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NEPA Church Makes 15K Pierogies For Lent

March 11, 2019
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NEPA Church Makes 15K Pierogies For Lent

MAYFIELD — Using a pierogi recipe passed down through generations, an assembly line of parishioners deftly scooped potato balls in St. John’s Center as they worked to prepare 15,000 pierogies for Lent. The parishioners of St. John’s Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Mayfield produced about 3,400 balls of filling in around an hour. The following morning, they met to fold dough around the potato balls to make their pierogies. “We don’t strive for 15,000,” said the Very Rev. John Sorochka, the church’s mitred archpriest. “We limit ourselves to 15,000.” If the church had more freezer space, they would make even more, he said. The volunteers prepared the pierogies for their annual Ash Wednesday sale. Pierogi sales are a key source of fundraising for the church, whose members produces as many as 100,000 pierogies per year, Sorochka said. Along with “keeping the doors open,” making pierogies gives parishioners a chance to spend time together and help the church, he said. Joyce Walsh of Jermyn, a 10-year parishioner of the church, called the pierogies delicious as she clinked away with an ice cream scoop to shape the potato balls. “I think it brings us all together,” she said. “It’s not like you just go to church and then you leave ... it’s getting together and it’s fun.” Although most associate Ash Wednesday with the start of Lent, Eastern Orthodoxy follows a different calender, Sorochka said. This year, today is the first full day of Lent for Eastern Orthodox churches, with the time of fasting beginning Sunday night after a special service. Lent continues until their Easter on April 28 — one week after most celebrate it. Easter day can vary by weeks between Western and Eastern traditions, Sorochka said, explaining that last year their Easters were five weeks apart. In Western tradition, participants fast on Ash Wednesday and every Friday during Lent. However, in the Eastern tradition, they fast every day. “Fasting deals with repentance,” Sorochka said. “Repentance is a renewal process for us to change our life, make it the way it should be and hope that we don’t again digress.” During the fast, anyone capable of doing so abstains from eating eggs, milk, cheese, meat and fish for the entirety of Lent, the priest said. For five weeks leading to Lent, congregations undergo a pre-fast period that covers psychological lessons through Biblical stories to get parishioners “keyed up” to fast, Sorochka said. Along with fasting, there is increased prayer and special services, Sorochka said, saying attending church more often during Lent gives parishioners “ammunition for us to continue the fast and not to get discouraged.” “It’s actually an emulation or an exultation of our life because this is where we should be all the time, but because of human nature we’re not,” he said. “Lent is not only a time for fasting, but it’s a time for renewal.” Contact the writer: flesnefsky@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9100 x5181; @flesnefskyTT