Pilgrimages & Positive Press

Fr. Leo just got back from Rome after being present for the Canonizations of Sts. John Paul II nd John XXIII. It’s another rare fifth week during a month, so that gives us an opportunity to show you “what’s on the table” in the upcoming months, and hopefully, get you excited to join us in the many ways you can: events, pilgrimages, Epic Food Fight, parish missions, social media and more.


Steubenville Conferences 2014

Click to watch Fr. Leo’s crazy martial arts/singing/dancing/cooking competition at Steubenville East from October 23, 2013.

Fr. Leo is going to be returning to the Steubenville Conferences, and as always, it is going to be crazy fun & faith-filled. If you or your children are interested in going, they have plenty of places to go (click HERE to check out where conferences will be) but Fr. Leo will be at the following:

Steubenville on the Bayou on June 27-29, 2014
346 Civic Center Blvd 
Houma,LA 70360
Steubenville Atlantic on July 4-6, 2014
Dalhousie Arts Centre,  Dalhousie University 
6101 University Ave
Halifax, NS, Canada, B3H 1W8
Steubenville Main Campus # 5 on July 18-20, 2014
1235 University Blvd  


These conferences are fantastic events for all generations, truly invigorating and fostering the faith of thousands of young people across the world, so if you have never been, you should definitely take your kid and go. Check out www.steubenville.org for more info.

Pilgrimages for 2014 and 2015

Fr. Leo’s trip to Italy with Teresa Tomeo and Dcn. Dom Pastore is coming up May 18-27, 2014, where they will be leading couples to Rome, the Amalfi Coast and Pompeii on a special Couples’ Retreat, and where is more romantic than Rome itself? For more info, check out Corporate Travels website by clicking HERE.

Click to find out more about the Napa Valley pilgrimage this November.

Also, you may have noticed at the top of the page, Fr. Leo is leading another pilgrimage to Napa Valley on November 9-14, 2014, called Fruit of the Vine, Work of Human Hands: A Gourmet Food & Wine Retreat for the Body, Mind, & Soul. Fr. Leo headed up the same trip in 2011 and it was a tremendous success and amazing experience. We hope you will consider joining in this time around. Keep your eye out for a trailer from the last adventure soon.

In addition to the the upcoming trip to Italy and the Napa Valley Pilgrimage, Fr. Leo has the following dates and destinations set, with more information to come:

Holy Land with Chefs for Peace 2015

February 1 – February 13, 2015

Italy’s World Fair with a Food Focus and the Exposition of the Shroud of Turin

– June 18 – June 28, 2015  


The Mysticism and Meals Tour of Spain
– August 23 – September 3, 2015

We hope you can make it on one of these life-changing experiences. They will each be remembered for years to come, and should truly nourish your faith even more than the ethnic food you will get to eat while on the pilgrimage.

Savoring Our Faith Season 4: Fr. Leo hits the road!


Fr. Leo filming Savoring Our Faith in Rome in 2012. More travels to come!

For those asking about the next season of Savoring Our Faith on EWTN, we have been in talks with EWTN to film some of Fr. Leo’s upcoming adventures across the USA, which means that he is taking his show on the road! While there, he may visit parishes, restaurants, and with people to truly bring the conversation to people’s home – literally. More details to come, but we hope you can tune in and enjoy the show. You can also catch the show at the following times:

Sun     1:30 AM ET
Thu     5:30 PM ET
Sat     4:00 AM ET

Epic Food Fight: A Good Read Indeed

Fr. Leo’s latest book, Epic Food Fight: A Bite-Sized History of Salvation, published by Franciscan Media, is a departure from Fr. Leo’s previous cookbooks, namely in that it is not a “cookbook”, but rather an in-depth look at the theology of food, identifying how God wants to feed us good food (e.g. the fruit of Mary’s womb, Jesus), while the devil wants to feed us “fast food” (e.g. the forbidden fruit), which is not good for us, yet we keep coming back for it. Epic Food Fight offers great insight on how we are called the “feed the flock” and is a great book for study groups to read and discuss (study materials are in the works). If you have a Kindle or want an Audio book, you should check out Amazon as well, and please be sure to leave a review after you read it so the world can know what you think. It only helps spread the word, so thank you in advance. We truly hope it makes a difference. Some of the positive press:

In Epic Food Fight, we are treated to a new perspective on food in our spiritual lives. … I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in leaning more about salvation history. The discussion questions make it a good book club choice.

-Reviewed by JoAnne Griebel, Catholic Library World

[The book’s] playful wit enlivens “Epic Food Fight,” which takes the reader on a tour of various aspects of salvation in seven different chapters…each chapter could inspire its own retreat or meditation; the discussion questions provided could easily serve as catalysts for thoughtful reflection.

– Reviewed by Nancy L. Roberts, Catholic News Service. 

This book is a good resource for clergy, those involved in parish ministry, and faith-sharing groups. Any chapter could be the basis for a retreat or day of prayer.

– Reviewed by Carol King on Amazon.com


This book is really inspiring, and it’s perfect for Catholics and even non-believers. It gives us all something to ponder – something we all have in common. We eat! But this book helps to realize that what we eat can actually save us! It’s a really great read!
– Reviewed by Joseph on Amazon.com

Connect with Fr. Leo

As always, one of the best ways to keep up with Fr. Leo on his many adventures is on his Facebook page and his Twitter feed. If you have a question or want to see pictures from whatever food he’s cooking or parish he’s preaching at, your best bet would be on social media, so please share with families and friends.

Like Fr. Leo on Facebook and see the many people he meets, like this group out in Rome.

A new place that you can follow Fr. Leo and get great recommendations for places to eat across the world is http://www.thebesty.com/gracebeforemeals, which features Fr. Leo’s ranked restaurants around the world, and will be a great place for him to add more eateries and recommendations to, so let us know where you think he should eat!

Of course, Fr. Leo is on Sirius XM’s The Catholic Channel on his show Entertaining Truth where he co-hosts with comedy writer Tom Leopold, and as mentioned before, you can watch Savoring Our Faith on EWTN Thursdays at 5:30pm EDT. Keep an eye on http://GraceBeforeMeals.com for more news and appearances.

Events all year long

Fr. Leo has been traveling non-stop from place to place for parish missions and events, conferences, pilgrimages, and more, all to spread the Faith and grow the Grace Before Meals movement. Check out his upcoming events at gracebeforemeals.com/events and start reaching out now to book him for Fall 2015 and Lent 2016 before it is too late. God bless!

The Vatican has issued official prayers to the new Saints, Sts. John Paul II and John XXIII. Check them out below (originally posted on Catholic News Service’s blog)

Prayer to St. John Paul II

Oh, St. John Paul, from the window of heaven, grant us your blessing! Bless the church that you loved and served and guided, courageously leading it along the paths of the world in order to bring Jesus to everyone and everyone to Jesus.

Bless the young, who were your great passion. Help them dream again, help them look up high again to find the light that illuminates the paths of life here on earth.

May you bless families, bless each family! You warned of Satan’s assault against this precious and indispensable divine spark that God lit on earth. St. John Paul, with your prayer, may you protect the family and every life that blossoms from the family.

Pray for the whole world, which is still marked by tensions, wars and injustice.

You tackled war by invoking dialogue and planting the seeds of love: pray for us so that we may be tireless sowers of peace.

Oh St. John Paul, from heaven’s window, where we see you next to Mary, send God’s blessing down upon us all. Amen.

Prayer to St. John XXIII

Dear Pope John,

Your simplicity and meekness carried the scent of God and sparked in people’s hearts the desire for goodness. You spoke often of the beauty of the family gathered around the table to share bread and faith: pray for us that once again true families would live in our homes.

With outstretched hands you sowed hope, and you taught us to listen for God’s footsteps as he prepares a new humanity: help us have a healthy optimism of defeating evil with good.

You loved the world with its light and darkness, and you believed that peace is possible: help us be instruments of peace at home and in our communities.

With paternal gentleness you gave all children a caress: you moved the world and reminded us that hands have been given to us not for striking, but for embracing and drying tears.

Pray for us so that we do not limit ourselves to cursing the darkness but that we bring the light, bringing Jesus everywhere and always praying to Mary. Amen.


Fountain Valley, CA 


Sylvania, OH


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Secular Institute Priests: 

News that Feeds

Continuing the conversation from a couple weeks ago about my transition into a Community of Consecrated Life, I wanted to address some of the ongoing question I receive from people who just want to learn more about my new community of Voluntas Dei, a Secular Institute of Pontifical Rite.  



I’ll admit, when I was studying to be a priest I knew little about this priestly option.  And even after I became a priest, it took me several more years to understand the unique richness and diversity of ways people can serve in the Catholic Church.  So hopefully this Q & A e-mail Blast can be helpful and nourishing to your mind and soul.

A young Fr. Leo meeting soon to be SAINT John Paul II in Castel Gondolfo, the Pope’s Summer Residence.

What’s the difference between a Diocesan Priest, Religious Order Priest, and a Secular Institute Priest?

A Diocesan Priest (aka a “secular priest,” oftentimes considered a “parish priest”) serves the local bishop and God’s people within a diocesan boundary (i.e., generally a designated geographical area).  Diocesan priests do not make solemn vows.  Instead, Diocesan priests make promises of celibate chastity, obedience to a bishop, and are also bound to pray the Divine Office in union with the Universal Church.


Most Diocesan priests are parish priests tasked with the administration, spiritual, pastoral, and sacramental care for the local parish needs.  Although some diocesan priests have “special ministries” serving in different settings (teachers, hospital chaplains, central service administration employees, etc.,), they serve according to the needs of the Church and always under the direction of the local Bishop.

Diocesan priests can live in rectories or in private homes, but they do not live a communal life, even though they ought to foster a sense of community and fraternity with other priests and God’s people.  It is normal custom, but not a requirement, that Diocesan priests wear the Roman collar (clerical shirt).  They do not wear a specific outfit such as a habit, religious robes, or a particular uniform.

Since Diocesan priests do not take the vow of poverty they can own property, make extra income, and are required to collaborate with the local diocese in maintaining a professional salary, retirement, and pension.  Diocesan priesthood’s “charism” is in service to the Archbishop and not a particular function or specific service or ministry, although a priest may be given permission to devote his life to a particular type of service, as long as it’s approved by his Bishop.

The Pontifical North American College Class of 1999 with the late soon-to-be- Saint John Paul II, along with then Monsignor, now Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York City (second from the Holy Father’s right side, kneeling)

Religious Order Priests, such as Dominicans, Jesuits, and Franciscans to name a few, generally live in a common household with other members.  They follow a particular regimen of spiritual requirements – a type of “Rule of Life” or “laws” that are formed by their group’s constitution.  They normally wear a distinct religious outfit as a requirement, but always in accordance with the norms and local customs, with some possible exceptions and modifications.

These priests profess vows, also known as the “Evangelical Counsels,” of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience, which they make to the Superior of the community.  They are also required to live and serve with the permission of the local Diocesan Bishop.  In other words, a Religious priest, although not vowing obedience to a local bishop, must always respect and collaborate with that bishop.  Since Religious priests take a vow of poverty, they are required to give their income to the community, which will then provide for all of their needs – food, housing, personal allowance, medical needs, and retirement.

Religious priests follow a “rule” of living set forth by the governing members of the community, requiring them to pray a certain way, live a certain lifestyle, and work in a particular setting according to the charism of the community.  The charism of the community is what ultimately distinguishes Religious Orders from Diocesan priests.

Each religious order has a certain charism.  For example, the Jesuits’ charism, founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola, was to give glory to God and to serve all of the needs of the Pope. Franciscans have a special charism to serve the poor, like their founder St. Francis of Assisi. Dominicans, following St. Dominic, have a charism as The Order of Preachers.

Men become priests in these religious orders because they sense God calling them to work in a specific field, but as you can easily observe in the modern world, Religious Order priests can now serve in just about any capacity as determined by the Superior, and are not just limited to one task or one charism.  Some Religious priests now serve as parish priests, like their Diocesan colleagues.  Ultimately, these Religious Orders are distinguished by their charism, the Rule of Life (or the Constitutions of the Community), the fact they live together in a community, and that they vow to live the Evangelical Counsels of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience to their community Superior.

The Missionaries of Charity Brothers serving in Kolkata, where they care for men dying of AIDS, including the 4 young orphan boys infected with AIDS at birth by parents who died from the disease.

Secular Institute Priests are, in a sense, a “combination” of the qualities of Religious and Diocesan.  Secular Institute priests live consecrated vows, maintaining some characteristics of Religious communities by vowing Poverty, Chastity and Obedience to a Superior (or Director). Institute priests also live by a Constitution or Rule of Life, and have a unique charism that governs the practical work and lifestyle of each member.

In the case of my community, Voluntas Dei has the charism to be like the Virgin Mary at the Annunciation, by saying yes to God’s will.  In its practical charism, Voluntas Dei imitates St. Paul as an evangelizer and missionary, spreading God’s love to people in different circumstances and situations.

Like the Diocesan priesthood, Secular Institute priests maintain a secular character by not living in a community, but rather as serving as spiritual leaven in secular society.  Secular Institute priests must discern whether to live in a small community or to live simply in a solitary setting – but always within the context of bringing Christ’s presence in the secular world.  In other words, Institute priests don’t live separate from the lived reality of the people they serve.  Rather, Institute priests follow the example of the Holy Family and early apostles by living in the world as a consecrated person but not succumbing to worldliness – which is the antithesis of faith.

Although Secular Institute priests take the vow of Poverty, we do not give our income to the community, but rather, we must be completely self-sufficient, to live simply and always within our means, and to be ever mindful of, and actively provide for, the needs of the poor.  Like Diocesan priests, there is no specific religious garb, but we follow the normal local custom.  In my case, I will wear clerical clothing in ministerial settings and always represent the Church as a Catholic Priest.

In Voluntas Dei, the local team/community is required to gather each month for formation.  Secular Institute priests can serve in various settings – some serving in parishes, while others serve in special ministries, and others are called to live a contemplative life.  It is the responsibility of the Voluntas Dei Institute to help each member discern the particular gifts that God has given to each person and to provide community support and spiritual formation in order to fulfill God’s will.   

Posing with Steubenville University students who help lead retreats for high school students. This group is called, “Sent.”

In the coming e-mail Blasts I’ll be sending out more information about my community, and even an invitation to come to a gathering meeting for those who want to learn more about Secular Institutes and my own community, Voluntas Dei.

This form of consecrated life, which falls under the direction of the Pope and the Vatican’s Congregation of Consecrated Life, is a beautiful response to the modern and newly emerging needs in the Church and in the world.  Secular Institutes and other modern spiritual movements have been a very helpful component in keeping the Catholic Faith alive and strong in many parts of the world, simply because it has a mission to use the gifts and talents of the laity to provide a deeper sense of community and permeate the culture at a grass roots level.


In Voluntas Dei, we have the unique charism to foster community among priests, lay members, and even consecrated married couples.  So, if you’re in the Baltimore Washington area and want to learn how to become a member of the Institute, send an e-mail to me at askfrleo@gracebeforemeals.com and I’ll be sure to reach out to you with information on upcoming gatherings.    

With Students at Lake Catholic High School in Ohio, where I gave a talk at an assembly to help the students celebrate Holy Week and prepare for Easter.

Let us Pray:

 Lord, as we continue to celebrate the great feast of Easter, may we experience a great sense of “mission” to spread the Good News in the world – everywhere and with everyone!  May this season of celebrating life give us a great awareness of Your love and mercy, and help us to live according to Your plan. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen. 




  • What is your favorite religious order, and why?
  • If you could create your own religious community, what would be your primary work or charism?    
  • Have you ever thought about being part of a spiritual community?  If so, which one?  And if you haven’t yet joined one, what’s stopping you? 

Your comments and questions are an important part of sharing our message and our meals.  Please leave your comments below.

Click the image below to Get your SIGNED COPY of 

Fr. Leo’s latest book, Epic Food Fight: A Bite Sized History of Salvation


Warwick, RI

Fountain Valley, CA 
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Inspired Cookies for a 

Christian Kitchen

As we approach the most Holy Three Days, called the Triduum, I want to reoffer recipes from the CRS Rice Bowls – perfect for Good Friday. Actually, they’re perfect for any day of the year.  

Click to watch Fr. Leo’s Appearance on NBC 4 in NYC.

Along with this recipe, I want to share a faithful foodie cookie idea families can share with children. It came from one someone who attended one of my parish missions. 

St. Timothy Parish Mission – So blessed that our parish missions fill up the churches, making the pastors very happy.

Because I don’t have an exact resource, I want to clearly explain that I didn’t create this recipe. I’m just sharing this recipe with you with great inspiration. In my opinion, inspiration is one of the most important ingredients in cooking. 

I’m always happy when the camera crew lines up to eat the food I cook for different food news segments.

As you and your family participate in the holiness of the liturgies that lead to Easter celebrations, I pray you will always remember how much God loves you. His love will feed you – body, mind, and soul. This food ought to inspire us to live our lives following Jesus to Heaven.  

Icon of the Last Supper.


This Week’s Recipe: 
Photo from http://foodfaithfellowship.blogspot.com/2011/04/resurrection-cookies.html

The Catholic Review:

Let us Pray:

God of love, give us the Grace to see how the liturgies of Holy Week inspire us to anticipate with great joy the Easter mysteries.  May we be patient with those who may come to church out of obligation or may not fully understand the spiritual depth of these celebrations.  May our joyful presence, non-judgmental faith, and sincere prayers be an inspiration for all Christians and people of good will to live as a peaceful human family.

The Garden of Gesthemane, Jerusalem.



  • What will you cook during these upcoming holidays?
  • Do you have a special Easter recipe with a story that you can share?
  • Did you use any of the CRS Rice Bowl recipes?  If so, which did you enjoy the most?

Your comments and questions are an important part of sharing our message and our meals.  Please leave your comments below

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Posted April 10th, 2014 | CRS Rice Bowl, In Memory, Menu Inspiration, Recipes

Brussels Sprouts and Culinary Conversions

We apologize for the blast being a day later than usual; we have been in mourning since the passing of Project Manager Joe Hansbrough’s father, James D. Hansbrough Jr, husband to Maria Hansbrough for over 38 years, father of nine children, and grandfather to seven grandchildren and counting. He died of a heart attack on Monday unexpectedly. According to Joe, he was instrumental in making sure that Grace was said before every meal and that the Faith was instilled in his children. We ask you to please keep him and his family in your prayers in this time of grief. You can view his obituary HERE. Thank you.




Last week I had the chance to cook Brussels sprouts for Gus Lloyd, the host for the popular morning show, “Seize the Day” on Sirius XM Catholic Channel 129.  He was known for sharing on air his anti-love for Brussels sprouts or as he would call them, “those little horrible critters.”   (Gus is so nice, he would never use the word “hate,” so in my mind, Gus felt “anti-love”).


Since I was in the Tampa area, where Gus hosts his show, I accepted his invitation to join him live in studio. At the same time, I gave give him a chance for a culinary “conversion” by cooking him Brussels sprouts. I vowed that he would LOVE the way I prepare these little “gifts of God.”


Gus Lloyd live on radio, staring at his former food enemy, Brussels sprouts, presented two ways and served with pan-seared chicken.

He sampled the Brussels sprouts LIVE on his show.  And, as expected, loved them!  A miracle and conversion occurred before his listening audience!  Because so many people asked for recipes I’ve copied them below for you to enjoy.

CLICK for recipe: Brussels sprouts and Granny Smith apple slaw.
CLICK for the Recipe: Pan-seared chicken served with two preparations of Brussels sprouts, including a bed of braised Brussels sprouts with bacon and balsamic vinegar reduction.

In this time of Lent, we are asked to experience a deeper conversion.  That can only begin when we are willing to have an honest and sincere conversation. We need to truthfully admit our feelings, while also being brave enough to try a different approach (or in Gus’s case, a different recipe). Jesus did that quite a bit, leading many sinners to conversion. He ate with them.  He showed them the Father’s love using different language, telling stories and ultimately sacrificing himself.  He didn’t approach faith like the “experts,” which for him was the scribes and the Pharisees who imposed burdens, not blessings.  He definitely presented the message of God’s love in a different way.  Now, we must be brave enough, like Gus Lloyd, in eating the Super Food that Jesus gives to us: His Body & Blood and his sacred teachings.  


Procession of the Blessed Sacrament at the Jacksonville Eucharistic Congress.

Gus Lloyd had a “conversion” because he was willing to have a conversation. He admitted some of his past prejudices from bad Brussels sprouts experiences.  But he was also courageous enough to give this former food enemy another try in a different way.  Hopefully, in this season of Lent, we can do the same with people in our lives.  With honest conversation and courage, we can get over our prejudices, our past bad experiences, and reverse our “anti-love” for one another.  Conversion begins with an honest conversation with God, called prayer.


Shrine dedicated to praying for those who suffer with cancer, at the Assumption Church in Chicago, IL.


Let us Pray:

Father, may we experience an ongoing conversation with You in prayer, which will lead to a conversion of Heart.  Teach us how to get over negative experiences of our past. Give us courage to be open enough to trying those things which we know are good for us – such as healthy food, exercise, forgiveness, patience, serving the poor, learning more about faith, and praying more faithfully. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Seminarians for the Diocese of St. Augustine Florida. These men all know the need for ongoing conversion in their life as future priests.


  • How do you prepare Brussels sprouts?
  • Is there a food that you need a ‘culinary conversion’ for – i.e., a new way to try something you don’t like to eat?
  • Is there a “spiritual food” that you may have a prejudice against (ie., fasting, church’s moral teaching, praying the rosary, meditation) that you need to have presented to you in a different way so that you may better appreciate the spiritual foods of the Church?


Your comments and questions are an important part of sharing our message and our meals.  Please leave your comments below.


This Week’s Lenten Recipe from CRS Rice Bowl:
Visit crsricebowl.org for more on Fr. Leo and 
CRS Rice Bowl Global Kitchen: For Lent, For Life
Fombell, PA
4/12/14 – 4/15/14
Brunswick, OH
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Posted in CRS Rice Bowl, In Memory, Menu Inspiration, Recipes | 5 Comments »


News Feed!

Remember the video, when I asked for prayers about a discernment decision regarding my application to a religious community called, Voluntas Dei, a Secular Institute of Pontifical Rite? Well, I have some news for you.


On the feast of St. Joseph, I received official word that I have been accepted as an aspirant member to the Institute!  That means that for the next several years – 7 years to be exact – I formally continue discernment and formation in the life of this unique community.  The community’s charism is dedicated to saying “Yes” to God’s will, especially in the efforts of evangelization.

Stopping by the youth group gathering for a recent mission for St. Timothy Catholic Church near Tampa, Florida.

This impacts my day-to-day priestly responsibilities, and I know many people may have questions about what this all means.  So, for the next two email blasts, I will have a few Q & A’s about this transition. 

 I hope these informational blasts (i.e., news feeds) will help answer your questions as we continue our work to give good news (i.e., evangelize) that truly feeds your soul!

Will I still be a Catholic priest?

OF COURSE! I will remain a Roman Catholic Priest in good standing in the Roman Catholic Church.  I love my priestly vocation and seek only to be a better priest by trying to live out the calling that God has given to me. So, do not worry. Voluntas Dei is a type of religious community with status as a “Pontifical Rite,” meaning it is approved by the Pontifical Council for Consecrated Life, i.e., a commission established by the Pope according to official Church Law.


One of the families I met at the Jacksonville Eucharistic Congress for the Diocese of St. Augustine Florida.

How did I make this decision?

I have been thinking of Voluntas Dei since 2002 when I first met one of the Voluntas Dei priests serving in one of my parish assignments.  He had a silent but profound influence on my spirituality and my understanding of the Church and the different forms of priestly ministries.  I first approached my bishop in 2007 about my desire to discern Voluntas Dei, the same year I was asked to be on faculty at the seminary.

When the assignment at the seminary ended in 2012, I immediately engaged the discernment process with the Voluntas Dei community.  Now, after 15 years of Diocesan priesthood and over 7 years of active discernment, I am very grateful to have received the permission of the Archbishop and the acceptance as an aspirant member of Voluntas Dei Institute.


I was also welcomed as a member of Chefs for Peace – a group of Christian, Jewish and Muslim chefs who work together to bring about peace through the gift of food.

Where will I live?

Baltimore is home for me.  It’s where I grew up, where I was ordained. Here, I’m close to my family and close to my community of priest friends, and of course, it’s the home of Grace Before Meals.  Me and another Voluntas Dei priest will also be organizing the local monthly “group/team meetings” which will be open to any person seeking to learn more about the spirituality and community life of this Secular Institute of Pontifical Rite.  You’ll read more about that in upcoming email blasts.

While I am based in Baltimore, my work requires me to travel a lot, similar to St. Paul –  a missionary preacher. Actually, extensive traveling priestly ministry is what I’ve been doing as a Baltimore priest with the blessing of the previous Bishops for the past several years. Now however, all of my apostolic activities with Grace Before Meals, including giving missions, presentations, cooking demonstrations, retreat leadership, classes, and talks, will all be under the direction of Voluntas Dei and with the approval and blessing of the Superior/Director.


Me with Host Nicki Mayo for “The List” – Check out the video here.

What will I do now that I’m an aspirant member of a secular institute?  

My primary work will be to lead the apostolate of Grace Before Meals. I’m so grateful that the Institute finds value in this unique priestly work!  I will also be organizing “The Table Foundation” which will serve as the nonprofit charitable component of Grace Before Meals. These duties will be coordinated through a new Catholic Media and Marketing Group called, Messenger Eagle Communications, which produces the efforts of Grace Before Meals and other dynamic Catholic resources.

While serving in the field of evangelization, I will also be going through personal and group formation with Voluntas Dei.  Each month, our community gathers for ongoing formation by learning more about the writings and teachings of the founder, Fr. Louise Marie Parent.  As a community, we will deepen our theological awareness of Catholic Church Teachings, while building a true sense of charity and fraternity among our members. Above all, we dedicate our lives to praying for the Holy Spirit’s guidance so that each of us will know and follow God’s unique will for us.


This t-shirt says a lot about the work of Voluntas Dei – to pray as if everything depended on God!

More to Come:

We make our news feeds short because we know it’s hard to handle a lot of information all at one time. I’ll be sending out more bite sized pieces of information in future email blasts to keep explaining this new vocational change for me and what it means to be a Secular Institute Priest.  I’ll even send out invitations by Facebook and Twitter  for those who may be interested in learning more about this community.

For now however, please join me in prayer of thanksgiving for this great opportunity to serve the Catholic Church as a priest in the Secular Institute of Pontifical Rite.  Please know that I’m grateful for your support, and I pray that this news will feed your soul.

This young man says that he enjoys my TV show, Savoring our Faith, on EWTN each Sunday @ 5:00pm EDT. He asked me to cook for him one day, but I’m sure I’ll have to cook much BIGGER portions!



Let us Pray:

God our Father, You call us to a renewed life in the Spirit, to serve You according to Your unique plan, and according to the unique gifts that You have given each of Your children.  May all take up the great work to discern God’s plan in their life, and may they recognize and receive how God gives them strength to follow His Will in Christ, who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen. 



  • Have you ever considered becoming a member of a religious community – whether as a priest, lay person or even a married couple?
  • Do you have questions about Voluntas Dei, a Secular Institute of Pontifical Rite?
  • How do you know if something is God’s will for you?  

Your comments and questions are an important part of sharing our message and our meals.  Please leave your comments below.

If you’re in the Baltimore/Washington area and would like to learn more about Secular Institutes, please contact me at askfrleo@gracebeforemeals.com.

This Week’s Lenten Recipe from CRS Rice Bowl:
Visit crsricebowl.org for more on Fr. Leo and 
CRS Rice Bowl Global Kitchen: For Lent, For Life
Yorba Linda, CA
Fombell, PA
4/12/14 – 4/15/14
Brunswick, OH
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Any submissions may be used in future Grace Before Meals publications.

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