand knight) changed the focus to camaraderie,” said Robert Bolton. Treasurer for the council, he’s been involved with the Knights for seven years. If the Lord approved, the money would come in, the Knights reasoned. So far, said Bolton, it has.
Each Friday during Lent, the dinners bring in about $500 for causes such as Special Olympics and vocation drives, Schinker said Feb. 27 as a line of people snaked end-to-end in the cozy KC hall.
“It’s a great opportunity to see parishioners you might just see in passing at Mass, or who go to different Masses,” said Bolton, a member of Ss. Mary & Mathias Parish in Muscatine. He said he and fellow Knights try to visit with parishioners rather than just serve them supper.
Not that the food is unimportant. Fish has drawn Ralph Fromer to the Lenten dinner annually for at least 15 years, he said while dining on a catfish fillet, coleslaw, a baked potato and macaroni and cheese – an item added last year on request, said Schinker.
It’s nice to have someone else cook, added Fromer’s dinner companion and twin brother, Ray Fromer.
About eight or 10 Knights tend vats of fried fish, collect money from diners, pour coffee, stock a table with cheesecake slices and other desserts and do other tasks each week. Roughly 140 patrons stop by every Friday, though the number often peaks in early Lent, said Bolton. “I’d hate to be in the restaurant business,” he joked, because it can be hard to predict how many people will show up on a certain night.
The Knights use the dinners to support an opportunity for spiritual nourishment, too. Each Friday at 6:15 p.m. they announce Stations of the Cross, which are held at 6:30 p.m. at St. Mary Church.
“It’s good to come here,” said Ralph Fromer.