Posted December 31st, 2014 | Audio, Entertaining Truth, Feast Days, Holiday, New Year


Happy New Year to you & your loved ones

May your celebration of this New Year, and the Holy Feast Day of Mary, Mother of God, be a time of grace and joy!

For the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, I once again share my rendition of “Ave Maria” that I sang for the 2015 Entertaining Truth Christmas Radio Show on Sirius XM 129, the Catholic Channel. The Ave Maria is my prayer that each of you discover her motherly love and that we become more like her Child, Jesus our Lord!

Let us Pray:

God, thank you for a new year. May everyone in our family be willing to begin anew with a clean slate. We know that you are always ready to forgive us. Help us to be willing to forgive ourselves and to forgive one another.

As we begin a new year, remind us of our truest values and our deepest desires. Help us to live in the goodness that comes from doing what you want us to do. Help us to put aside anxiety about the future and the past, so that we might live in peace with you now, one day at a time.


Spaces are running out! Click the link to register for an incredible trip to Spain: 

Like us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterView our videos on YouTube
Any submissions may be used in future Grace Before Meals publications.

Posted in Audio, Entertaining Truth, Feast Days, Holiday, New Year | 7 Comments »

Frying Rice & Grilling Ray Rice
Click for my Grandfather’s Garlic Fried Rice Recipe.

To cook fried rice well, allow it to dry by keeping it in the refrigerator, uncovered.  Drying the rice is essential before attempting to fry it in oil, whether using sesame seed or peanut oil.  Add the right amount of seasoning, choice of meats, veggies and viola – you have the perfect fried rice. The variety of flavors and ingredients is your choice, but let it dry out first. If you avoid this step, you will get a clumpy and greasy mess.

Due to the popular demand for this once-in-a-lifetime trip, Fr. Leo and Gus will be adding a second bus. Register now for this incredible trip!
This cooking tip has been helpful for me as I try and figure out my thoughts regarding Ray Rice.  [Yes, I make food connections with just about everything.  That’s just how my mind works, ok?!?] The incriminating viral video of the popular football player physically knocking out his then-fiancée-now-wife in a hotel elevator is a horrible display of ugly anger. The world wide attention and insipid commentaries is just as ugly.  What we have here is one big mess!
Former Baltimore Raven Ray Rice and his wife Janay during the press conference following the arrest.
Unfortunately, some of the comments show parallel impatience of people trying to fry rice without first drying it out. In other words, the people making useless and judgmental comments are skipping an important step:  patiently discerning when to “cook” Ray Rice, his life and his career.
Patient discernment would first make us consider the following questions:
– “What were they arguing about that would make a public figure lose his temper to the point of violence?”
– “Is there a double standard because Ray Rice is such a popular person?”
– “What can we say about how his wife seemed to be the aggressor before she became the victim?”
– “What did his parents teach him about respecting women?”
– “Would the manly-minded feminist rights movement find my last question offensive, implying that women can’t take care of themselves?”
Further, I’d like to know, “Who appointed the National Football League as the arbiter of moral judgments over a couple’s personal relationship?”
You see, it’s all so confusing, and there are more questions than answers.  In other words, when we make quick judgments over this type of news story, are we being impatient in our fact finding?
Other questions have to be asked:
“Why did his beaten fiancée marry her attacker?”
“Is love so blind or willing to forgive their enemies and persecutors?”
There’s more to this story than a sports figure.  This spectacle speaks to our humanity and how we deal with our relational struggles.


This is the LAST week, so click for information and call now to reserve your spot for this extraordinary food and wine retreat.
Frying rice and grilling Ray Rice require a similarly delicate process of patience and discernment.  Let me be clear, what Ray Rice did is horrendous;  the fiancée should have seriously reconsidered marrying him.  And yes, all of the media’s talk about this topic is just nauseating.  Yet, these sensitive topics provide an opportunity for people to talk with God in prayer before posting uninformed opinions on the internet.
I’d recommend that families, especially children who are sports fanatics, talk about these issues without trying to give an “easy answer” or a decisive judgment.  If we try to bypass the step of patient discernment, we will just get a mess on a plate.  We will get what we deserve.

Let us pray:

Father, we pray for couples experiencing challenges. We pray for an end to domestic violence and for more patient discernment as we try to use these news headlines to educate our children about the real meaning of marriage.  Keep us focused on the grace and not the “train-wrecks” of society, lest they become the only model of relationships that unfortunately form our conscious.  Help us to remember how your Son Jesus gave us the perfect example of what it means to love one another, without violence and always with forgiveness.  We ask this in His most holy name.  Amen.

Jesus came to forgive us our sins.



(1)  How are you using this headline news to teach your children?
(2)  What advice would you give to anyone experiencing domestic violence?
(3)  Do you think that men are a “stronger” gender, and how does that affect the conversations about women’s equality?
(4)  Do you have any other fried rice tips?
We appreciate your responses. Please leave your COMMENTS HERE.





Sioux City, IA 

9/20/14 – 9/22/14




River Falls, WI


Like us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterView our videos on YouTube
Any submissions may be used in future Grace Before Meals publications.

Posted in Dinner Discussion, Entertaining Truth, Grace Before Meals, Recipe | 2 Comments »

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 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


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

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, 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 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 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


Like us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterView our videos on YouTube
Any submissions may be used in future Grace Before Meals publications.

Posted in Entertaining Truth, Epic Food Fight, Prayers, Savoring Our Faith, Video, What's On the Table | 1 Comment »

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 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 
Like us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterView our videos on YouTube
Any submissions may be used in future Grace Before Meals publications.

Posted in Entertaining Truth, Epic Food Fight, From the Feedbag, In Memory, Prayers, Video | 2 Comments »