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Article: Eucharistic pilgrims inspired by Bread of Life – and food truck fare

This article appeared in The Catholic Review.

Katie V. Jones

Special to the Catholic Review

June 7, 2024

There was a festive feeling outside the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Homeland the evening of June 6. People sat in lawn chairs, played cornhole and enjoyed melting ice cream. Others stood in a long line at a food truck where a smiling Father Leo Patalinghug served 150 freshly made meals in one hour.

As a stop on the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage, the cathedral hosted vespers and eucharistic preaching by Father Patalinghug, who switched from his robes to an apron to work in his Grace and Grub Food Truck as soon as the liturgy ended.

“It is really delicious,” said Gemma Lucas, 13, as she ate her meal of noodles, quesadilla and salad, a comment that caught her mother, Stephanie Lucas’ ear. 

“That’s saying something, because she is a picky eater,” Stephanie said.

Both parishioners of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Ellicott City, the two were with family members and a neighbor, who had a full day themselves, having attended Eucharistic Pilgrimage events in Emmitsburg that morning.

“We were there for Mass and did two processions,” said Erika Lucas, a parishioner of Mount Calvary Catholic Church in Baltimore. “It was most beautiful. We did get here 25 minutes late.”

The National Eucharistic Pilgrimage features four groups of people traveling four different routes across the country to carry the Eucharist to cities and towns along the way to the National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis July 17.

Four Maryland stops were part of the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Route, which left on May 18 from New Haven, Conn. St. John Catholic Church in Westminster was the first stop June 5; Seton Shrine in Emmitsburg, and the vespers service at the cathedral were June 6; and the final Maryland stops were at the Basilica of the Assumption, several other city churches and Patterson Park June 7.

In his homily, Father Patalinghug, a Baltimore native who grew up at St. Rose of Lima in Brooklyn and who is known for his talents in the kitchen, asked the 350 in attendance what they would give Jesus if he knocked on their doors.

“Allow Jesus to be your companion and walk with you,” said Father Patalinghug, who won a 2009 cooking challenge against celebrity chef Bobby Flay. “Give him what is hurting you, what is occupying your anxiety. Give him your sins.”

The day also marked Father Patalinghug’s 25th anniversary of his ordination as a priest, a day his mother, Fe Patalinghug, said she had prayed for, but never expected.

“I never thought he would go to the priesthood. He wanted to be a lawyer,” Fe said. “I thank God. Through prayer to Mother Mary, Jesus never refuses.”

As to her son’s success as a chef, Fe said she made sure all four of her children learned how to cook.

“You will never starve if you know how to cook,” Fe said, with a smile, as she accepted a plate of food from her son.

Linda Swenson was excited to finally be able to try Father Patalinghug’s food, as it had sold out before she could get some when his truck visited her parish, the pastorate of St. Clement I, Landsdowne, and St. Philip Neri, Linthicum.

“It’s very good, tasty,” she said, nodding to her companions, who were enjoying a picnic lunch they brought as they knew it would be crowded and “exciting to be part of,” according to Sue Wiett.

It took about an hour for Mark Schneider and his family to travel to the cathedral from their home in Bel Air. The event had been on their calendar, though the decision to come was hard, he admitted.

“It has been a very busy week and after a busy day, I was not in the right frame of mind,” said Schneider, who is a parishioner of St. Margaret in Bel Air. “I am glad I came. You do it and feel better.”


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