Announcing Something New


For today’s Solemn Feast of the Annunciation, we recognize that God so loved the world that He sent His only Son into the world.  Because of Mary’s “yes” to the Archangel Gabriel’s invitation to be the mother of God Most High, we now have the feast of feasts – 9 months later – called Christmas!  This “announcement” of something new, inspires our Grace Before Meals team to do some new things as well.

Here are some highlights:

(1)  Next week you’ll see a new format for the email blasts, including a new “splash page” when you log onto Grace Before Meals.  Be sure to check it out next week.  We will continue to host the same dynamic content connecting food, faith, family and fun, but with a slightly new look.

The young man to my left is considering studying for the priesthood.


(2)  We continue to partner with other evangelization groups, such as for their #ShareJesus Project during this Lenten Season.  Be sure to check out the last video I did with them, where I compare a resurrected body versus the body of a zombie!

(3)  CRS Rice Bowls was an important part of our Lenten Journey.  As we come to the close of the Lenten Season, we realize the our compassion doesn’t end, but takes on new meaning. Consider making these meatless dishes throughout the year.  They’re not only delicious, but it will remind of the powerful connection we have with people around the world – especially those who need our help throughout the year. Click HERE for the recipe.

Fried Plantains with Beans from Democratic Republic of Congo | CRS Rice Bowl's Global Kitchen
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(4)  While we’ve taken trips around Europe and even in the United States, we’re proud to bring you a trip to Spain – a country filled with a dynamic history, a mystical faith tradition, and known for their international cuisine.  Currently, we are offering a $200.00 discount for those who register before May 1, 2015! If you want a life changing experience and travel to Spain with me and Patrick Coffin, call Select International today at 800.842.4842 and speak with Susan.

(5)  Last week, Grace Before Meals took a new step in establishing our non-profit outreach called, “The Table Foundation: Elevating Culture and Family Life, One Meal at a Time.”  We had our first board meeting with people across the country and we are excited to take next steps. To learn more, visit the website and prayerfully consider how you can get involved.

Our celebration today changed world history.  God doesn’t want us to “stay the same” but to be constantly trying to improve ourselves, our relationships, and to improve our ability to love and serve God and each other.  We hope you hear that invitation from God and announce the Good News to all!

The Parish Mission at St. Michael’s Parish in Livonia, MI. How exciting to fill the church with people seeking a renewal of faith!


(1) How did you celebrate this Annunciation Feast Day?

(2) Is there anything “new” that you can do to serve God better?

(3) Did you learn any new recipes from this Lenten Season?

Let us pray:


Father, we thank you for Mary’s yes to the Archangel Gabriel.  May we experience grace from this Feast Day and allow God’s love to touch us and heal us.  May the reality of God becoming man be a sign for us to live more like Jesus, who touched people’s hearts and feeding their hungry souls.  Bless us on our remaining Lenten journey.  Bless our Grace Before Meals team with zeal to do something dynamic and new for your kingdom. We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.


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Jacksonville FL
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Posted March 18th, 2015 | CRS Rice Bowl, Lent, Video
Menu Inspiration:

Feeding the Hungry with Goodness


Grace Before Meals makes every effort to work with other groups to feed the hungry.  That’s why it was a pleasure to work with Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl Program.  Filming the recipes and sharing the message about the countries that benefit reminds me of the power of food and the much needed efforts of our Grace Before Meals Movement.  With the CRS Rice Bowl Program, you can address the hungers of the body and for the soul.  I hope you you’re enjoying these recipes and the videos.  If you’ve not had a chance to cook these up for your family on a Friday, then cook it any day of the week!  They’re delicious any day of the week!

Fattet Laban from Lebanon | CRS Rice Bowl's Global Kitchen
Fattet Laban from Lebanon – from Fr. Leo & CRS Rice Bowl’s Global Kitchen
Recently, Grace Before Meals had another opportunity to take our message internationally.  We collaborated with the US Ambassador to the Holy See, Ambassador and Mrs. Hackett. Along with the Chef Matteo, one of the staff for the Embassy’s diplomatic core, I cooked a meal to support a religious convent that helps victims involved in human trafficking.  We cooked a meal for these young women and their children – a small gesture – but one filled with God’s love.

Click to watch video with US Embassy
As we approach the remaining weeks of Lent, consider how we can feed the hungry in our world. When we feed others, we experience a fulfillment in our soul.  We really experience the satisfaction with God’s love.

Good News about our Trip to Spain with Catholic Answer’s Patrick Coffin.  There will be a $200.00 discount for all of those who register before May 1, 2015.  Call now 800.842.4842


Let us pray:


“Father, give to us the grace to feed the hungry in our world.  Help us to hear the cries of the poor.   Teach us ways to keep the Christian message in our hearts so that we can fill the hungers of others.  Bless the work of CRS Rice Bowl Program and the US Embassy to the Holy See efforts to assist those victims of human trafficking.   May the remaining weeks of Lent be a time of inspiration, mercy and compassion.  We ask this through Christ our Lord.”

Upcoming Events:
Livonia MI
Jacksonville FL
Check out all of Fr. Leo’s upcoming events by going to
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Posted March 11th, 2015 | CRS Rice Bowl, Food for Thought

Food For Thought:

Marching As Sinners with St. Patrick

I’m feeling very Irish!  Perhaps it’s because I’m finishing up a parish mission at St. Patrick’s Parish in Colorado Springs, CO.  It’s also because St. Patrick’s Day is around the corner and  Cardinal Dolan’s decision to allow a “gay group” to march in the St. Patrick’s Day parade has brought about a lot of criticism and a media firestorm.  But, I wanted to offer a perspective, simply because on that day, we should all be Irish.  In fact, I change my name that day to Fr. Lee O’Patalinghug!


What a great t-shirt from St. Patrick’s
Colorado Springs, CO

Kidding aside, this touchy subject requires some pastoral sensitivity.  Without trying to defend or criticize Cardinal Dolan’s decision, I must say his decision made me reflect on my pilgrimage to heaven – my personal “march” so to speak.  However you feel about the Cardinal’s decision – right or wrong – it should make us all reflect on what it means to walk in a parade named after a saint – a great Saint – like Patrick.  It can’t be limited to Irish descent, but a universal calling to holiness.


I love the fact that my parish missions draw out the young and the old. This little guy reminded me of a little leprechaun. So joyful and full of life!



We have to remember that Church and Catholic things (like a march) isn’t for perfect people who are sinless.  We’re not a “hotel for saints” but a “hospital for sinners.”  Everyone who marches in the St. Patrick’s Day parade is not showing off their holiness or virtue.  Instead, they should walk to show how they want to become saints, despite their sins – no matter how public or private their sins may be.  I realize that is not the intent of the gay group.  But it should be ours, true devotees to St. Patricks.

Walking, eating, teaching and praying with public sinners is what Jesus did.  Maybe this parade can be an opportunity for Catholics to show the world that we’re not afraid to walk with sinners. This could be an opportunity for a real conversation to occur about this topic.  We can use this moment to proclaim that no matter what our sins, the Catholic Church is trying to walk with us to become saints in heaven – as long as we’re walking in the right direction.  Who knows, by walking along side authentically joyful Irish Catholics, some of those “sinners” may find their way to heaven.  But between now and then, an opportunity to walk is really an opportunity for us to talk!


Cardinal Dolan with a group of pilgrims in NYC


Our modern world has so many ways to communicate.  But compassion, charity, forgiveness and mercy means that we have to walk the talk.   I pray this St. Patrick’s Day parade, even if it’s filled with sinful people, can be an opportunity for everyone to be less judgmental, more compassionate, and more loving as Jesus would love us.  That starts by our willingness to walk a mile in another person’s shoes.  That’s how Jesus did it.  That’s what Saints are willing to do.  This St. Patrick’s Day Parade, I pray that our feet do the talking.


Click HERE for an easy Corned Beef and Cabbage Recipe!



Food for Thought


(1) How will you try and walk the path of holiness on St. Patrick’s Day?

(2) What’s your favorite St. Patrick’s Day meal?

(3) How do you show mercy, love and compassion to people who (by their own decisions) feel marginalized from the Church’s loving embrace?

Questions:   Please leave your comments and questions HERE. Your responses help guide us in our future email blasts.  Thanks for joining in the conversation.

Let us pray:

The Prayer of St. Patrick



I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me;
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s hosts to save me
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a mulitude.

Christ shield me today
Against wounding
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through the mighty strength
Of the Lord of creation.

 Upcoming Events:

Grand Rapids MI
Cleveland OH
Livonia MI
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Posted February 26th, 2015 | CRS Rice Bowl, Lent, Prayers

CRS Rice Bowl Week 2 Recipe:

Gallo Pinto from Nicaragua

How has Lent been going for you so far? Did you have success making last week’s CRS Rice Bowl recipe, UGALI WITH BEAN SOUP? Even after just one week, many of us likely have experienced some adjustments, but stay the course, as your Lenten journey is just beginning and we have many more days (and recipes) to go through.
This week, watch the latest CRS Rice Bowl Global Kitchen episode where I cook up GALLO PINTO, a special rice and bean dish from Nicaragua. You can also click HERE FOR THE RECIPE. Let us know how easy (or hard) this recipe is to make, and share your experience of cooking it, whether it is for you, your family, or those in need.  God bless!
Gallo Pinto from Nicaragua | CRS Rice Bowl's Global Kitchen
Click to watch how to make Gallo Pinto from Nicaragua, courtesy of CRS Rice Bowl’s Global Kitchen and Fr. Leo.

Calling all chefs and faithful foodies! 

EWTN will be filming episodes of Savoring Our Faith with Fr. Leo in Dallas (May 4-6); Baltimore (June 15-18); Chicago (October 4-6); and the Cleveland OH area (November 7-11).

Fr. Leo recently connected with groups in the Philippines after his last call out to find places, thanks to you. Can you help him stateside?

Each show will feature a religious site, a local restaurant with a great story to share, and a cooking segment.  We need your help!  We’re looking for suggestions on religious sites, restaurants and names of possible culinary assistants. Please comment below and email with your suggestions, and we will look to be in touch with you soon.

Let Us Pray:

(Prayer for 21 Coptic Martyrs)
“Eternal Father, as Your Son spoke to us ‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,’ grant unto your Coptic Martyrs repose for their souls, and Your gift of eternal salvation. May their witness stir our hearts this Lent to live in true charity even in the face of persecution by our enemies, and to boldly witness to our faith in our day-to-day actions.  May the enemies of our Christian faith encounter Your Truth, be converted as was St. Paul, and cease to persecute Your Body, the Church. May we remember in faith You ‘make all things work for the good’ and for Your glory, through our Lord Jesus Christ, your son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.”

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Posted February 18th, 2015 | CRS Rice Bowl, Menu Inspiration, Video

CRS Rice Bowl Week 1 Recipe:

 Ugali with Bean Soup from Tanzania

LENT is here, and my video, as part of the #ShareJesus campaign, kicks off this forty-day journey! Redeemed Online is seeking to bring brief videos and guidance from a number of speakers, including Mark Hart, Leah Darrow, Fr. Mike Schmitz, and more straight to your inbox each day in Lent. CLICK HERE to read more. You can sign up for #ShareJesus here!

#ShareJesus Video 1: Ash Wednesday- the shocking good news

It would be silly to think that we can get all the religion and holiness we need in just 40 days of Lent. But it’s a good start.  A good and holy life requires just that: an entire LIFE!  These 40 focused days of prayer, fasting and almsgiving are reminders of Christ’s suffering and the suffering of Christians and innocent people around world.  In the midst of the economical challenges, weather-related problems, promotion of dysfunctional relationships in movies and music, and of course, the Muslim extreme terrorist groups who are making new Christian Saint martyrs by their hate-filled religious ideas, it’s helpful to take this focused time of compassion to better understand and follow the heart of the True God – who feeds, comforts, and heals.  The ‘god’ who creates fear, division, and war reveals how Satan, the anti-Christ, is alive and well. In these 40 days, we enter into the desert with Jesus and do battle with the devil.  But, our weapon of choice is restraint of our passions and unleashing the Holy Spirit that gives us Joy!


Winning over souls requires joyful people who are joyfully in love with Jesus

So, today and for the next 40 days CELEBRATE your faith.  That means, live it joyfully!  An authentic practice of our faith doesn’t indoctrinate or force a conversion of people. That’s what the Muslim terrorist groups are doing.  Instead, truly celebrate your faith in Jesus joyfully.  In this way, as Pope Francis reminds us, we will win many hearts for the Lord – the true God and giver of Life!


Recently, the US Ambassador to the Holy See invited me to his home, with a few seminarians from the Pontifical North American College, after a day of cooking for a religious home that cared for women and their children involved in human trafficking.

To help you celebrate in this Lenten Season, consider these internationally inspired recipes from the CRS Rice Bowls.  The food is tasty and the recipes are easy enough to follow.  You can even switch it up a bit for your family’s mealtime needs.  During dinner, be sure to have conversations about the country and the people who inspire these CRS Rice Bowl Global Kitchen recipes.  When we dialogue and have healthy conversations with people, we experience conversions.  Yes, conversations lead to conversions.  In this 40 days of Lent, begin an authentic conversation with God (called prayer) and see who the Lord will bring to your table and next mealtime celebration.


Click to watch how to make Ugali with Bean Soup from Tanzania, courtesy of CRS Rice Bowl’s Global Kitchen and Fr. Leo.


Food for Thought:

(1)  Have you ever made a CRS Rice Bowl Recipe?  Which is your favorite?

(2)  What’s your favorite go-to-Lenten-Friday recipe?

Please offer your comments below as they help us and our community continue the Grace Before Meals conversation.  Be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.  Consider bringing Fr. Leo and the Grace Before Meals message or some of his other fantastic presentations to your parish, clergy convocation, or keynote event.  Click here for booking information.

  Let Us Pray:

(Prayer from the Ash Wednesday Liturgy from the Roman Missal)

“Grant, O Lord, that we may begin with holy fasting this campaign of Christian service, so that, as we take up battle against spiritual evils, we may be armed with weapons of self-restraint.  Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.”


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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

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 in CRS Rice Bowl, Culinary Confessions, Easter, Lent, Menu Inspiration, Prayers, Recipe, Restaurants, Restauraunt Reviews, Video | No Comments »