What Fajitas Taught me About Faith and Catholic Education


Before we cancelled cable, the Food Network was one of my favorite channels. Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Giada at Home, Throwdown with Bobby Flay. I can still see the butter dripping off Paula Deen’s spoon. There was one episode, however, that piqued my interest in both Catholic schools and cooking.

Fr. Leo Patalinghug was challenged by Bobby Flay in a fajita competition. With rosary beads, holy water and a killer recipe on Fr. Leo’s side, Bobby Flay never stood a chance. After that episode aired, I looked at my husband and commented, “I think that priest is for real!”

This past weekend, Fr. Leo travelled to Austin to share his cuisine, his faith and his wisdom with hundreds of Catholics as we kicked off Catholic Schools week around the nation. He’s the founder of the apostolate, Grace Before Meals, and author of two cookbooks, Grace Before Meals and Spicing Up Married Life.

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During his Friday evening cooking demonstration and Saturday keynote, he got us laughing and thanking God for the gift of Catholic education.

“God desired to feed us from the beginning.” Our belly buttons are a reminder that from the moment of conception, he desires to feed us, both physically and spiritually. The same is true for our Catholic schools. They educate and form our children—mind, body and spirit.

“Jesus’ first miracle was performed at the Wedding of Cana, when he turned water into wine.” Make no mistake he desires to perform the same miracles at your dinner table and in our Catholic schools. He wants to multiply our faith, our devotion and our love for him. Our teachers take an ordinary student and make him extraordinary with God’s guidance and wisdom.

Good food is worth it. As a self-proclaimed lover of fajitas, Fr. Leo’s were rockin’ good, y’all. His win, hands down. “Transform your dinner table into a desk, where the greatest life lessons are learned.” As my children are fed at school, both in academics and the faith, I am grateful our diocese places such a high emphasis on the importance of excellent Catholic schools.

“God uses a crockpot, not a microwave.” We can’t feed our children in the fast food lane and expect them to be formed Catholics. We must nourish them with the best ingredients we’ve got, play an active role in their religious education and spend time helping them come to understand the teachings of Christ.

“There is nothing more ferocious in the jungle than a mother, who desires to feed her child.” It’s no coincidence that our schools are referred to as an “alma mater,” the Latin words for “nourishing mother.”

As the mother of five children, four of which are old enough to attend Catholic schools, this week represents many things to me. Our Diocese is blessed with 23 amazing Catholic schools. They are thriving and growing. Our students are achieving high honors, pursuing noble vocations and becoming powerful witnesses for Christ. Every year, when the new school term begins I say a prayer of gratitude for the opportunity to send my children to Catholic school.


If you’re considering a Catholic school education for your child, I encourage you to visit the diocesan school website and like them on Facebook. Choosing Catholic education for our children was one of our best decisions as parents.