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Faithful Foodie: Reunion with Friends Through Food!

Posted: June 29, 2016 | Author: Fr. Leo

This past week, I went to my class reunion of the Pontifical North American College, this year held in San Diego, California. Food played a powerful part of this year's joyful gathering.

I am standing next to newly ordained priest Fr. Cory Tufford (Diocese of San Diego) and PNAC's new rector, Fr. Peter Harman (Diocese of Springfield IL).

As you can imagine, we gathered around food, just like we did so many years ago when we were young seminarians. Here in San Diego, the influence, flavors and sounds of Mexico helped make our first day very special.

Our opening reception featured Mexican Tacos and a Mariachi Band!

As always, we gathered for daily Mass. Certainly, the spiritual food of the Eucharist satisfied our bodies, while learning about Saint Diego, founder of California Missions, became another source of spiritual nourishment during our theological lecture. Interestingly, Saint Diego evangelized in a way near and dear to my foodie sensibilities: he shared in the work to produce food, teaching the indigenous people techniques to sustain farms and crops, and most importantly, he ate with the people and the Native American families he sought to serve and welcome into the Catholic faith. 

 Alumni North American College priests after the Mass in the Mission of San Diego Chapel.

Finally, during our visit to San Diego, I took a brief side tour and investigated the local food scene. Through some very positive Yelp reviews, I went to Ocean Pacific Grille.  There, I met the Chef, Charles Andres, who's putting the Philippine Cuisine on a higher level of refinement and service at his very popular restaurant. I sampled a few of the small plates and was quite impressed. 

Featured are the Longaniza Fried Balls and the garlic chicken wings. These were delicious!

Providentially, I also showed up a few days before his 1 year anniversary and even offered a short blessing upon the restaurant. Like many chefs who work difficult hours, Chef Charles works very hard to carve out time for his family. The blessing I gave was first for his own family and growing sense of faith. Secondly, I prayed for the success of his restaurant. As I said, I was quite impressed. If you're ever in the trendy Gas Lamp District of San Diego, be sure to sample all of the unique and elevated flavors of Filipino food at Ocean Pacific Grille.

Like every good Filipino household, the decor requires an oversized fork and spoon!

This past reunion reminded me that food brings us together! I hope you have a chance to taste and see how Jesus wants to reunite with your family - through food -  to bring you into a communion with God and our heavenly family!

Let us Pray:

Father, bless my Alma Mater, the North American College in Rome.  Bless all of those who, in this summer season, will experience a reunion of family and friends. May this time be blessed with the bounty of food on the table and the spiritual nourishment of family and friends around it. Keep us all close to you, assuring us of the reunion that never ends in heaven. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Food for Thought:

(1) If you were to go to your next class reunion, would people recognize you? Who would you most look forward to seeing?
(2) If you could pick a menu item to help you remember your Alma Mater, what would it be and why? For me, it would be spaghetti carbonara!
(3) Have you ever had Filipino food?  What's your favorite? Mine has to be my mother's pancit!