Cajun-style Lenten meal

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Pierogis, fish fry, pizza and soup have long been staples of Lenten Friday meals at local churches. The dinners help raise money for parishes and Knights of Columbus councils.

Knights of Columbus Council No. 12791 at Our Lady of Hope Church in Potomac Falls had an idea for something different. One of the Knights, David Tilton, has New Orleans roots and said that his family has always enjoyed cooking Cajun dinners. With the help of his father, Lee, from Maryland, the council ordered crawfish from New Orleans and along with plenty of shrimp, fish sticks, coleslaw, red beans and rice and corn on the cob set their inaugural Cajun Night for March 20.

The winter that wouldn't end had another last gasp that day as snow closed Loudoun County schools along with Our Lady of Hope School. But people have to eat, and as the Knights boiled shrimp in large steaming pots near the entrance of the parish center, a slow trickle of customers grew until a steady stream of people waited in line to scoop up the Cajun delights.

Lee Tilton, the outside chef, supervised the handling of the crawfish and shrimp with help from Knights Gary Vecchio and Joe Hunter.

David Tilton was in the kitchen, cooking and tasting the red beans and rice with help from Knights Dennis Riley, Dennis Rotherman and Dan Whalen.

Their work did not go unappreciated.

While one young man said, "It tastes like brains," as he bit into a crawfish head, the consensus of others at the feast was positive for the alternative Lenten fare.

Lisa Orosa said, "It's pretty good."

The Chung family, father John, wife Yvette and son Michael, wearing plastic hats, enjoyed the shrimp and crawfish.

Knight Mike Foley said it was all tasty, but had another reason to like the food.

"It all goes to KOVAR," he said, referring to the Virginia Knights of Columbus charity that raises funds to assist people with intellectual disabilities.

Grand Knight Clyde Slick said that about 200 people enjoyed the Cajun food, while about 16 Knights helped out to assure a successful event.

The quantity of food was impressive including 75 pounds of shrimp, 90 pounds of crawfish, 50 pounds of potatoes, 10 pounds of garlic, 20 pounds of uncooked rice, 100 ears of corn and 10 gallons of red beans.

As Father William P. Saunders, pastor, waited in line for food, he mused about the event, and similar parish outreach ministries.

"It's a good way to build a parish community," he said.

When the kitchen closed and the last customers were full, Stations of the Cross began in the church, a reminder of the holy season of Lent.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015