AOL Knights’ fish Fry continues; Sense of community used as rock to build church that began in 1979

Published 12:15 am Wednesday, February 14, 2018

LAPLACE — Since its inception in 1979, Ascension of Our Lord Church in LaPlace has promoted fellowship and friendship while uniting families together for the common good of the community.

The annual Lenten Fish Fry hosted by the Ascension of Our Lord Knights of Columbus Council 9623 supports the Rev. Benjamin Piovan Scholarship Program and extends two scholarships to St. Charles Catholic seniors.

Ascension of Our Lord Catholic Church is located 1900 Greenwood Drive in LaPlace.

Plates containing two fillets of fried or grilled fish, boiled corn and potatoes will be sold for $8 between 10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. today and every Friday through March 23 under the tent at AOL School, located at 1809 Greenwood Drive.

Children’s plates containing one large piece of fried or grilled fish, corn and potatoes will be sold for $6.

Only cash and checks are being accepted at this time.

Council 9623 membership chairman and fundraising co-chairman Larry Larousse said the fish fry has been a springtime staple for about as long as Ascension of Our Lord Church has been around.

Larousse has been a member of the AOL Parish since its start, and he’s seen the congregation and school grow steadily in the four decades since.

Ascension of Our Lord Church has a long history founded upon dedicated members, including Mary Anne Frederick, Gwen Dupuy and Michael Layton.

Gwen Dupuy and Mary Anne Frederick recall watching the current church building come up from the ground in 2001.

The milestone was the product of many years of hard but happy work, according to Frederick.

The first Mass was held on July 2, 1979, in the St. Charles Catholic High School music room. For the next two years and 10 months, the ladies and men of the church would set up for Mass each Saturday, preparing the room for 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. evening Masses and three Sunday morning Masses.

“If we had a nickel for every table and chair we picked up, every floor that we mopped…” Frederick trailed off with a laugh.

She said the congregation truly enjoyed the work, and there were never any issues finding volunteers for Mass or other church-sponsored events.

“Everyone couldn’t wait for the next event,” Frederick said. “You were working, but it was a party. I had never had that Catholic-church experience before where it was across your entire life. It was your social life. We all raised our children together and made lifelong friendships.”

Dupuy said everyone was eager to help in the early years because there was always a goal to work toward.

Ascension of Our Lord existed for years without a building to call its own, moving from St. Charles Catholic to the Don Bosco Hall in 1982 and a temporary church in 1989.

Meanwhile, Ascension of Our Lord School grew from two portable classrooms located across from LaPlace Elementary to its current location, large enough to serve students in pre-K through seventh grade.

Leadership from the Rev. Benjamin Piovan united the AOL community, according to Frederick and Dupuy.

Frederick described Fr. Benny as a sociable person who taught the congregation to never take anything for granted.

Michael Layton attends Mass at AOL six times a week and is becoming more involved with the church’s Knights of Columbus Council.

He remembers Fr. Benny as a great manager able to efficiently delegate responsibilities to church members prior to his retirement in 2006.

Dupuy said the AOL community is still strong, but she misses the closeness and excitement of the early days.

“I don’t find it’s as close as it was when Benny was there,” Dupuy said. “It’s lost a lot of that togetherness. Everybody wanted to do things to help.”

Parishioners have remained busy since expanding the church and the school, with Knights of Columbus members providing natural disaster relief near and far.

AOL has established a Spanish ministry and a children’s recreation program to reach more in the community in addition to conducting a number of service ministries and religious devotions.

Frederick said many were influential to AOL’s roots and subsequent success. Longtime supporters include but are not limited to Deacon Dave Farinelli, Mike Abbate, the Larousse family and Claire Lowry.