What began as a joke in the kitchen will become a published cookbook this fall and a cooking television series next fall, said Father Leo Patalinghug, the break dancing, martial arts guru, who also happens to be skilled in the kitchen.
The media project, “Grace Before Meals,” aims to bring families together around the table, said Father Leo, a priest of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, who recently was appointed to serve as director of pastoral field education at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md.
Although there is an undeniable novelty about watching a priest hosting a cooking show, Father Leo said what is most important is the actual “movement” to get families to come closer together. The cookbook and the show are simply the vehicle to make that happen and to “strengthen families,” because families are the “domestic church,” he said.
The show, in which the priest will visit families and cook with them, will potentially air on PBS next year if the production company is able to find enough sponsors, said Father Leo, who stressed family meals as a necessity to the integrity of the family.
“It’s a movement before a TV show. It’s God’s movement to bring God’s family to His table,” said the energetic priest.
The cookbook, which is in its final editing stages will be published this fall. Each recipe is linked to a feast day in the liturgical year, a family milestone or even disappointments. Cooking gives families a reason to come together, said Father Leo.
I have tried to have our family eat together as a family as much as possible. As children become teens, it is harder, but the kids know it is a priority to maximize the number of knees under the dinner table. Missing the family meal is the exception rather than the rule. Even when the children were very young and I worked full time we would eat together as a family. The meals were prepared quickly and utilized a lot of convenience foods, yet they were still family meals. It meant our dinnertime was later than the average American family but it also meant that we had our family time together as well. And that family time always included prayer. It may have just been a quick “Bless us, O Lord…” Still, we established the pattern of always including God in our family gatherings.
I remember when a girl my daughter’s age stayed with us for a week. The girls were around twelve at the time. Both of her parents were busy attorneys. Our guest commented that she could not remember when she had sat at the table and eaten a meal so many times in a row. I read recently that many young couples don’t think buying a kitchen table is a necessity. Their first furniture purchases are a bed, a sofa, and a television.
You can find out more about this family strengthening television show and cookbook and how you can support this project here and here.