McHenry Catholics Gather for Annual Mass, Prayer Breakfast
By Pat Szpekowski, Observer Correspondent
September 20, 2018
CRYSTAL LAKE—A message of encouragement for the Church, its leadership and the faithful, plus the vivid startling reality of an abortion, were strongly evoked throughout the morning at the eighth annual McHenry County Catholic Prayer Breakfast held Sept 15, here. 
“Part of our mission is to gather in fellowship and to help you pray more,” said Joseph Wheadon, prayer breakfast chairman.
Guests heard two powerful messages and left with positive affirmations of their own after hearing keynote speaker Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, who is chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. 
Yvonne Florczak-Seeman, pro-life author, also spoke. 
”The Archbishop gave us great news (telling us) to remember that we are the Church and to have the courage for healing,” said Eileen Vogel.
Reflecting on the words of Florczak-Seeman, Molly Taylor said, “I kept telling myself not to cry. It was amazing she had the courage to share her pain and experiences with us.”
Before the breakfast, Archbishop Naumann, celebrated Mass at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish. 
He was joined on the altar by Father Godwin Asuquo, pastor, St. Patrick, McHenry; Father Jerome Koutnik, parochial vicar, St. Thomas the Apostle; and Father Ervin Caliente, parochial administrator, St. Rita, Rockford. 
At Mass, Archbishop Naumann reflected on the day’s feast of Our Lady of Sorrows.
“At this time,” he said, “the body of Christ is suffering. Our loving Mother of Jesus helps us with mercy and love and in the midst of the most difficult circumstances, she always draws us to Jesus. She embraces the wounded and gives us comfort and consolation.” 
The breakfast, held at the Holiday Inn, was packed with celebrations, emotions, and a bright light of encouragementfor the 350 people who attended. 
U.S. Representative Randy Hultgren (R-14th), said he has attended all the McHenry prayer breakfasts. 
He also spoke briefly of two pending pro-life bills: the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act and the Heartbeat Protection Act, before he led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Painful honesty
“How great God created women to be,” said Florczak-Seeman, a wife and mother, as she began her presentation. She then unveiled the painful truth of her life and having five abortions. 
She was 16 when she made the first agonizing decision to end the life of her unborn child. The four abortions that followed were merely medical procedures in her mind. 
“These are the deepest regrets of my life,” she said, “to think it was just a blob of tissue and that Planned Parenthood said it was no big deal and life will resume on Monday.”
Her fifth abortion was extremely traumatic “as a cold technician abruptly did the procedure with a vacuum cleaner after my boyfriend gave an additional $150,” she said, because the baby was at 13 or 14 weeks of gestation. 
“The pain was unbelievable and he yelled at me to stop moving.” 
She became so sick she went to an emergency room a few days later, and the nurse told her she still had half a baby inside. 
“I said, ‘a baby?’ ” 
After many years of depression, she realized that abortion hurts women emotionally, physically, physiologically and spiritually, and doesn’t protect them. She converted to Catholicism and, she said, felt  great relief after her first confession. 
“This is free,” she said. “I felt no shame then, because Calvary took that from me.” 
Her raw words weren’t meant to shock, gather sympathy or  make anyone uncomfortable,  she said, but “to encourage everyone to expose the lie of the legal right to kill an unborn baby.” 
Confronts crisis
Archbishop Naumann confronted the current Church crisis and the need for the purification and healing of its bishops, priests and the Church through prayer and fasting. 
“We ... have made real progress with open investigations, calls to law enforcement, and independent review boards,” he said. 
He praised Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, who is president of the United States Catholic Council of Bishops, for his emphasis on getting to the truth. 
“This is an encouraging time for a religious revival and awakening. It brings us the call to be missionaries and to discuss why we’re Catholics,” he said.
Awards presented
Two awards were presented by the prayer breakfast board. 
The first, the Good Shepherd Award, recognizes a priest in the McHenry County Deanery. Prayer breakfast board member Fred Wickham presented it to Msgr. Daniel Hermes who recently retired as pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish. 
“A Good Shepherd baptizes our children, hears our confession, gives us our first communion, marries and buries us,” Wickham said. “Msgr. Hermes was our first prayer breakfast chaplain,” he added.
Msgr. Hermes, a priest for 49 years, said he was honored to receive the award. 
“These are very difficult times for us with the crimes we are hearing in the Church,” he said. “The devil is attacking us and together, priests and people, we must fast and pray. Jesus told us He will be with us always.”
The annual St. Paul the Evangelist Award was presented to Irene Napier, a supporter and leader of the pro-life movement in McHenry County for the past 40 years. 
Since 1973 and the decision of Roe v. Wade, Napier has been a part of the national, Illinois and McHenry County Right to Life organizations.
Jim Klocek, prayer breakfast treasurer, presented her with the award and said that “once she gets hold of you, she doesn’t let go.” 
She gets volunteers to hand out pamphlets, attend pig roasts and much more, he said. 
“I just celebrated my 93rd birthday,” Napier said, “and although I have lived in Lake County for the past four years, I am still spreading the message. I miss St. Thomas the Apostle Church and SS. Peter and Paul Church in Cary.”
The spiritual band “WAY” from St. Thomas the Apostle Parish played at the breakfast. 
Final comments from Father Asuquo tied the morning’s messages together.
“God has called all of us to encounter with Jesus and to stand up and defend life from womb to tomb,” he said. “Yvonne’s message brought all of us to tears, and Archbishop Naumann’s words encourage us to stand firm.”