Diocesan News

‘Grace Before Meals’ Author to Cook at Camp Kateri Event

(SNR) - Individuals, couples and families are invited to a delicious meal and presentation by noted cookbook author, television guest and speaker Father Leo Patalinghug.

The Diocese of Lincoln’s Camp Kateri Tekakwitha is hosting the event Saturday, Feb. 2, at Stone Creek Event Center in McCool Junction. Mass will begin at 5 p.m., immediately followed by Father Patalinghug’s cooking demonstration and the meal.

As director of Camp Kateri, Father Thomas Kuffel, who also serves as pastor of St. Patrick Parish in McCool Junction and St. Stephen Parish in Exeter, is always trying to come up with a new way to provide spiritual sustenance to the people of the diocese. Now, with the help of Father Patalinghug, he’s found a way to provide food for the body as well as food for the soul.

Father Kuffel’s initial goal was a Lenten program, but then he recalled that seminarian Eric Clark had mentioned that cookbook author and speaker Father Patalinghug was a professor at Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., where many seminarians of the Diocese of Lincoln attend.

"I thought it would be a good idea to bring him over," Father Kuffel said.

Father Patalinghug’s cooking skills earned him some fame when, in 2009 he beat world-renowned celebrity chef Bobby Flay in a steak fajita cook-off televised nationally on the Food Network’s "Throwdown! With Bobby Flay." He is the catalyst behind an apostolate called, "Grace Before Meals." The idea is to bring families back to the dinner table to share a good meal, "bring God to the table" via prayer, and communicate so that each member is nourished, body, mind and soul.

"In my experience, nothing creates a better environment for a great conversation than time shared in the kitchen," Father Patalinghug has said.

Father Patalinghug’s apostolate closely matches the goals of Camp Kateri, and Father Kuffel hopes that couples and families from all over the diocese will reserve seats for the Feb. 2 event.

"We’re just trying to make people aware of making good meals, family togetherness, and learning to recognize you can pray during your meals," Father Kuffel said.

Father Patalinghug will prepare an Italian favorite, Penne alla Vodka, as he shares spiritual insight with the audience. Meanwhile, the Stone Creek staff will be preparing the same recipe in larger quantities so that everybody can enjoy Father Patalinghug’s classic recipe.

Born in the Philippines and raised near Baltimore, Md., Father Patalinghug did not develop an affinity for cooking until he was attending the seminary at the North American College in Rome.

Savoring the good meals at local Italian restaurants, he persuaded the restaurant owners to come back to the seminary’s student kitchen to teach him cooking secrets. He is happy to be able to combine his love for cooking with his ministry as a priest.

His first cookbook, "Grace Before Meals," is a collection of 30 recipes that are fairly easy to prepare and relate to personal milestones, family events and holidays. Each recipe includes Scriptural references and short essays about faith, values and family togetherness.

This year, Father Patalinghug is releasing a new cookbook focusing on married couples. "Spicing Up Married Life" has 12 "date night" meals for couples to make throughout the year as late, one-on-one meals after the kids are in bed. Each chapter includes lessons from Father Patalinghug to learn and grow together, questions to encourage deeper discussion, and special prayers.

Father Kuffel welcomes, "anybody who would like to explore their faith, have a good meal, listen to Father prepare a meal and enjoy fellowship" to the event. There is seating for 400 at the Stone Creek Event Center, and the only price is a free-will offering.

To make a reservation, contact Father Kuffel at (402) 540-3124 or call Stone Creek at (402) 724-2235 and ask for Shelly.

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