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.”

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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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Posted January 14th, 2015 | New Year, Pilgrimages, Video, What's On the Table

 What’s On the Table for the New Year


First, allow me to do some bragging as a proud uncle!  As some of you may know, my nieces and nephews have have a pop singing group. They’ve grown up, and so has their talents and sound.  They have been recently picked up by a popular music agent from London, and their collaboration seems to be very promising for a successful music career.  I’d like to share with you a video from their group:  JAGMAC (the Letters of their first names in order from youngest to oldest).  I think you may enjoy this upbeat song, and perhaps even share it with the teenagers in your life.  Our world needs more musicians like my nieces and nephews who seek to put out a popular sound with a positive message.  So, allow me to brag and allow yourself to enjoy the music.  And please, share this link with the young music lovers in your life!
Watch the awesome video by my nieces and nephews, JAGMAC.
As you know the Holy Father is making his way to the Philippines, my home country!  Yes, I was born there and moved to America with my family when I was 2 years old. But, keeping the traditions of the Philippines has given me a healthy sense of what it means to be an American Filipino.  You can watch all about the visit, hear me on the radio, and watch me on TV as I’ll be doing some interviews with Sirius XM 129 and some feature pieces and interviews for EWTN.
(Yes, that’s my picture with the EWTN Banner)


Originally, I was going to send you a blast with my Top 10 favorite travels and food experiences of 2014.  I’m still going to do that. I promise!  But, this week’s busyness, travels, jet-lag, multiple news segments and filming for my own TV show has kept me from writing that special commemorative 2014 Blast.  But, it’s coming soon.
(Me with some of my guests for the Savoring our Faith TV show from the Philippines. Chef Matthew and Chef “Dimples” and I cooked all of that deliciousness for just one episode!)
But, for now I’d like to just offer the reminder of a few things that are happening with Grace Before Meals:
(1)  The trip to Spain has opened its registration. Spaces are limited so call 800.842.4842 and ask for Susan to reserve your spot.

(2)  Savoring our Faith is filming season 4, and we’re traveling across the country and around the world highlighting how faith, food and culture make for a great show. Please keep us in prayer.
The Culinary Assistants from my filming in Arizona.
(3)  Here’s a list of places where I’ll soon be traveling. Hope to see you there.
January 29- Pittsburgh, PA (Legatus presentation)
January 30 – Pittsburgh, PA (Catholic Schools week presentation & Spicing Up Married Life)
January 31-February 4 – Appleton, WI (Parish Mission and Super Bowl cookout)
February 6-16- Trip to Rome to visit North American College & Vatican Embassy
February 19- Naples, FL (Faith and Ale & Faith and Wine Presentation)
February 20- Tyler, TX (Why the Cross? Conference)
February 21-24 – Cary, NC (Parish Mission and school presentation)

Let us Pray:


Father, as the Pope makes his way to the Philippines, grant to him good health and safe travels. May he be an ambassador of peace and justice to the world, as he reaches out particularly to the poor and needy.  Keep our family of faith together through communion, and help us to bring others to Your Table.  Amen.
(1)  What do you think of my nieces and nephews’ music group? Please share the music video with the young music lover in your life.
(2)  What exciting news do you have coming up in your life?
(3)  What was the best thing you ate in 2014 that you still remember even today?
(Of course, I’d have to do a “falsie” – fake selfie! But praying to have a chance to see him up close. Stay tuned!)

Please leave a comment below and be part of the conversation.



1/9/15 – 1/19/15


Any submissions may be used in future Grace Before Meals publications.

Posted in New Year, Pilgrimages, Video, What's On the Table | 3 Comments »

Safe Travels & Feast Day Foods

As Fr. Leo continues his retreats and travels, our team at GBM wanted to share a prayer for travelers as the summer vacations roll on and the school year approaches. With special intentions, we pray for those who are away from loved ones that they may return safely.

Dear God, we ask you for your blessings and protection on all those who are traveling, whether for business, for vacation, or for other personal reasons. We trust in your will, and hope that our loved ones may return to us safely and in good spirits. For those who have lost loved ones, we pray for their consolation and that they may find their hope and joy in you. Finally, may they be fed in body, mind and spirit on their journeys, so that they may be nourished and able to do good in this world. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Fr. Leo during his travels in the Southwest during a retreat. For more pictures, videos, updates, check out Fr. Leo on Facebook, Twitter and on!

Interestingly enough, there is a book on EWTN’s website called “Feast Day Cookbook” by Katherine Burton and Helmut Ripperger, published in 1951. Today is the Feast of the Transfiguration, and the recipes they share for today’s feast include Pilaff and a Spiced Grape Jelly. Be sure to check out the link for more recipes and neat information on Feast Days and meals, as feasting is an important part of the Catholic faith, the Grace Before Meals movement and cookbook.

Click to read this classic Catholic cookbook, courtesy of EWTN.

[Excerpt from Feast Day Cookbook]

August 6: Feast of the Transfiguration

The origin of this Christian festival has been attributed to Saint Gregory the Illuminator who flourished in Lower Armenia during the fourth century. He is said to have substituted it for a pagan feast of Aphrodite called “Vartavarh” (the flaming of the rose) and the old name was retained, in that region at least, to designate the Transfiguration, because “Christ opened his glory like a rose on Mount Thabor.”

In Armenian villages the day is still celebrated with unusual ceremonies in the course of which peasants lead to the church a sheep with decorated horns, on each tip of which is placed a lighted candle. Flowers, fruit, and sheaves are also brought and laid before the altar.

Following this ceremony a fair usually takes place; there are races and games, and a crown of roses is the customary prize. During the feasting that follows is likely to appear.

3 cups cracked wheat
6 cups stock
4 cups minced cooked lamb
1/2 cup melted butter

Soak the cracked wheat (cracked barley may be substituted) overnight. Drain the wheat, mix with the meat, and salt to taste. Place in a large kettle, add about half the stock (water and bouillon cubes may be used, allowing one cube for each cup of water), and heat slowly. Cook for about an hour, stirring almost constantly and adding stock as necessary. Serve in hot, deep plates, pour melted butter over each serving, and dust with pepper and cinnamon to taste.

The Feast of the Transfiguration was slower to be observed in the Western Church and is not mentioned until the ninth century. It was made universal by Rome on the day when Hunyady gained his victory over the Turks on August 6, 1456. It is now the titular feast of the Church of St. John Lateran, and on this day the Pope presses a bunch of ripe grapes into the chalice at Mass or uses new wine.

Also in Rome raisins are blessed on the Feast of the Transfiguration, and the Greek and Russian Churches too conduct a special ceremony for blessing grapes and other fruits. Since the grape is given so much prominence on this feast, we may give the following recipe:

Spiced Grape Jelly
8 lbs. Concord grapes
2 sticks cinnamon
2 cups vinegar
1 tablespoon whole cloves

Wash, remove from stems, and drain the grapes. Put half of them in a preserving kettle, add the vinegar, cinnamon, and cloves and then the rest of the grapes. Cook gently for about fifteen minutes or until soft. Strain through a jelly bag without pressing so that the juice remains clear. Take 1 cup of sugar for each cup of juice, boil to the proper consistency for jelly, pour into hot glasses and cover with 1/2 inch of paraffin.

Do you have any recipes or adventures to share?
Are you or a loved one traveling, and if so, where to and for how long?
Any recipes that you like to make on feast days?

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Posted July 2nd, 2014 | Pilgrimages, Video, What's On the Table

Family Summer Fun and Faith

 I’m heading out to my second Steubenville Conference, this time in Nova Scotia (!), but I wanted to share some videos and suggestions for improving family life and opportunities for growing in your faith together as a family. There are so many ways to strengthen the family, which is what Grace Before Meals is all about. Regular family meals are only the beginning to spending more time with your kids, spouse or loved ones. Praying together more often, being involved with your church or community, taking time out of your busy schedule to let others know that you here for them are all vital to bringing home the faith, and making your family the “domestic church”.

My friends Greg and Jennifer Willits, of The Catholics Next Door fame, have a video they just created for The Archdiocese of Denver to provide tips and resources (which you can get at to strengthen your family, and you got it, family meals are very important. Watch the video below and start using some of these tips to let those you love know just how much they mean to you. And that includes God.

Greg and Jennifer clearly had fun making their kids help them make this video. Click to watch.

Another great way to grow in your faith with friends and family is to host a special Spiritual Event to share the film The Blood & The Rose with your community. The film is a powerful documentary that really shows the incredible history and undeniable miracle of St. Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Patroness of Life.  The 225 is a celebration of the 225th Anniversary of the nation’s first Catholic Diocese, which is Baltimore. To celebrate, Leo McWatkin’s Films has created a special package which includes the film, video reflections from me and Fr. Steven Roth, 20% of merchandise sales, and promotional materials to help communities and organizations raise money for their cause while evangelizing, all for $525. This is half as much as it normally costs, which means you will be able to raise even more money for your cause, parish or group.

It is as simple as purchasing the license agreement by going HERE and setting up an event at your parish or school. The goal is to feature it in over 225 locales this year, so please promote this spiritual event to your parish priests and committees, as it truly serves as a way of growing in your faith.

Finally, family vacations are a great way to take time out of work and to spend it with your kids and spouse. It may seem like a lot of stress (and it is) but it is truly a great way to be present for your kids. Not everyone can afford the luxury of a vacation, but as long as you break away from your computer or TV long enough to communicate with your family, it goes a long way in helping them to grow in love and faith.
For those who may not have the kids at home anymore or are just looking for a great adventure to go on, please consider coming with me to Napa Valley (November 9-14, 2014) or The Holy Land (February 1-12, 2015). Registration ends soon for Napa Valley, so sign up today! And the Holy Land will be here before you know it, so check it out and let me know if you have any questions by leaving a comment HERE or emailing me at



  • What do you like to do over the summer with your family?
  • Have you seen The Blood & The Rose
  • Do you have a cause, event, group or parish that could benefit from a spiritual event?
  • What are other ways to make your family the ‘domestic church’?

Please post your comments HERE, as these help our movement learn and grow.  





Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia

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God Is (Isaiah 12:2)

God is. Simply put, to say the least. But what a big statement! What, or more accurately, who is God to you? There is no answer that can encompass the entirety of God, for He is entirety and then so much more. But the Prophet Isaiah has a pretty good answer for us to consider:


Watch the promo video for Steubenville Youth Conferences 2014

I will be at 3 Steubenville Youth Conferences this year, and as you may have guessed, the theme is “God Is”. This weekend, I will once again be going to Steubenville On The Bayou, at the Houma Civic Center in Houma, LA, then I will be at Steubenville Atlantic (in Canada) (7/4- 7/6/14) and Steubenville Main Campus 5 (7/18-7/20/14). And what wonderful opportunities to come together with so many young people ready to be set on fire with love for God in their faith.

I will be giving more than giving a talk, but will also be leading the entertainment like last year, and am looking forward to the fun waiting to be had. More than just talks and musical performances, there is a true unity felt among the crowds of young people and adults, all brought together in the love of God.

The theme of “God Is” should provoke you to think about what that means to you. Is it a statement, or is it the start of a sentence? Even the most devout would benefit from seeking to find out more about who God is in their lives. I highly encourage you, your children or any young person you think would benefit from the experience to try and make it out to one of these conferences. There is a full listing HERE.

The third episode for Epic Food Fight: Fr. Leo makes Blessed ‘Milk & Honey’ Salad

Also, you can check out my Epic Food Fight video, preparing Blessed ‘Milk & Honey’ Salad by clicking the picture above. Check it out and let us know what you think! Finally, I want to encourage anyone interested in joining me for pilgrimages to Napa Valley (11/9-11/14/14) and the Holy Land (2/1-2/12/15) to register soon. The deadline for Napa Valley is July 7, so call Corporate Travel Service at 313-565-8888 x 122 to register today.

I’ll hope you are excited for the journey ahead to seek who, what, or that God is. God is.


  • What does the Steubenville Conferences’ theme “God Is” mean to you?
  • Have you been to a Steubenville Conference before? How was your experience?
  • Have you ever engaged in a conversation about who God is with a non-believer? What happened?

Please post your comments below as these help our movement learn and grow. 


Let us pray:


God, may we come to seek you are in all things, for you are all that we desire and you provide all that we need. May we trust that you are here with us always, and that you know what is best. May we surrender our hearts, our fears and our ambitions to you, so that you may do with us what is most pleasing to you. We love you always, and ask your blessing on all people, whether young or old, rich or poor, big or small. May many come to love you more through these conferences and in the work we do for your glory. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.  

This Week’s Recipe:




6/27/14 – 6/29/14




Houma, LA

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