Enjoy Paczki Before Observing Lent

If you’re not familiar with paczki (plural, pronounced ‘POONCH-kee’), here’s some interesting facts. The singular is paczek (pronounced ‘POON-check’). Don’t order just one “paczki” as that’s the plural. Order one paczek. If you happen to make a mistake, don’t worry. How are you to know if you’re not Polish? Indeed, one thing’s for sure: if you don’t enjoy a paczek or two before Lent, you’re missing out!

In any event, whether it’s one or many, paczki are Polish pastries that are inextricably linked with Fat Tuesday celebrations. People not of Polish heritage compare it to a jelly-filled donut. But it’s not comparable at all. And I’m Polish so I know! Why is it not close? Because authentic Polish paczki are made with extremely rich dough, literally made of everything rich found in the Polish pantry. Catholic religious law forbade the consumption of lard, sugar and eggs during the Lenten fasting season. Paczki is the result of cleaning out the Polish pantry and indulging before Lent which generally begins the Thursday before Lent.

Enjoy Paczki from a Bakery

Before you stop just anywhere to buy paczki, make sure you know if the bakery uses an authentic paczki recipe or if they simply use their donut recipe for the dough. Last year I excitedly made a stop at a new bakery and was not happy to find a “donut” paczki. It makes a difference! A true, authentic paczki is super rich and delicious. Eating one brings a body joy. Eating more than one at a time makes you sick! That’s why Polish people start the Thursday before Ash Wednesday so they have a few days to eat more than one!

If you can’t find authentic paczki, why not try making your own?

Authentic Recipe

My Polish Busia made wonderful paczki. Most recipes are similar and this one is very close to my Busia’s. Any way you look at it, paczki are good, and all that is good comes from God. Whip up this recipe, try a homemade paczek, start a new family tradition and have a blessed Lent!

  • 1 1/2 c. whole milk
  • 2 pkgs. active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 2 1/2-3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 c. butter, melted and cooled slightly (Busia used 1/2 butter, 1/2 lard)
  • oil for frying (preferably lard but canola works if lard isn’t available)
  • any fruit jam (optional for filling)

Scald milk and allow to cool to lukewarm. Sprinkle yeast into lukewarm milk. Dissolve yeast in milk and let stand for 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of flour. Stir with a wooden spoon until well mixed and let stand for about 30 minutes or until bubbles form.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks until frothy. Add sugar, salt, vanilla and nutmeg and continue to whisk to combine well.

Grease a large mixing bowl. Set aside. Add the sugar/egg mixture to the dough mixture and vigorously mix with a wooden spoon. Add melted butter and continue to stir. Gradually combine remaining flour until a slightly sticky but soft dough comes together. Flour your hands, knead the dough a few times and form into a ball.

Place dough in prepared mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until it doubles in size (about an hour).

Punch down dough. Roll to a 1/2-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut out dough rounds using a round cutter. Or you can use an upside down drinking glass. Just dip the rim in flour after each cut if it sticks. Place onto a wax-paper (or parchment) lined cookie sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for another 30 minutes in a warm place.

Heat a deep skillet with 1 1/2-inches of oil to about 350 degrees F. Place 3-4 paczki in the skillet at a time and fry until dark, golden brown on each side. Use tongs to flip only once! It’s important to let them get dark in color to make sure they cook all the way through. Gently place on paper towel-lined plate to drain the oil. Repeat the process for remaining paczki.

Sweetening the Paczki

After they drain on paper towel, dip into granulated or powdered sugar. My Busia would put the sugar in a brown paper bag. Then she’d add the paczki a couple at a time and shake until well coated. This way they get sugar on all sides equally. Using a piping bag, fill paczki from the side with fruit jam of choice, if using. Stewed prunes are the traditional filling, but raspberry, blueberry, cherry and more taste great, too. Enjoy!

Polish Hints

Frying hints:

Test the temperature of the fat by dropping in a cube of bread, about one inch in size. If it browns in one minute, the fat is hot enough. This is a good general rule to remember when frying any uncooked food. Be sure, above all, that the fat does not smoke. That means it’s too hot.

Prior to cooking:

Add a tablespoon of cold water to the cold fat . This keeps it from burning easily and insures a nice browning of the food. Fat may be used over and over again, if clarified after each use and stored properly.

To clarify oil:

Let the fat cool and add a few slices of raw potato. Heat slowly until the potato is well browned. Strain through several thicknesses of cheesecloth. Store in a tightly closed container in a cool, dark place. When re-using, fry a quartered apple in the fat to remove any flavor prior to use.

Understanding Holy Week in 4 Minutes!

Understanding Holy Week in just 4 minutes? It’s a great start! Holy Week is quickly approaching, the most sacred week in our Church’s year. Do you know why it’s so holy and sacred? Grab a cup of coffee or your favorite drink, sit back and take 4 minutes to watch this enlightening video. Enter into Holy Week with a whole new understanding of why this week is “Holy”!

Don’t Stop Understanding Holy Week!

This video took just 4 minutes. Obviously, there’s so much more to know and understand about Holy Week. 4 minutes simply can’t do it justice. Why not take some time to visit a Catholic website to learn more (simply Google “Catholic Information Websites” to find excellent sources)? Or when the pandemic is over and the stay at home order is lifted, take some time to visit a Catholic store such as The Angelus (located on Diamond across the street from St. Isidore Church in Grand Rapids). Another great source is Michigan Church Supply located on the first floor at Cathedral Square downtown on the corner of Wealthy and Division Streets in Grand Rapids. Not sure what you’re looking for? Someone is always there to help and make suggestions for you.

No matter our age, there is so much to continually learn about the Catholic Faith. Don’t ever stop learning as it takes more than a life-time to know all there is to know about our beliefs!

A Good Read This Lenten Season

Any Kev-Heads out there? If so, then you know the author of Broken Mary. Yes, Kevin Matthews. Early day shock-jock from WLAV-FM in Grand Rapids. But don’t let that stop you from reading this book! Mr. Matthews, a life-long Catholic, takes readers from his early days up to his amazing re-engagement of the Catholic faith. In addition, you may recognize the local names in the book (like a local priest in Grand Rapids!). And this book will inspire you to take a trip over to St. Anthony of Padua Church as well to visit Broken Mary.

But most importantly, Kevin’s message of brokenness, forgiveness, acceptance, renewal, hope and so much more rings true for all. His message is so sincere, so moving, so honest. It’s a beautiful read for this Lenten Season.

Follow Kevin’s Lead

Kevin had been hearing and feeling a thought in his heart to pray the RosarySo he committed to saying the Rosary every day during Lent. He didn’t know how to say the Rosary. But he found an online recording and prayed with it every morning. Here’s an insert from his book discussing his journey:

“There I was, standing in front of this beautiful statue for all those gathering to see, and now it was time to kneel. Earlier that winter, I’d had my knee replaced, that and my MS were going to make kneeling a challenge. What if I don’t finish in front of all these people? Mary, Jesus, please help me to do this.

Soon I was kneeling, with no pain. I closed my eyes and saw no people. I began to pray the Rosary, and the church noise turned to silence. Within forty days, I had learned how to pray the Rosary without prompting, each bead, fingers moving forward, slowly, prayer after prayer after prayer. Then, finally, the Sign of the Cross. On that last day of Lent, my days of just reciting the Rosary were over, because I was beginning to pray.”

Begin to Pray

Will you follow Kevin’s lead? Will you commit to saying the Rosary every day during Lent, so that when Lent is over, you just won’t be reciting the Rosary?

If you’re unable to pray the Rosary every day, will you prayerfully consider coming early to church to pray the Rosary together? You’re invited to pray a Group Rosary at Assumption every Saturday evening at 5:00 p.m. before the 5:30 Mass, Sunday morning at 8:30 a.m. before the 9:00 Mass and Sunday evening at 5:00 p.m. before the 5:30 Mass. Prayer in groups is powerful! And this is a great way to learn how to pray the Rosary if you don’t remember how.

Learn More About Broken Mary

Go to The Broken Mary Project to read all about Kevin’s journey, pray the Rosary with Kevin with his online recordings, order the book and ask for prayer intentions.


Where in the World is Burkina Faso?

Burkina Faso is due south of Mali, due north of Ghana, southwest of Niger and northeast of Côte d’Ivoireô on the African continent:

Encounter Safiata

The dry and dusty climate of Burkina Faso means farming can be difficult. It means water can be hard to come by. And it means Safiata and her family often face hunger. Even though she had two plots of land to farm, the many months each year without rain made feeding her 9 children and 16 grandchildren a real challenge.

That’s why Catholic Relief Services is providing farmers like Safiata with more land to grow crops—like onions—that thrive in dry climates. And thanks to a CRS-sponsored irrigation system, she knows she’ll have access to water year-round. That means her crops will grow, and she’ll be able to sell some at the market. “I pay school fees thanks to selling the vegetables. The vegetables help solve the problems my family faces,” Safiata says.

Moreover, she can prepare for the future. Together with others, Safiata is putting a little of the income she earns from selling her crops at the market into a community savings pool. “If you face difficulties, the community will help you,” she says. Those who contribute can borrow money from the fund for emergencies, school fees for their children, or to build businesses.

How Can Your Change in the CRS Rice Bowl Help?

In Burkina Faso, Safiata, a mother, grandmother and farmer relies on the money she makes from her crops to put her children through school. How can our purchases this Lent support farmers and artisans? How can you support those, worldwide, who are forced to flee their homes to find safety or better opportunities? Visit crsricebowl.org for more information.

From Our Friends at North Kent Connect:

We Can’t Do It Without You

Spread some cheer during these winter months by volunteering at North Kent Connect! Here are some ways you can help:

  1. Do you like to cook OR are you really great at ordering takeout? Provide meals for our volunteer tax preparers. They spend all day or stay late into the evening to provide free tax preparation for our low-income neighbors. Don’t let them do taxes on an empty stomach – sign up here to bring a meal.
  2. Do you love hands-on ways to feed people in our community? Pack or distribute Senior Pantry and Federal Commodities food bags! These bags are filled to the brim with dry goods, canned food, meat, dairy, and other items for seniors and our clients. These are the perfect volunteer opportunities for groups who are looking to give back.

    Prepare Senior Pantry Bags any time during the day on:

    • Tuesday, March 13
    • WednesdayMarch 14
    • Tuesday, April 17
    • WednesdayApril 18
    • Tuesday, May 15
    • WednesdayMay 16

     Distribute Senior Pantry bags (9:30 am – 1:00 pm) on:

    • Thursday, March 15
    • ThursdayApril 19
    • ThursdayMay 17

    Prepare Federal Commodities Bags any time during the day on:

    • Monday, March 19
    • Tuesday, March 20
    • WednesdayMarch 21

    Distribute Federal Commodities (8:30 am – 3:00 pm) on:

    • Thursday, March 22

Need More Information?

For more information on volunteering, contact Community Engagement Coordinator Cassie LaMacchia via email or at (616) 866-3478. Thank you!


CRS Encounter: Iraq – Life and Dignity of the Human Person

Catholic social teaching inspires and guides how we are to live and work in the world. In this principle, Life and Dignity of the Human Person, Jesus reminds us that we are all made in God’s image and likeness. That means that every human being has a special value and a purpose. We need to care for each other so we can be the people God calls us to be.

Encounter Majd


Eight-year-old Majd thought his family was going on a picnic. His mother, Lamya, said they would be back home in a week. But when ISIS attacked their home in northern Iraq, the family fled for good.

“What worried me the most were the kids,” Lamya says. “Our life was stable and we were doing well; we had a very big house. Our children had everything they needed. But when we fled, I was not able to bring anything for them—not even food.”

Fortunately, the family found an apartment to rent with other displaced families. It is much smaller than the home they had, but it’s safer. The children enrolled in a CRS-sponsored school, where the routine provides hope, stability and a sense of belonging. “Education is very important,” says Lamya, especially in Iraqi culture.

Lamya received training from CRS and became a teacher at the school. Now she has hope for the future. “I really love children, so when I go to class I feel like I am with my family,” she says.

Her son, Majd, also loves going to school. “Majd is so motivated to go to school. He just wants it to be morning so he can go,” Lamya says. “He is relaxed, having fun and more confident.” For Majd, school means a normal life—now and in the future.


Preparing For Lent

Sometimes, there’s no better way to prepare for Lent than to spend a little time with Fr. Mike Schmitz!

By Ascension Presents. Go to their website to see more videos like this! Have a blessed Lent!

Meatless Meals a Struggle?

Lent 2018 is quickly approaching! For Catholics, that means eating no meat on Ash Wednesday, February 14th (which is not only a day of abstinence but fasting as well). The Fridays of Lent for the next 6 weeks are days of abstaining from eating meat. If you don’t go to the Knights of Columbus fish fry at Assumption or another local fish fry on Fridays, what do you serve your family at home for meatless meals?

Of course there’s always fish. The Gorton Fisherman makes sure the options are plentiful at the local grocery stores. But what if you’re on a special diet that doesn’t allow for fried, battered fish? Or carbs for that matter? Do you struggle to find something the whole family will like? Make fish-stick Fridays a thing of the past!

Meatless Meals from Around The World

If you feel really adventurous, try a recipe from Catholic Relief Services! They have six years worth of recipes of meatless meals from around the world. In addition, they have suggestions as to saving money that you can then put in the Rice Bowl.

Try a recipe from a country such as Columbia, Lesotho, Tanzania and many more! Make it a family event by looking up the country and learning about it’s people, culture and history. Perhaps you can find a recipe from your family’s heritage. If you do make one of these recipes, please let us know in the comments below and be sure to share a picture! Click here to access the CRS recipes.

Share Your Ideas and Recipes!

What are some meatless recipes you serve your family during the Lenten season? Please share below in the comments so our Parish Family can get some new ideas to avoid fish-stick Fridays!


Lent and Catholic Relief Service’s Rice Bowl

The Feature Image:  Teacher Joseph Andrise, 29, from Notre Dame de Lamerci de Robillard school, in Nord Department, Haiti, and her students of first grade eat cassava bread with peanut butter that is given as a morning snack. Many children come to school without eating. This gives them energy to stay awake and learn. Donations to the CRS Rice Bowl helps to make a difference.

Catholic Relief Services in partnership with the diocesan office of the Catholic Education Commission, are implementing the program Haiti Reads. Every student receives a new workbook to practice reading and writing. This is a big change from before, when students had to copy notes from the board.

Photo by Oscar Leiva/Silverlight for Catholic Relief Services

Read a letter from Bishop Walkowiak here.


Your Lenten Gifts Change Lives

Did you know that by sacrificing $1 a day for 40 days of Lent, you help provide:

1 MONTH OF FOOD for a family

2 YEARS OF SEED for a farmer

1 EMERGENCY KIT for refugees

75% of your CRS Rice Bowl donation supports Catholic Relieve Services programs around the world.

25% helps alleviate hunger and poverty in our local Diocese of Grand Rapids!

  • Catholics in the U.S. touch more than 120 million lives through CRS programs.
  • Motivated by the example of Jesus Christ, CRS reaches communities in 112 countries.
  • CRS Rice Bowl helps families reflect on and respond to global issues like hunger, migration and poverty.

Companions on the Journey

PRAY to encounter Christ in your life and in every member of our human family.

FAST to encounter the obstacles that keep you from serving God and your neighbor.

GIVE to encounter God’s love, and share it with our brothers and sisters in need.

Rice Bowls Available in the Church Narthex

Please stop by the table in the Church Narthex to pick up your family’s Rice Bowl beginning after all Masses the weekend of February 10th and 11th. They will remain there until they’re all gone!

Help Your Children Understand What the Rice Bowl is!

Please share this video with your children!

More info to come throughout all of Lent! Stay tuned…

With Lent quickly approaching, let’s talk about more ways to prepare for Lent! Giving up something for Lent is traditionally what most of us tend to do. Because that’s what we always did in the past when we were younger, right? Indeed, we tend to do what’s familiar. With this in mind, why not challenge ourselves to do something different but extremely meaningful? Something that will make this the most meaningful Lent ever?

Prepare for Lent!

If you’re reading the previous posts, you’ll see other ideas you can incorporate into your Lenten devotions. Recall there are hundreds of videos and books on FORMED. Dynamic Catholic’s Best Lent Ever is once again offering their amazing Lenten devotions. All are fantastic options! But there’s more…Add to the scene another great option to help you pray more this upcoming Lenten Season.

A New Lenten Devotion

Introducing FORMED.org’s Lenten Devotion:

Interested in signing up? Click this link HERE!