‘Weird kind of priest’ shares message of prayer, family


CELESTINE — Father Leo Patalinghug isn’t your run-of-the mill priest.

Fr. Patlinghug

His electric energy on stage might tip you off to that, as would his resume, which includes being a chef featured on the Food Network, an award-winning choreographer for break-dancing groups, and a third-degree black belt martial arts instructor.

“I’m a weird kind of priest, and you can quote me,” he said with a laugh after he led a talk at St. Celestine Catholic Church on Sunday night.

Patalinghug — who is also an international and inspirational speaker — will speak at churches across the county this week. He will be at St. Raphael Catholic Church tonight at 7 p.m. leading a talk titled “Finding God through His Mother,” and he will return to St. Celestine at 7 p.m. Tuesday for “Finding God at the Lord’s Table.” He will also speak at a youth event at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Holy Family Catholic Church in Jasper.

The Baltimore man has been a priest for nearly two decades. He studied political science and journalism in college and studied culinary arts while living in Italy. He leads a movement called “Plating Grace,” which is designed to nourish the body, mind, and soul by bringing families together at the dinner table.

And his chef skills have a resume of their own. In 2009, Patalinghug appeared on an episode of Food Network’s “Throwdown! With Bobby Flay,” in which he bested celebrity chef Bobby Flay in a fajita-cooking contest.

“Really, the whole point is ... to present truth and goodness in a way that’s digestible and edible,” he said of his movement. “So I try to reach out not just to Christians, but to people who might not feel like they have a home in the church. And we have to do a better job as a Catholic church to kind of present the faith.”

Recipes and more information about Patlinghug can be found on his website, FatherLeoFeeds.com, and on his Facebook page.

His discussion Sunday night focused on the power of prayer, reaching back to God when he reaches out to you, and cutting sin out of life. Humor and crowd participation shaped the presentation. He said he wanted attendees to see themselves as part of a family and that they are on the way to something bigger and better.

“But between now and then, we need to have companions,” he said. “This is a great word. It comes from ‘cum panis,’ (or) ‘with bread.’ Because you’ve got to break bread with people along the way.”

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