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!  We will also take this opportunity to review some of our upcoming events and opportunities to join the movement!

What's New

New look for “Grace Before Meals” Website!

Savoring Our Faith

God has blessed us with much growth and direction in recent years, so be with us as we seek to grow our movement further and reach more families with great recipes, events and inspirations. Come July, you will notice a new look for gracebeforemeals.com which we think you will like. So stay tuned and get ready for this exciting new direction.

Savoring Our Faith

Tell us what you think about “Savoring Our Faith”!

The first season of our TV Show is almost over and we want to know what you thought about it. Your reviews and feedback will not only be appreciated, but taken very seriously as we consider ways to improve the show for next season.

So tell us your ideas for making our show even more entertaining and engaging. Do you think we should have more guests? Is there a recipe you would love for Fr. Leo to make? Let us know by leaving a comment and be sure to reach out to EWTN at viewer@ewtn.com and let them know that you want to bring Fr. Leo back in “Savoring Our Faith”.

New Foundation and New Book On The Way!

We are working hard to build a new foundation (literally) which will help us to make a bigger difference in this world by giving back to the community and showing them the importance of the family meal. It will be Grace Before Meals…but on a grander scale! So please keep us in your prayers as we seek to do more good in this world for those who hunger for it most.

And of course, our new book, Spicing Up Married Life is shaping up nicely and has some delicious recipes and fantastic lessons for any couple to learn, as we aim for a September release (we mean it this time!). Take a look at one of the recipe previews here:

What's New

Fr. Leo will be the featured speaker at a number of upcoming events, including:

June 3: The Copper Ridge Institute Fundraiser @

Black Ankle Winery in Mt. Airy, MD

June 8-9: 2012 Eucharistic Congress for the Archdiocese of Atlanta @

Georgia International Convention Center 2000 Convention Center Concourse College Park, GA 30337

2012 Atlanta Eucharistic Congress


Blast From The Past: Swan Song

Originally sent May 6, 2009


Food for the Body

Check out these beautiful pastries, and especially the little swan-shaped pastry made by Luke Suarez, a seminarian from the Diocese of Bridgeport.

These were part of the dessert selections offered after the seminary’s closing banquet, which we celebrated last Friday.  This final celebration, known as “Deacon Night,” is an opportunity for the Deacons to offer their “swan song.”

(On the last day of class, instead of wearing the normal uniform of the black shirt and Roman collar, these guys wore the Pre-Theology uniform of a white shirt and black tie.)

(On the last day of class, instead of wearing the normal uniform of the black shirt and Roman collar, these guys wore the Pre-Theology uniform of a white shirt and black tie.)

And what a swan song it was!

The appetizers made by the current third-year class, the dinner, the desserts, as well as the toasts and speeches were all just beautiful.  I only wish all of the GBM subscribers could experience the joy and enthusiasm of these men called to serve as priests.  But at the same time, there is also a sober reality of sadness to say goodbye. The reality is we unfortunately won’t see many of those men again.  Even though there is always hope that that our ministries will cross paths, our busy lives will make it very difficult to spend time together.  How they say goodbye is obviously an important part of this closing banquet.

Perhaps one of the things I’ve learned after 10 years of priesthood (which I know isn’t that long compared to many of my dedicated brother priests) is that our whole lives should be a preparation for that “swan song” we will all have to sing one day.  In other words, how do we say good-bye?  Whether it be to an institution like the seminary or the last memorable words of someone dying, like Jesus’ last seven words, depends on how we lived our lives!  Swan songs are more important than we think!  In fact, our lives could be so much better if we prayerfully considered our temporary existence.  We would be encouraged to make each day count – to make sure we live our lives enjoying God’s blessings, while seeing the trials not as devastations but as lessons and challenges (in some cases, serious challenges and very difficult lessons).

Some of the members of the first-year Pre-Theology Class – wearing the proper uniform.)

(Some of the members of the first-year Pre-Theology Class – wearing the proper uniform.)

I realize talking about saying good-bye may sound out of place, especially since we’re in the middle of the spring season when we’re supposed to say hello to new life.  But for the men here at Mount St. Mary’s, while they say hello to summer, they must say good-bye to their friends – men with whom they have studied, grown, and prayed with for four, sometimes six years (depending on their course of study).  How do we say good-bye to these people?

Because it’s hard to say good-bye so definitively, we say things like, “Let’s keep in touch”, or “We should plan on getting together,” or simply “See you later.”  That should be true for all swan songs!  There is an innate desire for good friendships and relationships to never end.  And, so in faith, we can legitimately ask, “Why should these good relationships end?”

(These are some of the seminarians who will leave Mount St. Mary’s and attend the North American College in Rome – my alma mater.)

(These are some of the seminarians who will leave Mount St. Mary’s and attend the North American College in Rome – my alma mater.)

Throughout this Deacon Night Banquet, a “last supper” of sorts for these departing seminarians, we heard many toasts and best wishes.  And because these men are seminarians (and they believe it), they also concluded with promises to pray for each other.  Assurance of prayer is the most honest way of saying “we’ll keep in touch!”  Praying for each other must be part of the swan song, because only in prayer can we have any hope that we will ever really see each other again . . . in heaven.

Grace Before Meals tries to encourage people to say a few little prayers together as a family before you eat.  That prayer brings us into a holy communion with God and each other.  And since God is eternal, so our relationships are called to be!  Granted, while these men will hardly spend as much quality time together as they did in their years of formation here at the seminary, these men are called to spend quality time united together in prayer, no matter where they are called to serve.

In prayer they can sense a unique “closeness” to their friends, family, and even deceased loved ones.  That’s what prayer does!  In other words, while everyone will sing a swan song, God has the last word.  And God’s last word is always an invitation to eternal life!  God’s word is never a definitive good-bye.  It is always, “Until we meet again in heaven,” God willing.

Please pray for these men.  Pray that their friendships formed here will continue to be a source of strength and encouragement for them in this difficult, but beautiful vocation.  Pray that they will never cease to pray.  Pray that their swan song will always end with, “In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen!”

Food for the Body

Swan-Shaped Pastry Puff!

I was so impressed with the seminarians who hosted the appetizers and post-banquet desserts.

(These are some of the seminarians who will leave Mount St. Mary’s and attend the North American College in Rome – my alma mater.)

(Luke from Bridgeport and Jason from Arlington.)

I was especially impressed with their ideas to make simple desserts into tasty treats with a beautiful presentation.  So instead of a new recipe this week, I’d like to share their idea on how to make cream puffs into a beautiful swan design.

(These are some of the seminarians who will leave Mount St. Mary’s and attend the North American College in Rome – my alma mater.)

Click Here for the Instructions for Swan Shaped Pastry Puffs with Cream

Food for the Soul

It’s easy to say we will try and connect with good friends and family.  I’ll admit, I’m not the best at calling my own family, and with my busy schedule it makes it difficult to drive the distance to visit them as often as I would like.  It takes great discipline and dedication to make sure we do stay in touch, as a way to encourage us along our pilgrimage way.  Even though I may not call home as much, I do pray for my family often.  As such, we do stay together, as the rhyme about praying together has proven.  As these men leave the seminary, please join me in praying that these friends, now brothers in Christ, will continue to encourage each other.  Although this past weekend they sang their swan song for the seminary, we really know that in prayer, faith, hope, and love, we’ll stay close to each other.

Let us pray: Jesus Our Savior, help us to rely on Your goodness and strength to help our relationships grow stronger in the bond of love.  Keep our family and friends ever close to Your care.  Bless these men, leaving the seminary, who will become priests in Your church, so that they will lead Your people as loving spiritual fathers.  We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Posted in Blast from the Past, Past Emails, Prayers, Savoring Our Faith, Special Religious Theme, Spicing Up Married Life, What's On the Table | 5 Comments

5 Responses to “Blast From The Past: Swan Song”

  • Dear Father Leo,
    Thank you so much for your wonderful show, “Savoring Our Faith”.
    My husband & daughter love the food network, and being a half Italian family we love our meals, so having your show to watch has been a wonderful way to bring our passion for food and our faith together! We love the guests you have on, and especially love how you weave in the connections of food & faith and lessons you offer. Your upbeat personality is a joy to watch and the messages & nuggets of truths you offer really minister to us. If time would allow, we would love to have more of that in your show, possibly even having your guests join you in the segments where you are sitting and speaking directly to the audience for some Q&A or nuggets of truth of the faith? Please keep doing all that you do to minister to the Body of Christ. We look forward to your new book and another season of Savoring Our Faith!!
    With Love & Blessings,
    Colin, Tina & Stella Baird

    Posted by Tina Baird on May 31st, 2012 at 7:01 am.
  • Fr. Leo-My family and I had the pleasure of meeting you while you were in Rockford, IL. You made the most amazing penne a la vodka. Even my older daughter (who typically refuses to try anything new) LOVED it! I made that recipe the other day and was amazed at how simple it was to prepare. I think that would be a great dish to incorporate into ‘Savoring Our Faith’ as it proves one can make fabulous dishes for the family without spending hours in the kitchen.

    Posted by Susan Rabor on May 31st, 2012 at 9:10 am.
  • Recipe request: Arroz Valenciana

    Posted by Li Oli Kraemer on May 31st, 2012 at 9:40 am.
  • Fr. Patalinghug ~ Thank you for your fun, inspirational emails ~ always chock full of great recipes, good photos and spiritual food… –

    Posted by Fr. Leo on May 31st, 2012 at 11:12 am.
  • Thank you Father Leo for this wonderful link. You are soooooo talented! Thinking you can probably Bake as good! Wishing you the best with the Foundation, my thoughts and prayers will be with you.


    Posted by Fr. Leo on May 31st, 2012 at 11:13 am.

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