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An Invitation to Feast

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Food has a way of bringing people together. When we cook family recipes or certain dishes for a holiday, it leads us to reminisce about those we love. For Kayla Axe, food enables her to get in touch with our larger, heavenly, Catholic family: the Communion of Saints. She finds foods that recall our spiritual ancestors’ witnesses, then recounts their stories to those indulging in her treats.

While Axe admits, “I loved to cook my whole life,” she really began to develop her skills while she was in campus ministry at Ohio University after taking on the weekly Newman Meal, where students were invited to gather after Mass for fellowship. “It was a fun challenge every week to cook for many people on a small budget,” said Axe. There, she discovered that “the table is approachable and inviting, it’s a place for people to gather.” The campus minister, Father Matthew Gossett, suggested she try pairing dishes with saints’ lives.

The pandemic slowing things after college, Axe gave the project more thought. Starting with saints she admired, she created a dish the saint enjoyed or that was local to their country, then explained her creation and the saint’s story on social media for friends and family.

She commemorated St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross’ region by preparing Buletten, described as Berlin-style hamburgers without buns, and hot German potato salad. For St. John Paul II’s feast day, Axe tried her hand at Kremowka, a Polish cream cake and reportedly the saintly pontiff’s favorite dessert.

Asked for her wittiest pairing of food and legend, she named the potato skins she made last summer for the feast of St. Bartholomew— he suffered martyrdom by being skinned alive.

Through her cooking, Axe was sharing the beauty of our faith to her followers, until her little project grew into its own page, Feasting with the Saints.

It is a way to “invite the faith into the home and to talk about it while eating. Faith can be placed into boxes,” said Axe. “Cooking is a lovely way to bring your faith into another aspect of your life.” While tasting her creations, family and friends opened up about their faith in ways they normally would not.

“It’s been fun!” she said, but also admits that these new recipes can be difficult and pushed her beyond her comfort zone. No matter the end result, Axe’s husband and co-workers remain willing to try something new to learn about a saint.

Last fall she expanded Feasting with the Saints by assembling kits of ingredients and holy cards. People learned about a month’s feast day saints and shared food and faith with those around them.

While life can be busy, Axe still finds time to cook and update her followers. Each post is an invitation to learn more about the saints and their faith. Most recently, she commemorated St. Oscar Romero with El Salvador’s national dish, griddled corn cakes called pupusas. Seeking new foods and saints to share, she hopes to branch beyond Europe to the Holy Land, Africa, and Asia, testing her skills with more ethnic ingredients. Axe also wants to expand her activity into local farmers markets near her home in McCartyville.

Others can adapt her ideas to invite their own friends and family into conversations about the saints. “Food is another place for the Lord to be in our lives,” said Axe.

Check out her Feasting with the Saints pages on Facebook and Instagram to be inspired yourself. Start cooking and baking to invite the Lord into the lives of those around you. Evangelization is just a recipe away!

To check out Kayla’s Feasting with the Saints projects go to:

This article appeared in the June 2023 edition of The Catholic Telegraph Magazine. For your complimentary subscription, click here.

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