Priest must give OK to put meat on menu

Catholics must ask for the green light to eat meat on Friday.
YOUNGSTOWN -- If Catholics in the Diocese of Youngstown want to eat corned beef or Irish stew on Friday, St. Patrick's Day, they can ask their parish priests for a dispensation from abstinence. And maybe Irish eyes will smile on them.
Nancy Yuhasz, chancellor of the diocese, said Monsignor Robert J. Siffrin, diocese administrator, did not issue an overall dispensation from abstinence for St. Patrick's Day. Yuhasz said Monsignor Siffrin left it up to the individual parish priest. On Fridays during Lent, Catholics age 15 and older are required to abstain from eating meat.
Catholics who wish to partake of traditional Irish dishes with meat must first get the green light from their parish priest. "Pastors have the authority to grant dispensation," Yuhasz said.
Since St. Patrick's Day is a day away, it would have to be a verbal dispensation from abstinence; usually it is done in writing, Yuhasz said.
The diocese covers Mahoning, Trumbull, Columbiana, Ashtabula and Stark counties.
Other dioceses
The Most Rev. Anthony M. Pilla, bishop of the Diocese of Cleveland, which includes Cuyahoga, Summit, Lorain, Lake, Geauga, Medina, Wayne and Ashland counties, has given a dispensation from abstinence on St. Patrick's Day. That information appears on the diocese Web site.
In the Diocese of Erie, which covers 13 counties in northwestern Pennsylvania including Mercer County, Bishop Donald W. Trautman gave Catholics a dispensation Friday. There's a catch, though. Catholics must refrain from eating meat today as a substitute.
Bishop Trautman granted the dispensation because St. Patrick is the diocese's patron saint.
That's the case for St. Patrick Church, 1420 Oak Hill Ave., Youngstown, where the patron saint is the namesake of the holiday.
Carla Hlavac, director of faith formation, said, "The church usually has some kind of observance for the feast day." This year, the timing allowed parishioners the chance to attend the annual St. Patrick's parade March 12, and that event didn't conflict with a parish celebration.
A pot-luck dinner is planned Friday at the church featuring entertainment by the Youngstown Connection. Tickets are sold out.
"Since it was our feast day celebration, Father [Ed Noga] gave the dispensation for abstinence," Hlavac said. "Though we encourage people to observe abstinence during Lent, we focus on the spirit of giving something up for the Lenten season."
Blanket coverage
At St. Patrick Church, 225 N. Main St., Hubbard, the Rev. Tim O'Neill said he received the information from the diocese about dispensation from abstinence. "Since it was left up to parish priests, I put it in the bulletin," he said, and noted he gave a kind of a blanket dispensation.
"We'll have a Mass Friday for the schoolchildren," he said. But no special patron saint event is planned.
The church will sponsor its regular Lenten fish fry from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Friday.
"Many parishioners and people from the community attend," he said.
In the Diocese of Pittsburgh, which covers six southwestern Pennsylvania counties including Lawrence County, no dispensation has been granted by Bishop Donald W. Wuerl.
The diocese Web site notes that "the saint's feast is not considered reason for dispensation from the rule of abstinence ... and remains a day of abstinence."

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