McHenry County Catholic Prayer Breakfast Packs Powerful Punch of Faith
Patricia SzPekowski, Observer Correspondent
October 5, 2023
CRYSTAL  LAKE—The 12th annual McHenry County Catholic Prayer Breakfast (MCCPB) brought priests and parish members together in a powerful forum of prayer and fellowship for the 400 attendees at the Holiday Inn on Sept. 23, here.
The event began with Mass at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Crystal Lake. It was concelebrated with the parish parochial administrator, Father John Kladar, and Father Christopher DiTomo, pastor, St. Mary Church in Huntley who also serves as chaplain and member of the MCCPB board of directors.
Highlights of the MCCPB continued its traditions of patriotism and faith — the presentation of two special awards and inspiration from individual stories of faith given by two speakers.
The faith strengthening take-aways this year were numerous and practical. The examples of humility shown by the award winners and the devotion of the speakers who spoke of a strong commitment to family prayer and illumination through a personal conversion journey.
The St. Paul Evangelization Award was presented to Ray Wagner of St. Patrick Parish in Hartland by Joe Wheadon, vice chairman of the MCCPB board. Wagner was described as an awesome Catholic who is viewed as a heavy lifter for his tiny parish. “He is the sacristan and generally wears every hat within the parish that doesn’t require an ordination to carry out,” said Wheadon. 
Wagner was completely shocked at his recognition. When he came to the stage to accept his award, all he could blurt out was that “I’m so glad I shaved this morning.”
Father Godwin Asuquo, former pastor of St. Patrick Parish in McHenry and recently reassigned as pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Aurora, was recognized with the Good Shepherd Award by Tad DePorter, MCCPB committee member. 
“While pastoring St. Patrick’s, Father Godwin was a powerhouse of a priest,” DePorter said. “He was beloved by all and has an overwhelmingly positive and gregarious personality that makes anyone feel loved.” 
In his remarks to the delighted audience, Father Godwin, as he is known, said “You can take priests out of McHenry County, but you can’t get McHenry County out of a priest.”
They warmed up the crowd for two strong national speakers and authors, Kendra Tierney and Dr. John Bergsma. Their presentations brought faith-filled wisdom and no-nonsense advice to grow in faith in an entertaining and realistic way.
Tierney is author, founder and C.E.O. of Catholic All Year and the creator of the show “Catholic All Year at Home” on FORMED. She is a recently widowed mother of ten children, ages 4 to 21, living in unincorporated Los Angeles County. Her life is surrounded by a passion for liturgical living in the home, and she believes that anything worth doing is worth overdoing. 
She gave applicable examples of weaving prayer every single day with her children and into their family life. In addition to saying the rosary and novenas together, among other prayerful practices, Tierney said she encourages her children “to have a conversation with God throughout the day.” She is a huge fan of in-the-car prayer. “We’re all buckled in and stuck there together, so we might as well pray,” she said. One of her favorites is what she called location-based prayer. “If we pass a cemetery, regardless of the denomination, we say the Eternal Rest prayer and every time we pass a Catholic church we recite the spiritual act of Communion.” 
Dr. Bergsma is a best-selling author and serves as Professor of Theology at the Franciscan University of Steubenville and vice president at the St. Paul Center. His commitment to prayer and daily readings of scriptures are an important part of his daily rituals. With his high impact of professing the Catholic faith, it was notable to hear that his father served as a Calvinist pastor and Dr. Bergsma himself went to a Calvinist seminary for years. 
“I got cold feet before ordination regarding the pillars of protestant principles,” he said. “I was directionless and disillusioned and was depressed.”
He asked the Lord what to do. He decided to go to graduate school to “sort my head out” and was accepted at the University of Notre Dame. There, he met a fellow student he referred to as “Michael, who was strong and inexplicable in his Catholic faith.” They had hearty, thoughtful conversations, and even a challenge to see who could prove the validity of Jesus in the Eucharist. When he was told of the Apostolic Fathers who followed St. Peter, St. Clement of Rome and St. Ignatius of Antioch, he found the treasures of the Catholic faith. 
Dr. Bergsma shared that he has a small Catholic Bible with him at all times. He noted that “Pope Francis urges us to carry scripture with us. When you’re in a line at the store or just have a few minutes, don’t pick up your phone. Take out your Bible because you’ve got mail from Jesus.”
The messages were clear to all attending the MCCPB’s testament of faith. Nancy Daumke of St. Mary Parish in Huntley said, “I love to support this event and our issues of pro-life, charity, and the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. It is good to see so many Catholic people together with such camaraderie and yes, to hear such very good speakers. I can’t wait for next year.”
The MCCPB committee welcomes others to join their team and get involved in future events. Find out more on their website at
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