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Fridays bring faith with a Filet-O-Fish

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Kevin Teo carries on the Filet-O-Fish tradition for Friday abstinence with his son, Zachary, aged nine. Photo: Supplied

Every Friday afternoon for more than 40 years Kevin Teo has walked through the doors of a McDonald’s for a ‘Filet-O-Fish’ burger.

The parishioner of St Jude church in the Canberra suburb of Holder has upheld the traditional Catholic teaching of abstaining from meat on Fridays the Teo way ever since his mother first took him to the fast-food chain in the early 80s.

“We began going to McDonald’s well before I was even conscious of the concept of abstinence,” Kevin said.

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“But at that age around four of five, I wasn’t a fan of the fish option and so as a kid you just had to munch on the fries when mum took us on a Friday,” he laughed.

“By the time I was around seven years old, I understood that we just simply didn’t eat meat on Fridays, that was our thing.”

Now Kevin is passing down the lesson, enjoying the same meal each week with his nine-year-old son Zachary, who is becoming a keen observer of many of the church’s traditions.
He says the young altar server “is very keen and is absorbing a lot about our faith.”

Catholics and the Filet-O-Fish are certainly no strangers to each other.

The burger was created for Catholics in 1965 in Cincinnati after McDonald’s franchise owner Lou Groen recognised the decline in burger sales on Fridays at his restaurant which had a predominately Catholic population.

Looking back, Kevin says his family’s quick and simple Friday habit was a practical faith lesson that drew on the attraction of fast food for a young child.

“Over time I understood more and more about the ways sacrifice is a part of our Catholic identity,” he said.

“I genuinely enjoy eating meat, so as an exercise in self-sacrifice it makes sense for me to continue through the year long after Lent is ended.

“My son tells me the same.

“Sure, he likes the McChicken and the Big Mac, but when Fridays come around, the Filet-O-Fish, well that’ll do.”

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