Good eats at Bible study lead to new parish cookbook

By Jeff Kurowski | The Compass | December 23, 2020

‘Cook, Pray, Celebrate’ features more than 260 recipes

GREEN BAY — Nourishment from Scripture and food spurred the idea for a recent fundraiser to support St. Agnes Parish.

“There is a group of seven of us that have a Bible study group called BLESSED — Beautiful Ladies Enjoying Sacred Scripture Every Day,” explained Cheryl Smet. “We would have a little meal at the person’s (home) who was hosting. We would always say, ‘Everybody’s food is always so good, we should do something.’”

The cover o “Cook, Pray, Celebrate.” (Submitted photo | For The Compass)

A cookbook was proposed by the group as part of the annual parish festival, but the traditional two-day summer event was changed due to COVID-19.

“We did a drive-thru car hop, which was super successful,” said Patty Sherman, event organizer and a member of the Bible study group.

“We took a different approach with the festival, and it really didn’t lend itself to doing a cookbook at the time,” she explained. “We decided, ‘Let’s push it off and do it as a Christmas gift,’ thinking of course that we would be back together in church. We put it out there.”

A request for recipes was made to parish members.

“We all have been stuck inside. You might as well get out your old recipe books and dust them off,” said Sherman. “You might be out there trying these new ones on Pinterest. Let’s share our recipes.”

“Cook, Pray, Celebrate,” featuring more than 260 recipes, was created. Sherman credits Diane Cornish for doing the bulk of the text entry. Renata Hruska, parish secretary, assisted. Callie Sherman, Patty’s daughter-in-law, designed the cover.

Smet honored family members and friends with recipe submissions.

“I put in recipes from two of my mom’s caregivers. A couple of my mother’s (recipes) are in there and a couple from a dear friend who was a parish member who passed away 20 years ago,” she said. “She was the best cook.”  

Fr. Patrick Beno, pastor at St. Agnes, not only wrote the introduction for the cookbook, but also features for each section, entitled “Flavors and Faith, Saintly Favors.”

“I had an idea pop into my head about doing little stories on the saints and how I could connect them to meals,” he said. “You had to sometimes work your way to make that connection (between the saint and food). There was a little bit of creativity with some of them.”

“I believe in my heart that Fr. Beno’s touches are what really made this extra special,” said Sherman, who added meal prayers to the cookbook.

Fr. Beno also contributed (different prayers) to a new cookbook created by Holy Trinity Parish, Oconto, where he previously served. (Available, for $20, through the parish office at (920) 835-5900.)

“Cookbooks to me used to be something that were commonly done. I had not heard of them being done lately,” said Fr. Beno. “It was a great idea at a really ideal time. People are home right now. It was received very well. Even though we don’t have the same number of people attending Mass, the word got out. People were really interested in ordering for themselves and for gifts.

“I just put one in the mail. It’s on its way to Germany to my goddaughter, my niece, Maria,” he added.

Prepaid orders were taken for the St. Agnes Parish cookbook. The initial print run was 400. Many parish members ordered multiple copies, said Sherman.

“We had someone order 17 and another order for 11,” she said. “Five copies were common. I had people calling to ask, ‘Can we get more?’

“I was impressed with the response,” she added. “We had over 100 (recipe) contributors.”

BLESSED began a few years ago with Franciscan Sr. Jacqueline Spaniola, when she lived at St. Agnes Convent, while serving as director of religious education for the Diocese of Green Bay. The group provides more than an opportunity to explore Scripture and enjoy good food, said Smet.

“We really find that we need each other. We need that support,” she said. “I went through some things with both my parents that they helped me get through. It’s true friendship.

“(The cookbook) is something we can do for the parish,” she added. “It’s our calling to do for others.”

St. Agnes Parish is taking prepaid orders for a second print run of “Cook, Pray, Celebrate.” The cost is $20. Orders must be received by Feb. 1. To order or for more information, visit or contact the parish office at (920) 494-2534.

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