Posted April 30th, 2007 | Events, Food for the Soul

First, sorry for taking so long to blog! I’ve been kinda’ busy moving from here to there.

This past week I had the privilege to visit the Sophmore Class of Kennedy Catholic High School within the Diocese of Erie, PA. It’s my second visit to this fantastic High School. Our theme of the Retreat was keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus. The 70 young people seemed to enjoy themselves and I sure had a great time with them! We prayed, had some sharing opportunities; I did two presentations, offered Mass and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. There were several priests who came to assist with confessions as well as faculty members to lead small groups. It was a great day!

While I was there, I had the opportunity to visit with Fr. Stephen Schreiber, the chaplain of the HS and classmate of mine from the North American College in Rome. Fr. Schreiber also treated me to a local restaurant for some great food! Here’s my review of the Springfield Grill Restaurant off of Perry Highway in Mercer, PA.

The Springfield Grill is owned and operated by the McKinley Family. They own several other restaurants in the area, each with a different venue. This particular restaurant had a well appointed and attractive dining room that had at least 20 tables of 4 seats. The cherry wood and red stained leather made you feel like you were having a meal in a classy English Hunter’s Lodge. Each wall showcased hunting and nature scenes. However, one wall in particular stood out from the rest! Fr. Schrieber and I couldn’t help notice the largest picture in the corner of the main dining room. It was of a woman who had her back to us, looking in the mirror, and laying down. Not so bad? She was also nude! So, visible to the viewer (patron) was her bare back side and the reflected image of her grimacing face in her hand held mirror. Boy, did we blush! We were told that corner table was the most popular in the house. Huh? I wondered if I would be able to stomach my food if I sat there.

But, being good priests, we focused on the more important things: FOOD! I sampled the House Speciality Appetizer, Turtle Soup. It was a thick and flavorful chili-type recipe which had (I was told) over 90 ingredients, including the meat of snapper turtle. Although I found it a bit too sweet, more than likely by the tomatoe puree or paste, I thought it had a nice flavor, and the combination of turtle meat and chicken gave the appropriate balance to take away the gamey flavors of this somewhat tough dark meat.

I also sampled this PA version of a Maryland specialty, Cream of Crab Soup. It was a much lighter broth than I was used to and I thought it could have used a little thickening agent, such as a roux or heavy cream. But the flavor was mild to showcase the backfin crab meat, which was well apportioned for a cup.

One of the main couse specials was a surf and turf – medallions of filet mignon and peeled shrimp topped with “blue fire” – a combination of blue cheese, cream and tobasco sauce. That added a nice kick to what could have been a “typical” surf and turf platter. By the end of the meal, I didn’t have much room for dessert, as travel always takes away some of my appetite. But, then again, it could have been that particular painting. At the end of the meal, our very polite waitress provided us with a very reasonable bill and the Hostess also gave us 2 certificates for a free appetizer or dessert, simply for my being a guest for the first time. I assure you, it was a fine restaurant and I hope not my last visit. Afterall, I have a certificate for a free menu item! But, now I also know where NOT to sit!

On the following Saturday, I made my way South to Arlington VA for a conference given to a group of Filipino American Catholics who are training to be lay ministers in their local parishes. It was hosted by the Arlington Diocese’s office of multicultural affairs. This group of dedicated Catholics came for a morning to get to know each other better, to learn more about the ways they can serve the church and, most importantly, to get to know Jesus Christ! Although I was a bit tired from my previous trip, and I really don’t like the congestion and traffic in that area (even on a Saturday morning), I was so pleased to see a group of people who want to serve the church! God Bless you all, and I’ll do my best to get the audio of my presentation on the website!

Peace!

Fr. Leo

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Posted April 29th, 2007 | Audio

Click Here to hear the audio from Vocation Sunday.

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Posted April 25th, 2007 | Past Emails

Click Here to check out this weeks email blast.

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Posted April 21st, 2007 | Events, Food for the Soul

I had the opportunity to accompany the Vocation Director for the Archdiocese of Baltimore to visit a seminarian from my parish at his college seminary in Providence, Rhode Island. He and another Baltimore seminarian (actually a Hagerstown local) were adapting (actually thriving) quite well in college seminary life. It was such a joy to see them both.

As college candidates, they do not yet wear the Roman Collar until they enter major seminary. It’s actually quite a BIG DEAL putting on that Roman Collar for the first time. I look forward to that day when the Roman Collar will be associated, not just to our elder brothers who have given years of experience to the priesthood, but also to the young men who are “old enough” to be Fathers in Faith. In other words, I look forward to the day when people will see that Priesthood, like Fatherhood, starts at a young age!

We took a quick 48 minute flight to Providence. Two priests in Roman Collars walking onto a plane is quite a site! People could use this scenario as a “bar joke.” You may have heard me speak about my Roman Collar plane experiences before, but put two of us together and it’s a whole different ball game. Needless to say, much attention was given to us, especially since we sat at the emergency exit row!

The same was true for our ride home. But this time, Fr. Jerry and I sat between two young women, both of whom had Catholic upbringing and are still practicing their faith in beautiful ways. It’s truly amazing to see what the “sign of faith” can do for people. The Roman Collar speaks volumes!

One of the young women had a prayer she kept in her binder, which she shared with me – obviuosly because I was a priest. She prayed this prayer before her exams (which she passed – congratulations!). It was a beautiful, heartfelt and sincere prayer for personal growth in God’s peace. Hopefully she will share this prayer with others, whether they have a Roman Collar, Religious Habit or not. The prayer reminded me of St. Francis. Remember, his humble presence, perhaps like the Roman Collar, can speak volumes to a world that’s so hungry for religious “signs” from God!

St. Francis would say, “Preach the Gospel at all times. If necessary use words!” Fr. Jerry and I didn’t say much in the airport. We kept to ourselves and chatted – we’re great friends. But, the fact that we both had on our Roman Collars drew attention and reminded people (and reminded us) that God is in our midst. All that because of a white piece of plastic around a black collar shirt.

Peace

Fr. Leo

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Posted April 18th, 2007 | Past Emails

Click Here to check out this weeks email blast.

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Posted April 17th, 2007 | Events, Food for the Soul

In the wake of the tragic Virginia Tech shootings, I would like to offer prayers for all of those who were killed, their families, those who were hurt, and for every member of that community who are now feeling confused and lost.

As the facts continue to be collected by the proper authorities, I also pray they will be given guidance and resolve to make sure that such tragedies can be prevented in the future.

These are difficult days, and moments like this are difficult to comprehend. The signs of the times are showing that change (conversion) is necessary for every human person in our world. Evil is real. We need to protect ourselves from it and confront it so that it does not “take control” over the hearts and minds of people. One aspect of evil is to force people into fear. In this recent tragedy, I can understand people feeling afraid. Again, that’s what evil wants us to experience.

Therefore, our only “weapon” against this fear and evil is faithful prayer. May I consider asking each family to add a special prayer at the time of their Grace Before Meals? Can each family pray for the faithful departed? Perhaps we can also pray for Mercy for the World, especially as we continue to celebrate the Graces of Divine Mercy Sunday (April 15). Here is a simple prayer to include at the end of the prayer:

“May the souls of all the faithful departed, through the Mercy of God, Rest in Peace.”

OR

“For the sake of His Sorrowful Passion, Have Mercy on us and on the whole world.”

Once again, prayer is our only defense in the face of such tragedy, as prayer will motivate us to show compassion to all of those (especially at VA Tech) who are suffering.

Peace.

Fr. Leo

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