This morning, Fr. Leo Patalinghug — of Grace Before Meals and recent Food Network fame — cooked breakfast for me! Actually, he cooked for over 200 guests, all local members of our Catholic Professional and Business Club. And he did it while giving an hour long keynote address that had the audience laughing out loud, wiping away sentimental tears, nodding in acknowledgment of his message, and basking in the fun attitude he exudes.
Fr. Leo is the author of Grace Before Meals: Recipes for Family Life, one of the few cookbooks I have actually ever read and used! My personal copy was a gift from Deacon Tom Fox and is autographed by Fr. Leo – I almost don’t want to use it for fear that one of Fr. Leo’s signature recipes will be dripped on the pages, but this book is too good not to enjoy.
Fr. Leo’s talk this morning was very fitting, coming as we commemorate the events of September 11, 2001. He shared with us that the origins of his Grace Before Meals ministry came about in the days immediately following 9/11, when he and his brother priests were on retreat together. It was an amazing story, told with wit and energy. When listening to Fr. Leo or watching him cook, you can’t help but cheer for him – I truly hope that he finds success on network television, where he can share an example of a holy Catholic priest living life to its fullest. His message this morning also reminded us that gathering with our families around special meals, even the non-gourmet variety, draws us closer to one another and to the God who loves us so greatly.
I hope someday you have the treat of enjoying a home-cooked meal from Fr. Leo. But in the mean time, you can take advantage of his wisdom by acquiring your own copy of Grace Before Meals: Recipes for Family Life and visiting him at GraceBeforeMeals.com.