Going back to school or work after summer break isn’t easy. No matter what your age, it would be more enjoyable to have an endless summer of fun and no work. However, we know it is only through work and sometimes even suffering, like that of Christ on the Cross, that true reward and joy can be won.
In my ministry as priest in the Diocese of Brooklyn, I have the honor of combining many of my interests, all reminding me daily it is only through hard work that real rewards are gained.
As Vicar for Development of the Diocese of Brooklyn, I oversee Futures in Education, the scholarship foundation for the Catholic Schools of Brooklyn and Queens. Each year I work with the staff and dedicated supporters of Futures in Education to provide scholarship assistance to students seeking a Catholic education whose families earn less than $27,000 yearly. They would not otherwise be able to afford the Catholic school of their choice without our help. Watching their parents struggle with limited resources to send them to a Catholic school inspires me. It would be easier to attend a free public school, yet they want more for their children. They yearn to break the poverty cycle through the richness of a good Catholic education.
As host of “Breaking Bread,” a cooking show with a Catholic perspective produced by DeSales Media, I meet different people from Brooklyn and Queens, two of the most diverse counties in the country. I visit restaurants, speak with community leaders, and invite chefs into my kitchen to share what unites us all – faith and food. This has enabled me to learn much about the struggles many endured to become American while holding onto their culture and ethnic beginnings.
Recently, I had the pleasure of cooking with Rosella Rego, author of “Cooking with Nona.” Her newest cookbook is comprised of grandmas’ recipes from around the country. In today’s instant-gratification society, taking time to sit listening to grandma’s stories while bonding with her over cooking has largely been lost. There’s also the loss of family history, when missing what one generation shares with the next. Though it’s easier to order in or eat out, the work put into making a dish and learning from parents and grandparents yields a meal more satisfying.
As school resumes and work intensifies, remember how rewarding hard work is when you’ve accomplished what you intended. You never know what surprising new things you’ll learn – like watching your child gain knowledge you’ve not had, or gaining insight from a grandma with a lifetime of experience to share.
The three “Fs” of life are Faith, Family, and Food, and all three are only as good as the work, sacrifice, and time put into them.
Grandma’s Italian Eggplant Meatballs
1 loaf hard Italian bread1 large eggplant
10 oz EACH of: ground beef, ground veal, ground pork
1 Cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 Cup shredded Parmesan cheese
¼ Cup chopped Italian parsley
2Tbs. chopped basil
1 Tbs. chopped garlic
1 Qt. Italian tomato sauce
Oil for frying
Soak bread in milk and water. Squeeze excess and remove crust. Allow 1-2 days to dry.
Skin the eggplant, cut into cubes, and boil for 10 minutes. Drain well.
Mix in large bowl: ground beef, veal, pork, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses, parsley, basil, garlic, eggs, stale made bread, salt and pepper.
Form mixture into round meatballs; fry evenly in heated pan with oil.
Put layer of tomato sauce on bottom of baking dish. Place fried meatballs in dish, cover with layer of tomato sauce, add additional parmesan and mozzarella cheese.
Place in pre-heated oven at 350˚Fahrenheit for 30 minutes and enjoy!
Introducing NEW chef, MONSIGNOR JAMIE GIGANTIELLO, pastor of The Shrine Church of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Brooklyn, and host of WNET TV’s “Breaking Bread.” He graduated from the Culinary Arts Institute in New York, working as a chef and hospitality executive before becoming a priest.