Scranton, Lackawanna County -- As the nearly decade-long pastor of St. Ann's Basilica in Scranton, Fr. Fran Landry, C.P. leads the parish. During the church's annual novena, he helps lead the food stand. Fr. Fran and an army of volunteers help prepare and serve food to the thousands of people who attend the religious services each July. "Well, to me it is a ministry and I want to be of service to the pilgrims that are coming here."
While the faithful who attend the novena crave a nourishment of the soul, some often find themselves hungry after missing a meal or spending hours on the basilica grounds. "They also need bodily nourishment. That's the word I should use. And it's good," said Loretta Anderson of West Pittston. She has sampled just about everything on the menu. When asked if Fr. Fran's cooking is heavenly or sinfully delicious she replied, "Now that's a tricky question because it's heavenly and sinfully delicious."
If there is one particular menu item Fr. Fran is best known for, it's probably his seafood salad roll. It's something he introduced at the novena food stand about seven years ago. He wanted to bring a little hometown flavor to the spiritual crowd. "All of the specials here at the food stand ended in a "ski". And I'm from New England so I asked could we have one special that might be different," he said.
Lackawanna County native Nancy Smith who now lives in St. Augustine, Florida is impressed that the pastor helps feed his flock. "Well, you can't get any better than that. I mean the food's going to be Godly, so, I don't think you're going to get anything bad from a priest that's cooking." It's a little "soul" food to go along with a dose of spirituality. "This is a part of extending the prayerful services and all of that. They're with people that want to be in the midst of other good and holy people seeking God," said Fr. Fran.
Fr. Fran's seafood salad roll will be on sale Friday at the food stand at the novena. He says he expects the food stand to generate between $25,000 and $40,000 for St. Ann's Basilica Parish this month.