Grace Before Meals Contest


Congratulations to Fr. Leo Patalinghug on the release of the wonderful new version of his book Grace Before Meals: Recipes and Inspiration for Family Meals and Family Life! I recently shared the following endorsement of this great resource for families:

Through his amazing ministry and this wonderful new book, Father Leo Patalinghug has cooked up the perfect recipe for a fun, faith-filled and delicious family life.  This book is packed not only with delectable meals any family can prepare, but also with thought provoking commentary to get conversations flowing around your dinner table.  You’ll enjoy Father Leo’s culinary treats, his spiritual inspiration, and the great wit and good cheer with which he draws friends and family closer together to celebrate life, love and great food.

Here’s a brief description of this book:

In Grace Before Meals: Recipes and Inspiration for Family Meals and Family Life, Father Leo Patalinghug (yes, the same Father Leo who defeated Bobby Flay on Throwdown!) helps you make family meals a way of life. Combining more than 30 simple but delicious recipes related to personal milestones, family holidays, and faith observances, along with scriptural references and short essays offering wisdom on faith, values, and family togetherness, Father Leo shows that mealtime is the perfect setting for discussing the major issues all families face. In fact, research shows that frequent family dinners can reduce many risks facing children, including drug and alcohol abuse, teen pregnancy, depression, eating disorders, and poor academic performance. These are meals that nourish body and spirit.

Father Leo and his publisher have kindly donated five copies of this book as a giveaway for our readers.  To enter, simply leave a comment below telling us what you think about the importance of family dinners.  Five winners will be randomly selected. To enter, leave a comment on this post by midnight on August 14, 2010.  The giveaway will end on August 14, 2010.

Order Grace Before Meals: Recipes and Inspiration for Family Meals and Family Life and support with your purchase.

Update: Our lucky winners are Scott(#1), Chinwe (#13), Mary (#23), Sharon (#54) and Barb (#73). Your prizes will be sent soon.  Take a look at our other contests for more great chances to win!


About Author

Lisa M. Hendey is the founder and editor of and the bestselling author of the Chime Travelers children's fiction series, The Grace of Yes, The Handbook for Catholic Moms and A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms. As a board member and frequent host on KNXT Catholic Television, Lisa has produced and hosted multiple programs and has appeared on EWTN and CatholicTV. Hendey hosted “Catholic Moments” on Radio Maria and is the technology contributor for EWTN’s SonRise Morning Show. Lisa's articles have appeared in Catholic Digest, National Catholic Register, and Our Sunday Visitor. Hendey travels internationally giving workshops on faith, family, and Catholic technology and communications topics. She was selected as an Elizabeth Egan Journalism Fellow, attended the Vatican Bloggers Meeting, the “Bishops and Bloggers” meeting and has written internationally on the work of Catholic Relief Services and Unbound. Hendey lives with her family in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Visit Lisa at for information on her speaking schedule or to invite her to visit your group, parish or organization.


  1. Being able to have meals together is important for the life of the family. It’s a way for them to share how their day went with each other, and helps strengthen the ties that bind them together. There is the saying, a family that prays together, stays together. I think one can say the same of eating together. 🙂

  2. Dinner is a special time to gather with our families, give thanks, and share food and conversation with loved ones.

  3. The beauty of meal time at home is that you generally have to “stop”. Most people don’t eat while walking around their home. They sit to eat. To the extent you can get everyone to sit at the same time, you can share so much. You can share your day, the good, the bad and even the funny and the serious. It is such a great bonding experience on a daily basis. In the long run, it strengthens the cohesiveness of the family.

  4. Sean Burgess on

    Family meals are important to us, so it’s rare that we go without. On the occasions that we are forced to eat separately, you can really feel the loss. Very happy to see Fr. Leo’s work going more and more mainstream – and I mean that in a good way.

  5. Family dinners are so important. When I was growing up, my parents and I always had dinner together. It’s important to share about how your day went and to connect with each other. It’s a beautiful thing. 🙂

  6. Lisa, you are awesome! Thanks for what you do with this site and for promoting a great priest’s work!

  7. When I was growing up, my parents insisted that we all sit down together for meals. It’s only now that I appreciate how those times gave us moments to bond together as a family, beginning with saying grace and followed by face-to-face communicating with our parents and siblings. Now that I’m a newlywed, my husband and I take time to have suppers together. Even if we both have busy days, we’ll always have time for prayers and meals shared together.

  8. Oh, saw him on Life on the Rock. Awesome food and awesome message about food, faith and family!

  9. I loove a great cookbook! I used to HATE cooking! I did it mostly as an obligation:) but lately, I’ve discovered some amazing recipes, I’m growing in confidence as a cook 🙂 and it gives such joy to my husband and kids!

    Love Fr. Leo!! He’s doing wonderful work for our families!

  10. I would love this book. Last night during family prayer before dinner my 4 yr,. old saw what I cooked and asked God if he had some GOOD food up there!

  11. So wonderful to see a young priest who is excited about his vocation!! It comes across in everything he says and does. I haven’t had a chance to try any of Fr. Leo’s recipes from his blog, but they all look delicious. If you haven’t checked out Fr. Leo’s blog/website, you need to: Lots of good info and inspiration there even if you don’t cook. 🙂

  12. Kathleen Williams on

    WOW! This sounds like a perfect gift for my daughter and her young family!! Can’t wait to get it! Thanks, Kathy

  13. In my opinion family dinners are important because they give us the opportunity to reconnect with family members that have been away from the home all day…usually Daddy! We are a homeschool family, so dinner time gives the children the opportunity to share their day with Dad! It is also a great time for us to discuss faith issues and issues important to each family member.
    Thanks so much Lisa for the chance to win Fr. Leo’s book, a great resource to help us improve on our family devotions during dinner time! God Bless!

  14. We’ve only been married about five months, but already see how easy it is not to prioritize family time at the dinner table, especially after a long day at work. We are quickly learning how good it is for our family to break together regularly.

  15. I love seeing how Father Leo brings food, faith and family together. Family dinners are something I vividly remember from my childhood – where we all interacted every night together. My husband and I strive to create that same family togetherness with our children over dinner each night.

  16. For our family, dinner is really a tradition, 6 PM, every night. Most nights we cook at home. It’s so wonderful to see everyone present and to hear a little about the day. I wish we could linger more, but the youngest come and go so quickly. How nice to pray together (including the Angelus), giving thanks for our many blessings.

    Fr. Leo has such enthusiasm and his ministry is needed in our fast-paced, overscheduled world today.

  17. Sharing meals together with my famiy (husband and 10 kids) is how we come together and just appreciate one another and celebrate the day’s accomplishments or offer words of encouragement on those not so good days.

  18. We have always eaten our evening meal together as a family since our oldest was a baby. Now that he’s nearly 19 and working most nights, we miss him at the dinner table & enjoy the rare times when he is around & able to join us.

    As an aside, I LOVED seeing Fr. Leo on Throwdown against Bobby Flay…he was enjoyable to watch & the fact that he won was a bonus! ; )

  19. I love Fr. Leo’s work – have followed him since (almost) the beginning! He’s such an inspiration as I try to help my family fully live our gift of Catholicism. Thanks for the contest!

  20. I think family dinners (or other meals for that matter) are crucial for bonding a family together. It’s a time when the entire family can come together and share the things they’ve done during the day. Please enter me in the contest, too. I’d love to have a copy of Fr. Leo’s book.

  21. Oh, I forgot — family dinners are important because it’s one more opportunity to pray together.

  22. My children are 2 1/2 and 14 months, but we still make it a priority to have a sit down dinner all together. We may not eat the same food, but we enjoy each others company and have some fun conversations. My 14 month old’s first intelligible word was ‘amen’ which he learned from our praying before meals!

  23. Raising our daughter into the Catholic Family has been such a blessing to me and to my husband. It has been a wonderful experience to see every new milestone she reaches. The one thing I especially love is to have her try new and healthy foods. I love to cook for her and to see her experience new tastes and different types of food. We especially love the bonding time we get at as a family at dinner time. I would be so honor to get a copy of Father Leo’s cookbook as it represents a tradition we will always keep in our family.

  24. Every night during dinner, the TV is off, if the phone rings it is unanswered, and everyone is seated at the table. It is the time for our family to share our thoughts and feelings and to know that they are loved.

  25. With younger children, family dinners are common at our house. But as our children grow and get involved in outside activities, we want to continue to spend our time together for meals to keep our family connected.

  26. Esma Sullivan on

    family meals are a great way to keep touch with the coming and going of family
    get togethers are great as well as we always “eat” you can’t leave till you have a cup of tea, which usually means a meal.

  27. The memories I have of sitting around the family dinner table, listening to mom and dad discuss their workdays….I learned so much just by listening to them. Biology (mom is a nurse), math (dad was a computer dude), conflict resolution (the daily problems they ran into); the list of things that could go on and on….
    At our table, kids were silent as it was a rare time for mom and dad to connect. However, we were allowed to ask questions. Many times, in these questions (especially from my older brother and sister) I learned about the world around me.
    My husband talks of his family around the dinnertable (which still occurs whenever we get together!) debating the issues of the day, opinions of movies, opinions on anything (it still also can get quite loud!). My hubby talks of how he learned about debating, how to do tasks etc. from the dinner conversation at their table. It’s a time to build relationships and knowledge of all kinds!

  28. Kim L Henderson on

    Not only having family dinners together is essential in today’s times, but can be fun, educational as well as informative. My husband passed away July 26, 2009. Caring and considerate neighbors, friends, and church members brought our family meals until the third week in September. My three sons, ages 19, 17, 17 and I enjoyed eating meals made from love. We were often thought of through prayer and felt God’s loving arms surrounding us through this difficult time. Afterwards, we continued to eat together. It brought a sense of calmness, if only for a short time. It grew from there and now a year later, we look forward to eating together if just to talk about the day’s event or what kind of day we had, or just to talk. Thank you for reminding me what family dinners are all about.

  29. For our family, dinner time means prayer time–a time of thanksgiving and special intentions for our family and friends. Dinnertime connects us in a way that reflects of love of each other and God. Blessings!

  30. Family meals are so important. They help center the family and keep communication going. We would love a copy of this book. Thank you!

  31. Family Meals are a central part of family life. Many lifetime memories begin at the dinner table.
    As family life has decreased in central importance in our society so has the family meal.
    It is a blessing to have reminders of their importance from wonderful shepherds like Fr Leo.

  32. Our family hasn’t seemed to get the knack of this family tradition. Yet, I have been repetitively reading about the value of it. Consequently, I would love to use Fr. Leo’s book as a tool to begin my journey into regular family meals.

    One side note, though– our family has begun to say grace regularly at meals. This has motivated me to start cooking more family dinners, just so we can pray together! It has also been a motivator in making sure everyone can be at the meal before we start.

  33. Oops! My baby pressed the enter key! I am so excited because my husband’s upcoming job change is going to allow for many more family dinners than we currently have 🙂

  34. I never learned to cook until I had kids. But even as small as they are, they appreciate the delicious smells wafting from the kitchen throughout the house, and will come and sit in the kitchen with their books or crayons to keep me company as I cook. It is a labor of love, and they know it, since my 3-year-old daughter was beaming when she announced: “Mama cooked this for me!” To sit down and fill their tummies with fresh nutritional food is a delight, and they fill my heart with their insights and views on the world from a preschoolers or toddler’s eyes. It helps build bonds, build strong ties and rapport, and affords an opportunity for guidance in a world that can be easy to get lost in and overwhelmed by. No wonder Holy Thursday is an integral part of the Paschal Mystery—sharing a meal is sacred, both in the larger Catholic community whenever there is a mass and in the home.

  35. This sounds like a wonderful book! Family dinners are a priority here. We work together, pray, talk , and most importantly, MOM has a great opportunity to teach “ladies and gentlemen” manners at the table. Love it! and would love this book! Thanks for all you do!

  36. As our children grew up with hectic days of school, sports, church activities etc. It was hard to get together during the day. Our evening meal was the one meal we insisted on eating together so we could discuss all that was happening and had happened during the day. We also had our best CCE and Sunday’s liturgy discussions during meals. It is the best time to enjoy each others thoughts and feelings about certain issues as we are all a captive audience during meal-time. Now when our grandchildren are with us at meals we do the same thing with them. Discussions are wonderful with a 6 year old and a 4 year old! It is also our time to pray together before meals and after meals. Both girls love to cook and help grandma and I cherish our times together in our kitchen where we can discuss all things in an “unhurried” tempo! Your book would be a wonderful addition to ur times together!

  37. Family dinners ARE important. Now that I am alone, I truly appreciate having family with whom to share my meal and my day. Munching a sandwich while sitting in front of the T.V. just isn’t the same as having a nice, hot meal with my family. “You never know what you’ve got til it’s gone.”

  38. Family dinner time is very important to us. It’s nice to see everyone’s faces around the table! And of course the conversation is priceless!

  39. We try very hard to get everyone around the table every night for dinner. There are some occasions that it doesn’t happen, and the absence of someone at the table is greatly felt. It’s a priority that we eat together, hear about everyone’s day and reconnect. It helps that we all love to eat 🙂

  40. Stephanie H on

    My children and I love to cook. My seven year old has planned many of our family’s holiday meals based on various cooking shows. When we cook together, we have so much fun. When we eat together, especially the meals they had a hand in, you can see the pride they have in their work, contribution, and the love they have for their family. Our meals are colorful, loud, busy, blessed by the Lord and my little ones (6 to be exact) and sometimes even messy. When my husband is able to join us, everyone wants to sit next to him. I joke that we should cut a hole in the center of the table so we can all sit next to him. When we eat together, we are making memories that will sustain us when we are apart, memories to cherish when times are tough, Memories for laughs, memories that the children will want to re-create with their own families someday, just as I have done.

  41. I believe family dinners are so important to the development of the domestic church. The bonding that occurs cannot be replaced by fast dinners at McDonald’s on the way to a sports event. Prayer together before the meal and sharing of life’s ups and downs during the meal are what bring families together.

  42. Lisa Howell on

    Family meals are a wonderful time to draw closer together, much like Christ drew his disciples together for that final meal. My favorite time is the prayer before the meal, it give us time to pause and thank God for all that he has given us, whether it’s a feast or a bowl of oatmeal, God has and will provide all that we ever need.

  43. Family meals brings us all back together to heart of sharing and caring.
    Meals enjoyed as one, experiences retold, laughter shared, sorrows divided; our day melts into the oneness of God’s gift of family.

  44. I saw Fr. Leo on Food Network and was so inspired by his ability to relate to modern families. I think his book can inspire. As food nourishes the soul famility dinners nourish the spirit and the family dynamic. It is a way to connect and communicate-both critical skilss for life success.

  45. You always find the most wonderful books. This is the first I have heard of either Fr. Leo or his book. I’d love to try some of his recipes.

  46. I love Fr. Leo! I was so sad to miss him when he came to Fort Meade, MD this spring. I was unfortunately out of town. Thanks for doing this giveaway!

  47. This book would be a great addition to our cookbook library…but it appears to be much more than just a cookbook! Thanks, Fr. Leo, for donating, and for your wonderful ministry!

  48. Id love to have a copy of Fr Leo’s book. I am not the greatest cook in the world, but i am interested in using my love for food, and my god given hands and making food for all to enjoy. If you need my mailing address, just let me know or email me. I included my email address in the mail box section of this form.

  49. Getting together for meals is a non-negotiable for me, especially on Sundays. I love it when we’re all together around the table–I think even the kids would miss it (although there is occasional grumbling when playtime etc. is cut short to sit and eat our dinner 😉 ). It is an institution that has been lost in our hectic world and it is wonderful how Fr. Leo has made such an effort to save it!

  50. I enjoy Fr. Leo’s work. His cooking is great but all should be so lucky as to have been to Mass with him as the Celebrant. He is an amazing priest.

  51. I think the most important part of family dinners is teaching our kids MANNERS. It is the only meal of the day we get to be together as a complete family (including Granny, who lives with us). Yes, the conversation is important but I personally want to work more on the teaching manners part more than anything else!

  52. In a busy household of six, sharing our evening meal together is the highlight of my day. It takes work, but bringing everybody together around the table to share in prayer, food and conversation is vital to keeping the family in sync. Each of us in the family has a responsibility in preparation for the meal, so it’s more than just sitting around the table. Working together as a unit to prepare for the gathering is activity that helps create/promote unity. Family celebrations always seem to involve food – so when we gather every evening for our shared meal, we celebrate our unity – with food, shared stories, laughter, occasional tears – but we always come together and thank our Lord for the good things he has provided.

  53. My family always had dinner together growing up, and I try to do the same with my daughter. It was always the norm in our house – even if we did have practices and other things going on – we just ate earlier, or later, or out together at a restaurant. I think it’s weird when people all kind of grab things on the fly. You never end up feeling like you’ve had a proper supper if you don’t sit down with other people at a table. But anyway, I love to cook, and hope to win this cookbook! Thanks for the contest!

  54. Christine the Soccer Mom on

    Family meals help foster family unity. There, you share not just those moments during the meal, but your happenings from the rest of the day, as well as discussions on other topics. Eating together as a family has always been very important to my husband and I. It’s also a chance to stop everything and just *be together*!

  55. I think the importance of family meals is very important to the family institution, unfortunately, it is losing value. Happily, though, not in this family! I enjoy our family meals with me and my 3 boys (2 most times, unless the other comes for dinner 🙂 ).

  56. When I was growing up I had dinner with my parents every day. They taught me to thankful for every meal. When I married I became part of large extended family which got together for family meals every Thursday. It is an amazing experience. It still continues today after 35 years of marriage. As we raised our four boys, we attempted to have as many meals/dinners together every week. In the world today, with all these competing opportunities, these experiences make family strong and provide a time together to share life and family values and to share God’s love.

  57. Family dinners are vital in keeping family members connected to one another. It is a chance to fellowship with one another and have a few minutes out of the rush of the day to hear what has been going on with everyone. My husband and I make an effort each night to sit down to dinner together alongside our 7 month old, and can’t wait until our family grows to fill all the seats at the dinner table.

  58. Family meals are important. We are trying to do them consistently for the sake of our toddler who is learning manners

  59. Marguerite Peck on

    We love to share this wonderful book with our new adoptive children. We are family of seven children and adopting older boys that do not have traditions.

  60. We love to have family meals. If dad is not working too late, we will all have dinner together. But no matter what we are doing, a sit down dinner is planned in our day. The kids really enjoy planning and making dinner on family night. Our kids are 9, 7 and 4 years old and I hope by doing this, since they were babies, that it will stay with us when they are in their teens. Expecially family night!

  61. Making and serving meals to those whom we love is a sacred act. I always ask God to add love to my cooking, to make it nourishing for our bodies and spirits. When we invite Him to be present at our meals, we are dining with Him! Thank you, Lisa, for this wonderful giveaway. I know the people who win copies of this wonderful book will make good and holy use of it. Love, Lisa

  62. Family dinners are a time to share and learn things we wouldn’t normally have the time to about each other. I think meal time can be a real bonding experience that everyone comes to rely on and need.

  63. We are a young family building traditions—and family meals every night is one of them. Our goal is to eat/take out only once a week. I’m working on creating a collection of family favorites–would love to win a copy! 🙂

  64. My fondest childhood memories always lead me back to the times that involved food. My parents home was always open to everyone who needed a hot plate of food. My grandparents lived with us in a 2 family house and it was “normal” to have the house filled with all my aunts, uncles and cousins every Sunday for dinner and during holiday times .One Thanksgiving my cousin brought over some co-workers from Japan who where here on business and would have spent the holiday alone. My mother and abuelita (grandma) always told me that food is “love on a plate. The cook always leaves a little piece of themselves in that meal so that the guest can have that gift until the next time they come.” I now live in a different state from my family and my mother and abuelita have now passed on, but I am determined to keep some of that tradition alive by cooking and having dinner with my family every night and on holidays to open my door to all of our friends who can’t make it home for the holidays. That is one way to continue to honor my mother even though she is not here

  65. A good family meal not only brings everyone together when it’s time to eat, but it also can unite families in the preparation as well. It’s a wonderful way to grow in our relationships together.

  66. It is so easy now to not have dinner as a family. Especially when you have a spouse who works long hours and/or travels.

  67. Warren Jewell on

    I can see that I am one of the few men commenting, but I’d like that cookbook.

    More, it is at family dinners that the best and bulk of communications can be carried on. Food is always ‘comfort food’ with love around. Family dinners are the most likely vehicle for loving communications in the family.

  68. Family dinners are moments when the “madness” of everyday stops and we get the chance to enjoy each other’s company and together give thanks. It’s when each person summarizes their day and shares their feelings.

  69. Meal time is our chance to reconnect with one another, especially after a busy day. There is something heartwarming about sharing love, laughter and a great (or simple) meal.

  70. Let me add something different. We have our own special tradition for dinner prayers. After saying the traditional prayer (“Bless us…”) we all squeeze hands, look each other in the eye, and say “Love everybody!” Believe me, some days you have to dig deep to say that with a cheerful heart, but this ritual reinforces our love and bonds with each other.

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