Brief Book Review: Hatch Match & Dispatch

Hatch Match & Dispatch: A Catholic Guide to Sacraments
by Richard Leonard, SJ

Who should read this? Those concerned with understanding the sacraments in a way that not only includes catechetical definitions but goes beyond them, contextualizing their meaning through anecdotes in liturgy and life. This would be a great book for use in an RCIA process in a parish or college Newman center.

Why does it matter? Leonard’s approach is both accessible and entertaining, especially for those who are largely un-catechized but seriously searching for the meaning of the sacraments today. This is a very timely book given that largely secularized Catholic young people often lack the cultural underpinnings that help give an appreciation for the liturgical tradition.

What intrigued me the most? The author’s familiarity with movies that both contrast and illustrate his presentation of the sacraments. Also, his liberal use of entertaining personal anecdotes helps to “humanize” what can sometimes be very dry explanations of these key celebrations of God’s grace in the life of a Catholic.

What will get you thinking? The author does not shy away from controversial issues related to the sacraments such as clerical celibacy, the possibility of women priests, and gay marriage. The topics are treated with an eye to the history of the sacraments as well as to the current cultural moment that has given pastoral relevance to the questions. 

What will most inspire you? This book argues persuasively for the continued relevance of the sacraments in our lives of faith. The author is a natural storyteller and his stories give evangelical clarity and perspective to living the Christian life. For a preacher it is a treasure trove of illustrations that would be helpful in preparing homilies.

Quibble. It is amazing how much erudition is contained in these pages—erudition that is worn lightly in order to make the presentation accessible. It would have been helpful for the author to have included a section at the end entitled “for further reading” for those, inspired by the book, who would like to delve more into the wide arrange of sacramental topics presented in the text.

Leonard, Richard, SJ. Hatch, Match, and Dispatch: A Catholic Guide to Sacraments. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2019. 195 pages. ISBN: 978-08091-0650-9.


A member of the Clerics of St. Viator, Rev. Mark R. Francis has served as President of the Catholic Theological Union at Chicago since 2013 where he is also Professor of Liturgy. His scholarship primarily focuses on the relationship between liturgy and culture.


    1. If you read the book, Leonard addresses the title. He deals with hatching (birth and formation of faith), matching (marriage, to a partner or to the church), and dispatching (conducting last rights and funerals).
      From page 5- “I live by the line, ‘I baptize anyone that moves. I marry anyone that moves. I bury anyone that doesn’t.’ “

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