Westville women use their noodles to benefit St. Mary Parish around the year

It takes many hands, a lot of patience and plenty of good humor to make the 320 bags of noodles that would fly out of the door at the St. Mary Christmas Bazaar in Westville. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

WESTVILLE — Noodles become more than a tasty side dish when the “Noodle Ladies” at St. Mary Parish are involved. In their loving hands, the noodles become a way to raise funds and hearts at Christmas and heavy hearts at funeral dinners throughout the year.

“We started with 100 bags and they’d be gone. Then 200 bags. Now that we make more than 300 bags there seems to be enough for everyone,” said JoAnn Thompson of the noodles, which are a Christmas bazaar favorite. “They come in with shopping bags.”

What is left goes into funeral dinners, which always include a big pot of chicken and noodles. The Altar and Rosary Society also supplies chicken for the main dish, while parish volunteers provide vegetable dishes, potatoes, and desserts.

(The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

(The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

“What they serve and how they treat families is just awesome,” said Jackie Shadden, who was running dough through the pasta machine on a recent Wednesday evening. “It’s a wonderful meal, a full meal.”

They make certain each table is adorned with a tablecloth and flowers, too, she told The Catholic Post.

“St. Mary’s is a unique parish, it really is,” Shadden said. “There’s a lot of cooperation and a lot of volunteerism. A lot of caring and sharing.”

MORE NOODLES AT EASTER

Each batch of noodles takes 5 pounds of flour, 2 dozen eggs, salt and a little water and the “Noodle Ladies” make five batches at a time. Each work session generates about 40 bags of noodles, cut into wide and thin strips.

All the ingredients are donated, either by the “Noodle Ladies” themselves or parishioners who will buy flour and eggs.

Thompson is usually the first one in and gets the dough started. Standing around the large preparation table in the kitchen of the parish hall, the women take turns putting small amounts of the dough through machines that will flatten it to the right thickness and then cut it into strips. Others will place the noodles on large trays so they can dry overnight. They will return the next morning to put the fresh noodles into bags.

There are generally 12 ounces in each bag, which sells for $4. In addition to the Christmas bazaar, the “Noodle Ladies” prepare noodles for the bake sale before Easter.

There were more than 320 bags waiting for people who attended the Nov. 19 Christmas bazaar this year.

Members of the St. Mary Altar and Rosary Society in Westville -- also known as the "Noodle Ladies" --- each play a role in mixing and making the noodles that will help them raise funds and hearts. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

Members of the St. Mary Altar and Rosary Society in Westville — also known as the “Noodle Ladies” — each play a role in mixing and making the noodles that will help them raise funds and hearts. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

The homemade noodles keep so well because they are frozen until they’re ready to be used. At St. Mary they often fill the large freezer and auxiliary freezer in the parish center and are stored in the freezer in the rectory, if needed.

Noodle-making is a longtime tradition in the Westville area.

“A lot of us make noodles at home,” said Darla Cooke. “I’ve always made my own. I never buy noodles.”

The “Noodle Ladies” started making them by hand, mixing the dough with a fork and cutting them with a knife. The process got easier when they acquired the commercial mixer that belonged to the school. The advent of pasta-making machines made it faster still.

The Altar and Rosary Society uses profits from the sale of the noodles to buy the wine and hosts for Mass, as well as candles for the altar and other projects that come up during the year.

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