A priest, celebrity chef, martial arts instructor, break-dancer, award-winning author, radio and TV show host — Fr Leo Patalinghug — is coming to New Zealand in November with a message that centres around food and God’s love.

His ministry “Plating Grace” is about bringing families back to the dinner table through preparing and sharing a meal together and in doing so strengthening family bonds.

Fr Patalinghug will be sharing this message, complete with a live cooking demonstration, for the first time in New Zealand at the “Family Banquet” conference organised by the Centre for Marriage and Family (CMF) in Wellington on November 10.

New Zealand celebrity chef Martin Bosley will also be presenting at the event sharing about his “Gate to Plate” voluntary culinary work mentoring prisoners. Fr Patalinghug said “We believe in the power of food to do good — for all people, no matter their background — as food is the common denominator that can bridge people and culture.”

“Eating around the table is so important because in today’s fast paced world, we need to create opportunities for togetherness, connections and communication. We need to realise that we have deep hungers, not just for food, but for companionship — a word derived from the Latin for “with bread”. This is what Jesus did when he ate with sinners and strangers. He invited all to his banquet. And when we serve one another, we show we love them. That’s what a family meal can do — share love, simply by sharing bread!”

Fr Patalinghug also noted how all religions have “feast days”. “For Christians, we learn why Jesus invites us to be servants at the table and even reveals himself as bread and wine. I will share a message about how a meal can bring us closer to God and one another. . . .”

Fr Patalinghug, a black belt martial arts instructor, will be engaging, especially young audiences, with his spiritual combat message, using hand-to-hand combat techniques to illustrate key biblical concepts on spiritual warfare.

The priest, who was born in the Philippines and raised in the United States, lives in a consecrated community called Voluntas Dei (The Will of God). He hosts a weekly TV show called Savouring Our Faith on EWTN.

“Plating Grace” is an international apostolate to help strengthen families and relationships through God’s gift of the family meal.

The “Family Banquet” will be held on Saturday, November 10, starting with a Mass from 9am to 10am at the Our Lady of Fatima Church, 169 Main Road, Tawa. This will be followed by conference presentations from 10.30am to 5.00pm at St Christopher’s Anglican
Church, 167 Main Road, Tawa. For details and how to purchase tickets, visit www.eventbrite.co.nz.