Update, April 5: Introducing the Ultimate Pittsburgh Fish Fry champions
Update, March 29: Vote for the winner of the Ultimate Pittsburgh Fish Fry bracket
Update, 10 a.m. March 27: Voting in this round has closed.
Updated 10:23 a.m.
Preparation starts early in the week for Friday’s fish fry, the largest fundraiser of the year for each church in our Ultimate Pittsburgh Fish Fry Final Four.
Yes, that’s right. Four churches rose to the top. Early on, it was clear that churches would dominate when they represented 14 spots in the Sweet Sixteen. This week, in one of the tightest races we’ve seen, Corpus Christi Parish edged out the last-standing organization that wasn’t a church, Swissvale Volunteer Fire Department.
So now, we’re taking a look at the fish fry fundraising by the all-ages, all-volunteer crews at each church that made the Final Four.
Corpus Christi Parish
803 Market St. (McKeesport)
10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Corpus Christi Parish donates 10 percent of its net profit to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.
“It’s something we’ve done since day one,” said Rich Keller, fish fry chairman.
Keller said the remaining profit goes to the church general fund for a parish that was once seven different churches.
When the churches combined into one parish six years ago, the fish fry started, Keller said, adding that it was — and still is — a way for parishioners to get together and to meet each other through volunteering. Roughly 30 to 40 volunteers are needed each week, he said.
Holy Angels Parish
408 Baldwin Road (Hays)
11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Holy Angels Parish donates its profits to Catholic school education for the diocese, said Cindy Depretis, who organizes the fish fry. She said the diocese then decides where the money is needed.
The fish fry has about 150 volunteers who show up throughout Lent to help with everything from prep days to the day of the fish fry, she said. And while most are members of the parish, some aren’t.
“It brings the community together,” Depretis said, adding that it’s a lot of work to hand bread fish each week.
201 Church Road (Wexford)
4:30 to 7:30 p.m.
At St. Alphonsus, the fish fry is the largest fundraiser for the parish and the school, said Audrey Dunn, who coordinates fish fry volunteers. She said the funds are split between the church and the school.
But it takes a lot of manpower — 1,375 volunteer shifts, to be exact.
Other fundraisers are typically one night, but this has the most volunteers that come back week after week to help put it together, Dunn said. This year, she said St. Alphonsus’ fish fry is expanding by having members of the men’s fellowship group deliver meals to homebound parishioners March 31.
St. Joan of Arc Church
6470 Library Road (South Park)
11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
St. Joan of Arc Church uses funds from the fish fry for the the general fund and and ministries. It’s the church’s biggest fundraiser, and outside of Lent, the church has a fish fry on the first Friday of the month except in June to August, said fish fry organizer Mona Musser.
There are about 150 fish fry volunteers who start as early as Tuesday with shopping and preparations. And it’s all ages, up to 86, she said.
“It’s a wonderful group. They consider themselves family,” Musser said.
Tell us: Who should make the Top Two?
The race between the Elite Eight for a spot in the Final Four was the most voted on round so far — and saw the tightest races ever.
In the East, Corpus Christi topped Swissvale VFD by a mere 21 votes, though thousands had voted, and St. Joan of Arc edged out Saints Simon and Jude Parish in the Southwest by an even smaller margin: nine votes.
The other two races had clear winners. The North’s St. Alphonsus beat Church of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary with 79 percent of the vote. That’s the second week in a row that St. Alphonsus has had more than 75 percent of the vote, and the highest percentage across the bracket.
In the City, Holy Angels Parish beat Sacred Heart Elementary School with 71 percent of the vote.
All proof that your vote matters.
So now it’s time to decide who’s going to the Top Two. Which two churches get the chance to duke it out for fish fry bragging rights and a trophy?
Cast your vote (see what we did there?), and tell your friends to vote, too. You have until 10 a.m. Monday, March 27 to weigh in. The Incline staff will be making stops at the Final Four this Friday to let you do some in-person voting. Results will be announced March 29. You can also vote here.
A previous version of this article incorrectly listed the address of the Corpus Christi fish fry.