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Rome Reports

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California priest and chef looks to “savor the faith” every bite of the way

While many may wonder if there is a connection between food and religion, this priest, Fr. Leo, has made it his life's mission to prove just how closely linked the two actually are. He has started a cooking program, “Grace Before Meals” in an attempt to encourage families to eat dinner together more often.

FR. LEO PATALINGHUG
Grace Before Meals
"Food is related to religion and faith, especially to Christians, because God actually became food. If there's one thing that brings people together it is food, which is exactly why Jesus became food, He wants to bind Himself to us. So religion and food, you can't separate them.”

Thus, Fr. Leo has incorporated this “food mindset” into every aspect of his life. In addition to Grace Before Meals, he has also started a non-profit. It is called “The Table Foundation,” which will serve as formation for ex-convicts leaving prison. It is a way for them to learn how to “feed the flock,” more literally, while Fr. Leo also does it spiritually everyday as a priest.  

FR. LEO PATALINGHUG
Grace Before Meals

“Food has impacted my life personally because my whole world is now changed. I actually look at everything in the Scripture through the lens of food. I give my homilies like a waiter would, making sure it's presented well.”

However, his reach is expanded much farther than only his parish. He has a television program, website and cookbook, and is followed by almost 15,000 people on social media as the @cooking_priest, providing what he says is bite-size faith to believers and non-believers alike. 

FR. LEO PATALINGHUG
Grace Before Meals
“I learned from the mystic Doctor of the Church, St. Teresa of Avila, who said, 'If you want to find God, find Him amidst the pots and the pans.' Our job is to feed the masses, and the best way to feed mass media is to make sure our faith is made bite-sizable. That's why the social media can help us in a bite-sizable way to get the message out there because there are a lot of people who are absolutely hungry for the truth.”

It is this hunger that he is trying to satisfy, while finding the relevance and connection between the Lord's Altar and the dinner table.