Deacon: Be ‘Contagiously Catholic’
Catholic radio host and speaker brings his message to the McHenry County Catholic Prayer Breakfast Nov. 2.
By Louise Brass, Observer Correspondent
November 7, 2019
CRYSTAL LAKE—A Catholic’s duty is to watch for an opening, get his or her foot in the door, toss in some seeds of faith, and let God do His work. Be “contagiously Catholic.”
That is the theory of Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers, co-host of the EWTN’s “Morning Glory” program, and the weekly broadcast “Living Stones,” on Mater Dei Radio.
The deacon backs up his theory with dramatic, humorous, and sometimes startling accounts of his experiences as he travels around the country and other nations. 
He gives powerful and passionate messages at conferences, workshops, retreats, parish missions, high schools and young adult events.
It’s not necessary to memorize the whole Bible, or recite the entire Catechism of the Catholic Church to people, he told the gathering at the McHenry County Catholic Prayer Breakfast, Nov. 2, at the Holiday Inn in Crystal Lake. 
The breakfast for 420 people followed a 7:30 a.m. Mass at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Crystal Lake. 
Just keep on loving and believing, and planting a few seeds here and there, the deacon continued. Then, let God till the ground, water it, and reap the harvest in His own good time.
“Where the seeds land is not our problem,” he said. “Take the love that you have been given from God and spread it like a virus.” 
He said it’s important to live the faith, demonstrate it and share it. 
While out with three of his children at  a fast food restaurant a few years ago, he saw some “young goths,” all dressed in black, seeking scraps of food from garbage cans outside. 
Deacon Burke-Sivers bought the youths each a meal because, “Jesus said we must feed the hungry,” he stated.
But first he told them he is a Catholic — tossing out seeds of information. Then, acknowledging their hunger he said, “Your dinner’s on me tonight.”
Being like Jesus is not complicated, Burke-Sivers says.
If someone says they doubt that the Catholic Church is the Church begun by Jesus — true God and true man — the deacon demonstrated a smart way to respond, using a modern method of inquiry. 
He took out his smartphone, clicked on Siri and asked who started various other religions and denominations, including the Methodist Church, Anglican Church, Islam, and the Seventh Day Adventists Church.
The answer was always a mere human person including John Knox, Henry VIII and Mohammad. 
But when the deacon asked Siri to say who founded the Catholic Church the answer came back, “Jesus Christ.”
The audience responded with thunderous applause.
Also addressing the 400-plus people attending the breakfast was Rick Redd, formerly of St. Mary Parish in Alton. There, he explained, the quiet persistence of his parish priest 10 years earlier, coupled with the tough love of his parents and a word of wisdom from his 92-year-old grandmother, helped guide him back onto the right spiritual path.
After a lengthy confession and kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament, Redd said he found the true joy of knowing Christ.
“For the first time in my life I felt right with myself,” Redd said. “My life before had been a party, but Jesus was not invited.”
During the breakfast, George Jost of St. Margaret Mary Parish in Algonquin  received the St. Paul Evangelist Award.
Another award went to Father Jerome Koutnik, parochial vicar of St. Mary Parish in Huntley. Father Koutnik received the Good Shepherd Award for his pro-life work. 
Koutnik prayed for many years with other pro-life advocates outside the abortion clinic in Rockford until it closed.
Prayers were offered during the breakfast for those in public service including police, military personnel and fire fighters, as well as for the defense of religious liberty throughout the world.
Also participating were Erin Manning, who sang the National Anthem; McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally, who led the Pledge of Allegiance; and Rachel Jost, who sang “God Bless America” to close the event.
Joseph Wheadon, prayer breakfast  chairman, opened the event by reciting the mission statement, which is to bring Catholic clergy and laity of McHenry County together to worship God and to achieve greater unity of the local Catholic community.