NEW ORLEANS (CNS) – While considering ways to help her fellow parishioners at Divine Mercy Church in Kenner, Louisiana get ready for Easter, Becky Delatte thought of a simple recipe she made with his mother forever.
On Good Friday, the duo would sprinkle cinnamon sugar over a full-size marshmallow, wrap it in a ball of canned cookie dough, and refrigerate the concoction for three days.
After baking the dough ball on Easter morning, the surprise would come as soon as they bit into their breakfast treat: the cinnamon and sugar marshmallow, representing the spiced anointed body of Jesus, had melted. and had disappeared inside his paste “tomb”, creating a hollow space reminiscent of the empty burial chamber found after the resurrection of Christ.
“It’s a great visual for young children to see that the tomb is empty,” said Delatte, who asked Divine Mercy pastor Father Robert Cooper if he would be willing to demonstrate the “roll” recipe. of resurrection ”on a Facebook Live video on Holy Thursday, as the parish entered this year’s Triduum.
Much to Delatte’s amazement and delight, the Resurrection Roll segment, featuring Delatte’s 4-year-old daughter Lucy, as Father Cooper’s deputy leader, received over 2,000 views.
Since then, ‘Cooking with Father Cooper’, a Facebook Live series produced and filmed by Delatte in his Kenner kitchen, has grown into a parish sensation that carries the gospel to viewers through one of the favorite pastimes of the world. Louisiana: the food.
A few days before an important party or celebration linked to a Catholic tradition, Father Cooper and Lucy go live to whip up delicious treats on the theme of these holidays.
For example, when Delatte learned that the three open spaces of a pretzel had been designed by a monk to represent the three people of the Holy Trinity, she put on a show in which the chefs made “peanut butter pretzels.” dipped in chocolate ”- to prepare parishioners for the May 30 feast of the Holy Trinity.
“The church has so many cool symbols attached to it,” said Delatte, who, along with her husband Scott, has another daughter, Margaret, 1 year old. “It’s one of my favorite things about the Catholic Church. “
Delatte, who is the communications and media director of Divine Mercy, believes that simple recipes, brimming with faith-based symbolism, can evangelize, teach and strengthen catechesis just as much as a stained glass panel, a statue of a saint or a textbook. .
“These recipes are a fun and easy thing for families to make together because they aren’t complicated,” Delatte said of the segments, which are 15 to 25 minutes long and available to watch after each episode live.
Since the inaugural episode of “Resurrection Roll”, the cast and crew of “Cooking with Father Cooper” have followed with installments including “Divine Mercy Brownies”, made in honor of the parish’s namesake and Divine Mercy Sunday, which was April 11 of this year; “Edible Rosary”, released in May and paying homage to Mary; and “Pentecost Cake”, with a dozen white candles – symbolizing the 12 apostles in the upper room – and a blue candle – representing Mary – in a cake.
On July 19, the Facebook Live series was in its ninth episode, which featured snake cookies, “an easy and memorable family activity that helps explain sin as well as our hope for redemption,” said declared the introduction of the show.
But barely two months after its release, the recipe presented on June 3 revealed that the series had already become a well-oiled machine.
After donning his chef’s apron and helping Lucy, a child in St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Kindergarten, with his own, Father Cooper introduced viewers to “Monstrance Waffles” in anticipation of the Corpus Christi feast.
“A monstrance, for those of you who may not know it, is one of those items that we use to hold the Blessed Sacrament – to hold the Eucharist – so that we can bring ‘Eucharist in procession and adoring the Lord in the Eucharist. Said Father Cooper, who then showed how edible monstrances can be made from scratch or with store-bought waffles.
“Remember, it’s very hot, Lucy. We want to make sure we’re very careful, ”the priest said as he doused the electric waffle maker with non-stick spray.
As the two waited for the waffle batter to set, Father Cooper informed his parishioners of Divine Mercy’s ongoing appeal for donations of activity books, toys, and gift cards to distribute to families in sick and terminally ill children at Angels’ Place, a charity for families with children diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses.
Lucy showed how to create the monstrance waffle “stem” – by making a line of sugar wafers – and added “rays” of butterscotch chips and nuggets to symbolize the glory of God shining in. through the Eucharist.
“You can use butterscotch chips, you can use chocolate chips, you can use whatever you want,” Father Cooper said, before adding a final but important touch: a circle of whipped cream at the top. center of the waffle to represent the consecrated host – the Blessed Sacrament.
“It is a wonderful way to celebrate and remember the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist,” said Father Cooper. “It reminds us boys and girls that we are called to be like a living monstrance. We receive Jesus and then we are (also) called to bring him into the world every day.
Although he doesn’t claim to be a cook himself, Father Cooper grew up in New Orleans in a Sicilian American family of talented cooks and bakers.
“Almost everything is centered on the dinner table,” he said of his family. “It was the ’11th Commandment’ – you had to be there on Sunday for dinner, and if you missed it, it was a serious sin.”
The kitchen segments, intentionally designed to encourage families to cook the recipes with their children and grandchildren, are “a wonderful way to bring food and our religious faith together,” the priest told the Clarion Herald, newspaper of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.
The use of visuals is a catechetical technique that Father Cooper also incorporated into his homilies during his 14 years as a priest, especially at school masses. For example, for his first homily of the school year, he unpacks a backpack containing basic school supplies such as paper, shirts, scissors and pencils. The last object unpacked by the priest, just as his young faithful think the bag contains everything they need for school, is a picture of Jesus.
“While all of these other (school supplies) are important, the most important thing is that we always take Jesus with us,” Father Cooper explained. “I want to be able to reach kids at their level, and because our kids are so visual, we need something to be able to capture their attention.
“The best part about (using props) is that I originally thought I was only talking to kids. But I have found over the years that it has also been beneficial – and maybe even more beneficial at times – for the adults who are in the congregation.
As a live production, the cooking show has many moments of lightness, like when the two presenters used an electric mixer to make buttercream frosting from scratch.
“What does every kid want to do every time they get homemade frosting? They want to lick the spoon, ”said Delatte. “Lucy grabs the whip and puts it all in her mouth!” (The frosting) was delicious, but we quickly learned to use canned frosting from then on!
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Donze is an editor for the Clarion Herald, newspaper of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.