On occasion, our Grace Before Meals movement will send out some “Blasts from the Past,” not only because the messages are still relevant today, but it also helps us remember how far we’ve come!
Grand Opening: St. James Coffee Shop!
Take a look at this blessed an unique coffee shop in Rochester MN. Yes, there is a Eucharistic Chapel and yes, they are cheaper than Starbucks!
Having just returned from another Steubenville Conference in Rochester MN (truly fantastic once again!), I thought this would be a great time to promote the opening of a great new Catholic coffee shop called St. James Coffee, complete with a Eucharistic Chapel and good coffee to boot…and it officially opens today! Check out my tour of the place and if you are up in Rochester MN, be sure to stop in for more than just a good cup of Joe, but the Grace of God. The perfect place to share Grace Before Meals!
Want an Odd Job Assisting Fr. Leo?
Don’t worry, it is not that odd! Fr. Leo and the GBM team are looking for young adults with a culinary background and missionary-hearts living in the Baltimore area to potentially assist with the cooking at events in the future. As we seek to create the best presentations and demonstrations possible, there is much work that needs to be done at each event, so your help could make a big difference. The position is not regular, but does offer payment. If you are interested in this opportunity to help Fr. Leo with food preparation at different events, please send your resume and information to firstname.lastname@example.org. Think of it as a cool and helpful way to gain culinary and spiritual training!
Coming Home 20 Years Later!
Originally posted November 12, 2008
A few weeks ago, about 50 “ young” men returned to their alma mater for their high school reunion. I wanted to stress “ young” because I was one of them!
We celebrated our 20 year Mount St. Joseph high school reunion. It was strange to walk through halls where I once wandered aimlessly as a lost freshman, where friends played practical jokes on each other, and where I was yelled at a few times by teachers. We celebrated on the grounds of the newly constructed sports stadium with homecoming victories over our rivals in football.
For a few hours, several of my classmates shared life updates, visited old classrooms, marveled at the new structural additions, and most importantly, remembered moments that made high school more than just a building. In that brief reunion with my former classmates, I must say that it was good to be home.
Students at Mount St. Joe are referred to as “Mount Men.” Our patrons are St. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus, and St. Francis Xavier, the founder of the Xavarian Brothers, the order of religious brothers that staffs this school and many others around the world. The Mount “Tower,” part of the original building, still remains a focal point for the modern campus. It is a symbol of what each Mount St. Joe student is to exemplify – a strong, enduring, visionary beacon for the community and world. Even though none of us former students would have admitted it 20 years ago, we were all very proud to be a part of the Mount family.
Looking back, I realize the high school years can be some of the most challenging for young people. It’s a time of internal conflicts: bodies (and hormones) develop at an unbelievable pace, but limited psychological and life experiences prevent teens from fully understanding these inevitable changes. As high school students, we wanted to be treated as adults, yet we tended to act like unruly kids. Change occurs so quickly that some teachers hardly recognize students after a summer of growth spurts. Parents marvel at how clothes sizes change as dramatically as voices drop from tenor to squeaky baritone. The amount of transformation that occurs in a young person during this time requires the watchful eyes of faithful teachers. Change can be good, if we change into something good . Therefore, teachers must see that their objective isn’t simply to educate students so they can graduate. Teachers must see their vocation as vital assistance to parents in the formation of these children through academics, virtue- based development, and by sharing the gift of service with others.
Thank God for good high schools like Mount St. Joe, a place where the Brothers, Priests, and lay teachers watch, guide, and care for students as they would a brother or son. As parents entrust children to these institutions for about 8 hours daily, school should be an extension of the family. At the Mount, we are a large family of brothers. Granted, it isn’t perfect, but what is perfect this side of Heaven?
During the reunion, I was so proud to learn that from a class of about 200 men, three of us became Catholic priests and one non-Catholic student was ordained as a Protestant Minister. Many of my classmates are now working in secular industries. Some serve in the military, in manual labor, as doctors, lawyers, real estate agents, and a handful are fire fighters. Classmates spoke lovingly about their wives and how proud they were to be fathers. It did my heart good to see how one guy who arrived after the opening speech and prayer bowed his head to offer Grace before he ate his meal. I was even more honored to celebrate the Mass for several of my classmates, many of whom expressed their congratulations and prayerful encouragement of my work as a priest and as host for the Grace Before Meals movement. Some were surprised to learn that I entered the seminary only six years after graduating high school.
The homecoming reunion weekend at Mount St. Joseph made me reflect on the importance of religious orders that focus on the education of young people. We need more teachers who see that educating young people is more than a job, it’s a calling from God. We need more high schools that challenge young people to grow, not just in body, but in mind and spirit. We need families to ensure that what young people are learning in high school are life lessons and not just useless facts. Too often we hear stories of teachers who use the classroom to indoctrinate students in relativistic tendencies, to question authority (especially legitimate religious authority), and who try to convince children that opinion is fact
These problems in high schools are very real. What is necessary to make certain high school becomes a good foundational experience for young people? The parent, the primary educator of the child, who talks with sons and daughters about what’s being taught in school. And after all, the best place for home schooling is the kitchen table.
After 20 years, it was wonderful to see a good number of us Mount Men, some prodigal sons, return for this special homecoming. We may not have had a fattened calf prepared for us, but we did feast on four years of memories. And at Mass, the greatest learning institution in world history, we celebrated the fact that we were more than classmates; we were students of truth, children of God, and brothers in the Lord .
A Mature Palate! Vitello ai Funghi – Veal and Mushrooms.
20 years ago, I never thought that I would become a priest, and I had no idea that food would become such an important part of my life. 20 years ago, I don’t even think that I could grasp a concept that combines priesthood and food .
Recently, I had an opportunity to be a guest on the show Franciscan University Presents where we discussed that very unique combination of theology, food, faith, and family.
In the discussion with Fr. Michael Scanlon and Dr. Regis Martin, the concept of maturity in regards to faith and food was presented analogously. We can’t appreciate certain theological concepts or even certain foods as children, because we have not yet grown up. 20 years ago, I would have never thought that I could ever enjoy a pan-seared slice of veal with a wild mushroom sauté. For me, pizza and nuggets were all I needed. On occasion, I eat foods that young people enjoy, but I definitely changed in that I would much rather have something fresh, with more veggies, and bold flavors that doesn’t require ketchup . Perhaps, moms and dads can make this very mature meal for their young high school students as a way to test the maturity of their palate. I can tell you, we didn’t get this in our high school cafeteria. At that age, I don’t think we’d even know what to do with it .
Please click here for the recipe.
Being back at my old high school forced me to examine how much I’ve grown up. I did some pretty stupid things as a youngster , from which I have learned many lessons , especially through the act of confession. I’m still learning some of those lessons. One thing I’ve learned for sure, even after 20 years, Mount St. Joseph is still like a home. The priests, brothers, and teachers of my alma mater made sure the students were raised to be men who would continue to be true gentlemen and lifelong students – always learning, always growing!
Let us Pray:
Father, high school can be a tough time for young people. We pray that all involved in educating high school students can do so with patience and familial care. Give to the students a desire to learn and the motivation to grow. Protect them from harmful things that can destroy a young person’s future, even his or her life . Give to parents the grace to be patient with young people especially by helping them to remember, they, too, were young once . Let’s not forget to pray for the entire staff – the lunchroom crew, the janitorial staff, the coaches who urge us to victory, and even the bullies who hopefully grow up in life. And Father in Heaven, during the month of November when we remember the faithful departed, grant to all our teachers who have died eternal rest . Amen.
This was Brother Donald, the MSJ Librarian. In all four years of HS, this man was the only one who gave me detention for talking too much in the library. We miss you!
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