Tag Archives: evangelization

Evangelization through the Sacred Heart

The month of June is dedicated to the Sacred Heart. The Solemnity of the Sacred Heart is celebrated on the first Friday after the Octave of Corpus Christi and commemorates the love, suffering, and compassion of Christ for all humanity. Pope St. John Paul II, himself an inspiration for Legatus, had a profound devotion to the Sacred Heart. Devotion to the Sacred Heart was also an essential component of Pope John Paul II’s hopes for the “New Evangelization” called for by the Church.

Stephen Henley

“For evangelization today,” he said, “the Heart of Christ must be recognized as the heart of the Church: It is He who calls us to conversion, to reconciliation. It is He who leads pure hearts and those hungering for justice along the way of the Beatitudes. It is He who achieves the warm communion of the members of the one Body. It is He who enables us to adhere to the Good News and to accept the promise of eternal life. It is He who sends us out on mission. The heart-to-heart with Jesus broadens the human heart on a global scale.” There are those around us who do not have the faith we are privileged to hold. The Heart of Christ leads us, faithful Catholics, but also leads those who don’t recognize that they are being led. It lies upon us, those who know, to reach out to those who do not and bring them along to Christ.

As Christians, as Catholics, as Legatus members, we are all called to a life of evangelization. Mother Teresa once said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” We are called to specific vocations at just this time. Sometimes these “small things” can be as simple as a kind greeting to someone you always see but that you never acknowledge, or perhaps an invite to those neighbors that you always say ‘hi’ to, but never anything more. Perhaps invite a friend or family member who hasn’t been to Mass in a while to attend with you. Whether it is as overt as an invitation to Mass or as simple as a nod of the head, making a real connection with others is the beginning to evangelization and anyone can do it!

As Legatus members, we are challenged: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Mat 28: 19-20). Through the love of the Sacred Heart, we can and must go out into our own world and bring Christ to all we meet.

I pray you have a wonderful summer and that you seize every opportunity to bring Christ to those you meet!

STEPHEN HENLEY is Legatus’ executive director

The modern, migrant tomato – from a dysfunctional family

Tomatoes are among those tormented vegetables (or fruits?) of the garden patch. Like many family lines, the tomato comes from a distinguished, albeit, dysfunctional one. Originating in the lower Andes (part of present-day Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia), the tomato was held in little esteem. Small and perishable, it was not a food easily cultivated for storage like potatoes, beans, squash, and maize. By the time Christopher Columbus arrived upon the shores of America, the tomato had made its way to Mexico, but stopped short of crossing the border into southwest North America.

To its credit, the tomato had the distinction of being among the 15 most valuable crops – such as sweet potato, pumpkin, avocado, and cocoa – to depart the New World for the Old, according to Russian botanist Nikolai Vavilov. This unprecedented swapping of plants and animals was dubbed the ‘Columbian Exchange’ by historian Alfred W. Crosby, Jr., who went on to say that these foods “made the most valuable single addition to the food-producing plants of the Old World since the beginnings of agriculture.” The Italians embraced tomatoes with gusto despite the warnings of naturalist Pierandrea Mattioli, referring to it as an “unhealthy apple.” Still, can you imagine Italian cuisine today without tomatoes?

The tomato infiltrated Spain, France, Poland, and beyond, yet North Americans were skeptical of this member of the deadly nightshade family. They were a further menace to Puritan society when rumors circulated that the tomato was an aphrodisiac! How noble was the first man who took a stand on its behalf. According to James Trager, it was Colonel Robert Gibbon in 1840 who stood on the courthouse steps in Salem, New Jersey to eat a raw tomato. Death was surely imminent, yet he lived! It was not until after World War I that the tomato gained status as a worthy component of the dinner table.

Seemingly prone to controversy and discord, there was also the business of classifying the tomato. According to Waverley Root, in 1893 the Supreme Court “ruled that because it was used like a vegetable it must be considered one for the purposes of trade.” So legally, tomatoes are vegetables, while botanically they are fruits.

One might compare this mixed-up botanical debacle with the present-day, hot-button issue of a “Columbian Exchange” of peoples from many countries and across many borders. Genealogical and ancestral lineage aside, we love our homegrown tomatoes, just as we love our extended families in Christ. We must pray to the Lord as we discern the immigration debate. May we each have the courage of Colonel Gibbon, who ate the “forbidden fruit,” to amicably resolve the immigration issue while loving all neighbors as ourselves.

CHEF JOHN D. FOLSE is an entrepreneur with interests ranging from restaurant development to food manufacturing, catering to culinary education. A cradle-Catholic, he supports many Catholic organizations including the Sister Dulce Ministry at Cypress Springs Mercedarian Prayer Center in Baton Rouge, LA. This month’s featured recipe is from his recent cookbook, Can You Dig It: Louisiana’s Authoritative Collection of Vegetable Cookery.

MICHAELA YORK is vice president of communications for John Folse & Company.

Creole Tomato-Basil Pie • yield: 6-8 servings • prep time: 2 hours

4–5 medium Creole tomatoes
½ cup torn basil leaves, divided
1 (9-inch) pre-baked pie shell
1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese, divided
½ cup olive oil, divided
½ cup julienned andouille sausage, divided
1 cup crawfish tails, divided
½ cup grated Cheddar cheese, divided
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
salt and cracked black pepper to taste
1 small Bermuda onion, peeled, sliced and divided
1 cup seasoned Italian bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350°F. Core tomatoes, cut into ¼-inch slices. Drain approx. 1 hour on paper towels to remove excess liquid. Set tomatoes aside. In bottom of pie shell, layer ¼ cup Monterey Jack cheese; then top with sliced tomatoes. Brush tomatoes with olive oil, then sprinkle with basil, andouille, crawfish tails, Cheddar and Parmesan along with ¼ cup Monterey Jack. Season to taste with salt and pepper then add 2–3 slices Bermuda onion. Continue with tomato slices and repeat layers 2–3 times or until pie is filled. Sprinkle top generously with bread crumbs along with any remaining cheeses and basil. Bake 1–1½ hours or until cheese is melted and bread crumbs are well browned. Remove from oven. Allow pie to cool slightly before serving. If desired, place finished pie in refrigerator and serve cold or freeze for later use.

Love like Christ’s warms guests at the table

I’ll admit, the popular image of The Sacred Heart of Jesus didn’t always inspire me. My grandmother had it pinned on her wall. Jesus was shown with His hair parted in the middle, head slightly tilted, looking very concerned like an “active listening” counselor. He also had an exposed heart crowned with thorns, pierced, with a little flame on top. It was puzzling to me at the time.

Fr. Leo Patalinghug

I appreciate how the Sacred Heart image focuses on Jesus’ heart, because it shows His passion and desire for people to know His love in order to share in it. And I can easily see in my mind’s eye that Jesus frequently sat at a table eating with sinners. Not only is the Feast of the Sacred Heart celebrated this year on June 8, but it is commemorated on the first Friday of each month. In asking Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque in His apparitions to her in the late 1600s to help institute the Feast as well as the first-Friday devotions to His Sacred Heart, Christ is really revealing the great “fire” in His heart representing his ever-burning unquenchable love for us, and His desire to be loved in return. In the Gospels, He likewise revealed this love when He met people at the table.


The table is the place where Jesus shared His Sacred Heart in exchange for the heart of the tax collector, prostitute, foreigner, and the hard-hearted. His heart was utterly visible and understandable with His disciples in the Upper Room, and at the Sea of Galilee when he asked Peter, “Do you love me?” “Feed my sheep!”

Jesus’ sacred, shepherding heart is the reason why I started www.PlatingGrace.com, www. TheTableFoundation.com, and especially my new effort, a podcast called, “Shoot the Shiitake with Father Leo.” As an “audio cast,” I do more listening to my guests – people of all different backgrounds – including the type of people Jesus would meet at His table (i.e., sinners and those far from God’s love).

Because of the Sacred Heart, I endeavor to engage this divided world, creating true dialogue and opportunities for conversation and hopefully conversion. While I can’t give everyone the Eucharist, I can represent the Presence of Jesus with my own heart, as I try to unite through listening, sharing, and feeding people who are hungering for the love of Jesus in their lives.

The pious image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is one that may not be readily understood by everyone, but if we receive the Eucharist, then we are called to become the image of Jesus’ Sacred Heart to others. What does that look like for you? I hope the image becomes more clear to you at your next dinner gathering — with family, friends, your “enemies,” strangers, and foreigners, sinners and saints alike.

FR. LEO E. PATALINGHUG, Catholic priest, chef, TV & radio host, best-selling author, renowned conference speaker & corporate presenter, founder of GraceBeforeMeals.com.


Shiitake Mushroom Cream Pasta

1 pound of linguine or spaghetti, boiled al dente
1/2 pound of shiitake mushrooms, brushed clean and
sliced thinly
1 anchovy filet
1 garlic clove, minced
1 shallot, minced
2-3 Tbsp. of fresh parsley, minced
1/4 cup of white wine
2 Tbsp. butter
2 cups heavy cream

1 tsp. of black pepper
1-2 tsp. of grated parmesan cheese per serving
2 tsp. of salt

Cook pasta al dente, reserving 1 cup of starchy pasta water. In large sauce pan, melt butter and add anchovy filet, mashing with fork into smaller flecks. Add shallot, garlic, parsley and sauté until shallots soften and are translucent. Add mushrooms and sauce for 1 minute. Add white wine and cook until reduced by half. Add whipping cream and cook over low heat. Add sauce to pasta. Season with salt and pepper. Add the starchy water, a few tablespoons at a time, and mix the pasta into sauce until desired consistency. Serve with more minced parsley and grated parmesan cheese.

Know 8 “laws” of sharing the faith

These laws are based on the immutable principles of selling that I learned in my real estate days and are invaluable for effective evangelization.

Terry Barber

Keep It Simple. You should not get too complicated; that is, do not try to share too much because people can only absorb a limited amount of information at a time. Try not to be too theological or to get into heavy philosophy.

Keep Him/Her Saying “Yes.” Establishing common ground is very important when sharing the faith. Ask questions or make statements with which the other person will naturally agree. Even if the person you are sharing your faith with is an agnostic, you might ask, “If there is an afterlife, wouldn’t it be better to go to heaven than to go to hell?” Any sane person would answer yes to that, even if only in his heart.

Be Enthusiastic. Genuine enthusiasm is crucial to effective evangelization. The Greek word theos, meaning “God”, is the root of the word enthusiasm, which literally means “being in God.” The presence of God shows in your attitude. If you smile when you share the Gospel … you will be a more effective evangelist.

Call Him by Name. Always ask for the name of the person with whom you are sharing the Faith. Using a person’s name is powerful; he cannot help but respond to his name. [It] is a proven way to keep his attention and make what you are sharing more significant to him personally.

Show and Then Tell. Rather than just telling someone about the beauty of the Eucharist, why not show it to him? For example, you might take him to an adoration chapel. Many people have been converted in the presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

In a conversation with a Bible-believing Christian, rather than telling him a particular Catholic doctrine is biblical, show him the doctrine in the Scriptures and have him read it for himself.

Always Agree. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says, “Agree quickly with your adversary” (Mt 5:25 KJV). This does not mean you should water down your message …but should, however, remain positive and not argue with anyone.

Ask Questions. Salesmen are taught this saying: “He who asks questions has control.” When I evangelize I constantly ask questions … Often the way to bring people to Christ and His Church is not by telling them anything, but by asking them the right questions.

Practice Virtue. Let’s face it: if you are not “walking the talk,” people could not care less what you say. It is by the way you live your life – the good example you set at home, at work, at school, and in social settings – that others will know that you really follow Jesus Christ.

Excerpt from Chapter Five, “The Eight Laws of Effectively Sharing the Faith With Anyone” from How to Share Your Faith With Anyone: A Practical Manual for Catholic Evangelization by Terry Barber (Ignatius Press, 2013).
Used by permission.

TERRY BARBER is an international speaker instrumental in founding three Catholic organizations – Saint Joseph Communications, The Catholic Resource Center, and Lighthouse Catholic Media. He is a co-host for “The Terry and Jesse Radio Show” on podcast as well as “Reasons for Faith Live” with Jesse Romero on EWTN Radio Network.

Scripture 101

“This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 13:35

Catechism 101

The duty of Christians to take part in the life of the Church impels them to act as witnesses of the Gospel and of the obligations that flow from it. This witness is a transmission of the faith in words and deeds. Witness is an act of justice that establishes the truth or makes it known.
Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2472

Brief comfort can change someone forever

“Not long ago, I took an early morning flight from Wichita to Atlanta. Getting up while it was still dark was hard, but I consoled myself with the thought that at least I’d be comfortable on the plane. I had gotten an upgrade to first class, thanks to being a frequent flier. Unfortunately, after boarding the plane I found that we had been assigned to an old aircraft that did not have a first-class section. Some of the first-class passengers lost their temper and took out their frustrations on the flight crew.

Tom Peterson

It wasn’t the flight attendants’ fault, and they were doing their best to make everyone comfortable. When an attendant brought me a cup of coffee, I said to her, “You know, even though we don’t have a firstclass section today, you’re still giving us all first-class service. Thank you so much.” This flight attendant wore a name badge that said “Jessie.” She smiled and said, “Thank you for saying that. It’s been a tough morning and a rough week in general.” We talked a little bit more, and then she moved on to serve the other passengers.

We were about halfway through our flight when I saw Jessie talking with another flight attendant. They were whispering, so I could not hear what they were saying but from her tone of voice it was obvious that Jessie was distraught. I prayed and wondered what I could do to help her. After that prayer, I felt led to take out a Catholics Come Home evangelization card from my wallet and to write on the back of it: “Jessie, the hope that you seek comes only from Jesus and His Church. God loves you! Tom.” At the end of the flight, as the crew prepared for landing, Jessie came down the aisle one last time.

As she was passing my seat, she stopped and said, “I can’t thank you enough for being so nice. I just really feel that we were supposed to meet. Thank you so much.” Handing her the card with the message, I said, “Please read this when you get off the plane.”

About a week later, a letter arrived from Jessie. She wrote, “My name is Jessie. You were on my flight, and you handed me a card with a note on the back. How did you know I was so desperately in need of that message? I want to thank you. I have not stopped crying since I read your note and went to your website. I was raised Catholic, but had been away from the Church and God for many years. I’m recently divorced and struggling with the emptiness of being alone. I have been searching for a man to be in my life and I have found that man. It’s God.”

Jessie had gone back to Mass and came home to God [days before her letter was received].

Excerpt taken from Chapter 7, “Home for Good” from Catholics Come Home: God’s Extraordinary Plan for Your Life, by Tom Peterson (Image Books, 2013). Used by permission.

Network TV producer, author and evangelist, TOM PETERSON is founder of CatholicsComeHome.org and VirtueMedia. org, following 25 years as an award-winning ad executive. He hosts the popular TV series “Catholics Come Home ,” and was vice chairman of Legatus International Board of Governors, helping charter the Phoenix and Atlanta Chapters.

Catechism 101

In order that the message of salvation can show the power of its truth and radiance before men, it must be authenticated by the witness of the life of Christians. “The witness of a Christian life and good works done in a supernatural spirit have great power to draw men to the faith and to God.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2044

Benignity often enjoins great personal sacrifice

From its very beginning the Church has nourished a strong understanding of responsibility for the poor and for the evangelization of all. “All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s needs” (Acts 2:46).

Archbishop Broglio

For several weeks at the end of summer and the beginning of autumn you and I experienced the dramatic situation of our brothers and sisters in Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Puerto Rico and various small islands in the Caribbean.

In the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, the government does not have a protocol for second collections, but rather allows the priest, having consulted his Catholic community council and the ranking base chaplain, to designate a collection (which will be the only one that day) for a specific purpose. The devastation caused by these recent natural calamities led me to request designated offerings three times. The faithful on military installations responded generously.

Of course, some of them responded in another way as well. Soldiers and sailors were sent to Puerto Rico to help the residents in removing debris, setting up emergency systems for power and communication, and assuring emergency assistance in health care on the USS Comfort. While those efforts were funded by the federal government, we do not forget that these men and women who were sent to Puerto Rico were separated unexpectedly from family, home and routine. Once again they fulfilled their duty and we can rejoice in that commitment.

You and I have frequent opportunities to practice what the Lord calls the great commandment. Love of God and love of neighbor are inseparable. “…for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1Jn. 4:20b). There are so many concrete ways to fulfill the demands of that commandment. Gradually, as we deepen our relationship with the Lord, the response to the needs of others becomes almost second nature.

The difference between a merely humanitarian concern for others and that inspired by our faith is that you and I want to see Jesus just like a host of others in the New Testament period. He tells us that such a meeting is not difficult. In the Gospel of St. Matthew (chapter 25) the Lord Jesus tells us very clearly that we meet Him in those who are in need of us. The corporal and spiritual works of mercy allow us to see Jesus in the hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, imprisoned and so forth. That charity is at the reach of everyone and it is coupled with our commitment to evangelize. It will be the matter for our judgment at the end of our earthly pilgrimage.

Even in her mid-80s, my late mother used to take meals on wheels to shut-ins. She only stopped when lifting the trays was beyond her physical strength. Who has not been moved by the sight of a Little Sister of the Poor or a Missionary of Charity meeting the needs of those unable to help themselves? How can we miss the faith in action on the part of a volunteer helping an inner-city child with her homework at one of our Catholic schools? The examples are endless and they inspire us in our commitment to others.

The witness of faith in action also describes that host of volunteers who assure religious education in countless CCD programs, RCIA, and adult education. It is true that these opportunities are a fundamental expression of what the Second Vatican Council stressed in its description of the laity as the leaven that permeates contemporary society with the richness of the Gospel. In 40 years of priestly ministry, I have seen so many examples of those whose faith is lived out in concrete situations. Despite the pressure of frequent moves and constant transition, military faith communities are no exception. Indeed, the commitment of others spurs our commitment and enriches our response. That is how the Gospel has always been spread and we give thanks.

ARCHBISHOP TIMOTHY P. BROGLIO, veteran Vatican diplomat and canon lawyer, took the helm of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS) in Jan. 2008, a global archdiocese serving 1.8 million Catholics worldwide. Learn more about the AMS at milarch.org.


Decorous disciples transcend food Pharisees

Dieters often ask, “With all the cooking shows and eating excursions, how do you stay healthy?” I jokingly respond, ”As a priest, I wear black clothes. It’s very slimming!”

Fr. Leo Patalinghug

Though I could stand to lose a few pounds, I don’t give in to diet fads, whether a pill or plan to get skinny quick. Getting healthy, like developing faith, has no quick fixes – it’s a daily determination, a lifetime of disciplined choices.

Secondly, while I’m happy for those who’ve experienced dramatic weight loss, I recognize certain methods guilt people into unhealthy attitudes.

When it comes to food choices, guilt should never be the motivating factor because it can preclude a person from authentic enjoyment of what God has provided. Rather, the Catholic answer is discipline and moderation.

Discipline, rooted in the Greek word “discipulos,” means “student.” The more we become food disciples — in learning about food — the healthier our diets become without resorting to “going on a diet.” I’m not talking about scrupulous calorie-counting, but a better understanding of how foods are prepared, the effect they have on genetic makeup, moderating eating, understanding portion control, and learning how to boost flavor.

I was recently asked to cook and present a thesis on “theology of food” and our “Grace Before Meals” movement before a group of diners. Preceding the dinner event, the host contacted my organization to inform us someone was on a strict low-carb-no-sugar-no-red-meatno-fat-diet. I appreciated the information because I want to prepare something everyone can enjoy, and I relish culinary challenges. What I later discovered annoyed me. The person had no food allergies, no religious restrictions, and no medical reason to avoid certain foods. This person was healthy, quite thin, and perfectly able to tolerate all the foods I would prepare. The reason for the “strict diet” was partially for eating healthy, but more of vanity and pride – to look good for a family member’s wedding in a few months. Seriously?! Sigh

Diets have become a debilitating cult for some. Jesus gives us a humble approach when he says, “Eat what is set before you” (Luke 10:8). It’s Jesus’ way of making his disciples more approachable and effective. If the disciples judged people because of diet, they would have limited their ability to develop authentic relationships with those they were called to serve, either as dinner guests or spiritual shepherds.

Food disciples are also food missionaries, willing to venture beyond their comfort zones. Food disciples are NOT diet nazis. Instead, they possess diet knowledge and social decorum. They know an occasional, modest piece of chocolate cake, a little wine, two strips of crispy bacon at Sunday brunch, and even a mouthful of natural carbs are not mortal sins!

Relax, celebrate delicious foods on occasion, practice moderation, and avoid being a food Pharisee.

As Catholics, we must maintain healthy bodies as temples for the Holy Spirit, by becoming disciples about everything we put into our mouths and disciplined about what comes out of it. In Matthew 15:11 Jesus says, “It is not what enters one’s mouth that defiles that person; but what comes out of the mouth is what defiles one.”

A sincere food disciple puts Jesus’ culinaryinfluenced-teaching into practice, especially in today’s diet-demoting world that now shuns the daily carbs of The Daily Bread.

FR. LEO E. PATALINGHUG, Catholic priest, chef, TV & radio host, best-selling author, renowned conference speaker & corporate presenter, founder of GraceBeforeMeals.com.


Tantalizing Sweet Potatoes — A Healthy Side

1 sweet potato or yam, peeled, cut into 1/2 inch thick discs
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. paprika 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy cleanup. Combine in a large bowl the olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, cinnamon and paprika and whisk together. Add the sweet potatoes and mix ingredients to cover all sides of the potato. Layer potato discs onto sheet pan, spacing apart evenly. Place sheet pan in oven and cook for 20-25 minutes, until the potatoes are fork tender & slightly charred. Serve as healthy starchy side dish.

Led by the Spirit

Nancy Boyd was carrying what she calls “the huge cross” of a son suffering from mental illness when a friend invited her and her husband to a prayer meeting at a parish in Irvine, Calif.

Deacon Steve Greco (left) poses with Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of the Diocese of San Carlos in the Philippines in January 2017

The meeting – led by Deacon Steve Greco, a member of Legatus’ Orange Coast Chapter – began with singing, continued with a talk, and ended with an opportunity to receive individual prayer for healing.

After Greco prayed over Boyd and her husband Chris, the couple felt strengthened to deal with the sorrow of their son’s illness. The continued going to the meetings, and when their son died on Feb. 17, 2016, the couple was able to turn their grief into a gift.

“Now we will help absolutely anyone we can whose family is suffering with mental illness,” Nancy Boyd said. “We have incredible empathy and compassion and deep understanding that God never gives you more than you can handle, and we know that’s why this happened to us.”

Urgency to Evangelize

The Boyds are just a few of the many people who have been touched by Greco’s ministry of healing and evangelization, known as Spirit Filled Hearts. Through prayer meetings, parish missions, healing services, Life in the Spirit seminars, retreats, a radio program, recordings, books, workshops and pilgrimages, the ministry has extended its reach beyond California’s Diocese of Orange into several other U.S. states and the Philippines.

In May, Spirit Filled Hearts will take a ministry team to Ireland and, within a year, to Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone.

Greco said he and his wife Mary Anne have seen lives changed and people healed of cancer and depression through the ministry. “One man was addicted to heroin for many years, and as a result of coming to the prayer group and ministry, he’s now totally off drugs and a leader in our Spanish ministry,” Steve explained.

Deacon Steve Greco delivers a homily during Mass at the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem in 2016

“Sometimes, we don’t hear the story for a couple of years until we run into the person later,” Mary Anne added.

Orange Coast Legate Ralph Linzmeier, who serves on the Spirit Filled Hearts board, said as the driving force behind the ministry, Steve Greco is an amazing evangelist and homilist whose whole life is focused on praising God.

“He has such an urgency to evangelize,” Linzmeier said. “There’s no question what the most important thing in his life is — just to spread the Word.”


Although Spirit Filled Hearts was founded just three years ago, its work is rooted in an encounter Steve had more than 30 years earlier when he was a 28-year-old sales manager. He inquired about a Holy Spirit pin on the lapel of one of his sales reps, and the man replied, “I found Jesus.”

Realizing that he had Jesus in his head, but not his heart, Steve said, “I went home and looked in the mirror and said, ‘Jesus, I give you my whole heart.’” He began reading the Bible, discovering it as “God’s love letter to me.”

“He was remarkably different,” Mary Anne recalled. “He used to be a sports addict and that was all he cared about. The next thing I knew, he was talking about God and Jesus all the time. It was a good change.”

However, it was somewhat reluctantly that Mary Anne started going with her husband to prayer meetings and healing services. “And then,” she said, “we both kind of got crazy for Christ.”

The Grecos became prayer group leaders at Our Lady Queen of Angels Parish in Newport Beach and got involved with the Southern California Renewal Communities, undertaking a mission of evangelization and healing that continues today through Spirit Filled Hearts.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. Pope Francis has expressed interest in participating in celebrations taking place in Rome during Pentecost weekend in June. Other activities and events are scheduled worldwide during the Golden Jubilee year.

Trust in Jesus

When Steve began the ministry, one of the first things he did was start a radio program called “Empowered by the Spirit” on ESNE, a Spanish-language Catholic channel. The program was picked up nine months later by Immaculate Heart Radio in San Diego, and is now aired nationally. Plans are in the works to add a television show later this year.

L-R: Deacon Steve Greco, Kristin Seagondollar (Habitat for Humanity Orange County), Michael Aimola (VP of Spirit Filled Hearts)

Both Steve and Mary Anne work in the ministry through teaching and leading prayer meetings and Life in the Spirit seminars. Their prayer meeting at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Irvine is the largest of its kind in southern California, with average attendance of 100.

Nancy Boyd, who serves on a healing prayer team for the group, said the most important thing she hears from Steve at the prayer meetings and healing services he leads is to pray for the gift of faith.

“He says over and over and over, if you just ask for faith the size of a mustard seed, you can get through any trials you’re experiencing in life.”

Added Steve: “A big part of our ministry is getting people to surrender and trust in God. It’s important to trust and open your heart to the Holy Spirit.” He also stresses that it’s critical to praise God, not just petition him.

Toward that end, he wrote a daily meditation book, 365 Days of Praise, available on the ministry’s website and Amazon.com.

Although Steve had already answered the call to serve in a ministry of evangelization and healing while working professionally in the health care field, he heard another call — this one to the diaconate — when he was 51.

“I fought it in the beginning, but at the end of the day, I thought that if this is what God wants me to do in service to those in need, that’s what I will do.” He was ordained in 2007. Last April, after 35 years as a health care executive, he retired to pursue ministry full time.

His latest outreach as part of Spirit Filled Hearts was to the Philippines, where Steve and his team ministered to more than 20,000 people in January 2017.

“Our ministry is one of evangelization, healing and working with the poorest of the poor — and, more and more, working with children. In the Philippines, half of the kids are too poor even to go to school. The parents let them wander in the streets.” Spirit Filled Hearts is raising support to help these children.

Wherever he goes with Spirit Filled Hearts, Steve said, his aim is the same: To spread the Word of God and the New Evangelization. “It’s getting the word out about how much Jesus loves you.”

JUDY ROBERTS is a Legatus magazine staff writer.

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A tool of the New Evangelization: An olive branch at dinner

A priest, atheist, anarchist and satanist walk into a restaurant. Sounds like the start of a bad joke? But it was real. I was the priest.

Fr. Leo Patalinghug

On a recent food and faith pilgrimage, as I was leading a tour of a basilica, three men from Sweden started following along. At the end of the tour, they politely asked me questions about the Catholic faith. Since time was limited and I’m always interested in evangelization, I simply invited them to dinner. Fortunately, food and drink lubricated our conversation as I learned about their very diverse and controversial backgrounds.

This dinner gave me another opportunity to extend an olive branch — not as a sign of agreement, but as a way to make peace. Jesus ate with sinners and encouraged us to dine with our enemies and those who can’t pay us back.

Effective evangelizers know that mealtime is the perfect opportunity, par excellence. This situation was no different. Dinners communicate desire for communion, and they form us as servants. Dinners demonstrate love. Therefore, I go out of my way to eat with people who wouldn’t be considered good Catholics — or even believers. I let them know that God loves them enough that he wants to eat with them through his sacred ministers. At dinner, we become better “disciples” — a Greek word meaning “student.” Dinners help us to become disciplined listeners.

In this unique dinner, in between bites of porcini pasta, I learned how these men had been fed a healthy dose of confusion and bold-faced lies. I was hopeful that their questions implied they were still seeking the truth. Their self-imposed titles of “atheist,” “anarchist,” or even a “satanist” were definitely subject to interpretation. I chose to see each as a “child of God” with potential for great conversion and sanctity! I don’t claim to be smarter than them, but I realized that all of my prayer and study paid off. I sparred with their flawed logic, posed questions making them rethink their own positions, and even convinced them that Jesus was a man worth following — even if they questioned His Lordship.

It turned out to be a great dinner. No joke! There was no immediate “conversion,” except in me. I realized that I needed more practice to imitate Jesus who won over many by his dinner conversation skills. He did it by extending an olive branch to those who feel far from God’s love. He tells us to bear good fruit, especially in our love for one another. We’re called to evangelize. If you don’t know where to start, consider extending an olive branch and serving really good food!

FR. LEO E. PATALINGHUG, priest member of Voluntas Dei Secular Institute, is a best-selling author, speaker, radio and TV host, awardwinning cook, director of the Grace Before Meals movement, and founding chairman of The Table Foundation.



Porcini Pasta

1 lb tagliatelle (or other noodle pasta), cooked al dente
2 tbs olive oil
1/4 cup dried mixed (or dried porcini) mushrooms soaked in 2 cups of hot water
1 cup fresh porcini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2-3 tsp fresh parsley, finely minced
2-3 tbs white wine
1 tbs butter
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Cook pasta according to instructions and set aside. Remove hydrated mushrooms from hot water. Reserve mushroom water. Chop mushrooms into small pieces. In a large sauce pan, heat olive oil. Add dried mushrooms and fresh sliced mushrooms to hot oil. Add garlic, 1 cup mushroom water and white wine. Simmer for 1-2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add pasta, remaining mushroom water and butter. Add fresh parsley. Mix until all ingredients are incorporated and pasta is fully heated. Serve immediately. Add parmesan cheese, if desired.

Should Catholics evangelize?

Catholics don’t always outwardly evangelize like other Christians because they think actions speak louder than words. No doubt many think like that, but it’s no libel to suggest that such an excuse often masks other reasons — including embarrassment and timidity.

Karl Keating

Karl Keating

No great Christian evangelist ever relied on actions alone to the exclusion of words. On the first Pentecost, Peter “raised his voice and proclaimed” to the Jews assembled in Jerusalem (Acts 2:14). He preached and wasn’t satisfied to evangelize only through setting a good example. In this he followed his Lord, who sent his apostles out in pairs to preach repentance and to heal (Mk 6:7-13). Paul undertook perilous journeys not so Jews and Gentiles alike could make a cool appraisal of his actions, but so they would hear his urgent pleas to convert.

Think of Patrick preaching in Ireland, Cyril and Methodius telling the Slavs about the Christ, Robert Bellarmine arguing eloquently with Protestant Reformers, John Paul II traveling around the world and insisting on the necessity of the whole Catholic faith. They weren’t satisfied with actions alone. Yes, a person who acts well may be called a good Christian, but for many people that designation today means little.

An American delegate to the United Nations, when asked by the press some years ago how to solve the Middle East crisis, replied, “The solution is really quite simple. All we have to do is to get the Arabs and Israelis to sit down together and talk things over like good Christians.” The poor man had no idea what he was saying. Arabs, at least the large majority, and Jews are not Christians. They may talk with one another like good Christians. But, short of conversion, they never will be good Christians, no matter how often they mimic good Christians in their actions.

Just before he ascended into heaven, Jesus instructed the apostles and, derivatively, all Christians “to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19-20). He didn’t say, “Go out, set a good example, and be satisfied with that.” He told us to preach and teach the faith. Evangelization that isn’t outwardly visible isn’t evangelization at all.

Many other Christians and pseudo-Christians realize this. They’re not afraid to take their messages to others. Think of the street-corner fundamentalist preacher and the evangelical televangelist. In fact, the most successful in terms of new converts are precisely those pseudo-Christian sects, such as the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, which emphasize door-to-door evangelization.

Catholics are starting to wake up to this fact. It’s about time, since about half of all new converts to Mormonism and the Jehovah’s Witnesses, not to mention fundamentalism, are former Catholics.

KARL KEATING is the founder of Catholic Answers. This column is reprinted with permission
from his book What Catholics Really Believe — Setting the Record Straight: 52 Answers to Common Misconceptions About the Catholic Faith (Ignatius Press, San Francisco 1995).

Catechism 101

Christ … fulfills this prophetic office, not only by the hierarchy … but also by the laity. He accordingly both establishes them as witnesses and provides them with the sense of the faith [sensus fidei] and the grace of the word. To teach in order to lead others to faith is the task of every preacher and of each believer.

Lay people also fulfill their prophetic mission by evangelization, that is, the proclamation of Christ by word and the testimony of life. For lay people, this evangelization … acquires a specific property and peculiar efficacy because it is accomplished in the ordinary circumstances of the world….The true apostle is on the lookout for occasions of announcing Christ by word, either to unbelievers … or to the faithful.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, #904-905