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Sweet spot

CAREY – The Shrine Cafeteria at Our Lady of Consolation in Carey has been the site of a flurry of activity in preparation for a special weekend sale.

A crew of volunteers has been converging there on weekday mornings to mix, bake, wrap and store an array of baked goods, candy and other food.

Directing the project is Franciscan Father Paul Faroh, whose family founded Faroh’s Candies in 1912. On a recent day, Bette Snyder, Barb Jacobs, Bonnie Long, Kathy Tiell and Jan Morrison were working on bread and candy.

“Bonnie measures everything. She can manage without me, but I like to be here,” Faroh said.

The group has been hosting bake sales about once a month to raise money to build an elevator at Our Lady of Consolation Basilica. However, this weekend’s sale is to help Middle Eastern refugees fleeing from the Islamic State group. Gross sales from the bakery are to be sent to Catholic Relief Services, the overseas extension of Catholic Charities.

Faroh’s family came to the United States from Lebanon more than a century ago, and Faroh said a few relatives still living there keep him abreast of the situation created by extremist groups. About 1.5 million Syrians have left their homes and crossed into Lebanon and Jordan. They escape the carnage only to face the hardships of winter in refugee camps.

This weekend’s bake sale coincides with the Year of Mercy ushered in earlier this month by Pope Francis.

Faroh has added barley loaves to the sale. They are mentioned in the Gospel of John, which describes how Jesus multiplied five barley loaves and two fish to feed 5,000 people.

Faroh said he tried five recipes before finding the one best-suited for the sale. The sourdough recipe he chose requires dough to rise overnight. He said it produces bread with a distinctive flavor and plenty of nutrients.

Working with food is second nature to Faroh. The youngest of 10 children, he often was sent to the kitchen to help his mother. According to Faroh family lore, Paul’s mother came to the U.S. at age 11.

“She sold matches and holy cards on the street,” Faroh said.

The Farohs made use of their family recipes to weather the Great Depression. They opened candy shops in Cleveland, Lorain, Elyria, Sandusky and a few other locations.

“I was dipping chocolate in 1945,” he said. “I made candy for 10 years. Then I decided to try religious life.”

He has been assigned to the Carey shrine three times. Faroh’s current stint began nearly 11 years ago. At Carey, he returned to the shrine kitchen to make foods to be sold for charitable causes. Gradually, he replaced the aging appliances with a convection oven and new fryers to turn out larger batches of food.

Now 86, Faroh said he feels “blessed” with reliable volunteers to assist him and enough physical health to practice his skills. Their combined efforts have helped victims of typhoons and earthquakes and have contributed to construction of the shrine’s new elevator.

The bake sale is to include seven kinds of bread, 12 kinds of pies, apricot and cherry rolls, seven kinds of cookies, potato chips, candy and four kinds of frozen pizza.

“We also have noodles, angel hair pasta, spaghetti sauce … lots of different pies, coffee cakes and donuts,” Jacobs said. “The pies are frozen unbaked. The other stuff is baked and frozen.”

Faroh said many of the baking supplies have been donated.