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Fr. Edwan "Manie" Manuel SVD

A retired master chef by profession, 41-year-old Father Edwan "Manie" Manuel SVD from Buffalo, N.Y., normally goes by Father Manie Manuel. His ethnic background is Puerto Rican, Polish and African America. He can speak English and Spanish. He is currently learning Polish and Italian languages. 

As a child, he would go through the kitchen cupboards, looking for ingredients that would make a meal. His first customers, so to speak, were his mother and her friends. "I started cooking when I was eight years old, said he said. "I made breakfast of pancakes, eggs, bacon and orange juice."

While his mother was in school for a nursing degree, Father Manie watched chefs on television, such as Julia Child. He would cook meals from scratch and recalculate measurements to tailor his dishes. His family and friends call him a "human cookbook." As a teenager, he attended Emerson Vocational High School in Buffalo, N.Y.

After High School he gravitated to Culinary Arts and graduated from the Atlantic Culinary Academy in Dover, N.H. and Le Cordon Bleu in France. He also studied English literature and literature at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, N.H., and theology at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago Illinois.

Some time ago, when he was searching for a way to break into the holistic skin-care business, he said he prayed for an idea. He happened to be reading his grandmother’s Bible when a recipe for homemade soap fell out. He used his background as a chef to further develop the formula and opened Green Butterfly Soap Company in 2008.

His maternal grandmother, whom he calls his second mother, had a distinct influence on his life. When his mom, a critical care and trauma nurse, was in class and working, he would stay with his grandmother. He grew up in the inner city and was grounded in church.

"My grandma was a closet Catholic," he said. "Most of my family didn’t know she was taking me to the Catholic Church."

They attended St. Columba Brigid parish, where Father Manie eventually became an altar server and entertained thoughts of becoming a priest. After time as a professional chef and business entrepreneur, Father Manie returned to the idea of religious life. He said his mother was not surprised. In fact, she even wrote a letter of recommendation, stating that when her son was only six years old, she knew that he would be a missionary. She said that at that tender age, he recognized that his mother’s friend who had a drinking problem needed someone to walk her home and he would volunteer. He said that when he was 18—unbeknownst to his mother who thought he was visiting a friend—he and a friend bought plane tickets to London and spent two weeks doing street ministry, feeding the homeless.

In 2010, he went to Guatemala to work with indigenous people. "I got the mission bug," he said. "They brought Jesus to me. We take a lot for granted. They have to use buckets of water with parasites just to get clean. The people live in corn husk houses with no clean water, and yet they are the happiest people I ever saw in my life."

After his grandmother passed away in 2002, Father Manie heard a Catholic radio program about vocations. His religious calling was renewed. He found the Society of the Divine Word through VISION Vocation Match. He professed perpetual Vows in 2022 and was ordained a religious missionary priest on May 27, 2023

Father Manie believes first and foremost that the genuine rationale for a local congregation is to be an authentic living example and animating expression of Jesus Christ in our midst; in the same humility the Master exhibited in serving others, by affirming their being, healing their sicknesses, and loving their souls unconditionally. If the local church is less than this, Christ’s real presence is not fully represented.

Father Manie is a firm believer in the Bible, he has come to appreciate the beauty and truth in all creation, whether in other religious traditions and sacred texts, interfaith interaction, or simply living out the creed of faith by self-less acts of love and compassion.

Although Father Manie is very good at cooking, He is very happy with his new ministry as a religious missionary priest, and it is where his heart truly is.

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