Families savor the Bible over breakfast

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Barb Arland-Fye
Theresa Majchrzak and her son Robert study Scripture during Bible Breakfast Feb. 17 at Holy Family Parish in Davenport.

By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger

Fr. Akindele

Father Nicholas Akindele, carrying his open Bible in his hands, walks energetically in the Holy Family Parish Hall in Dav­enport as families seated at tables study passages from Matthew’s Gospel while eating breakfast pizza and other treats. On this Saturday morning (Feb. 17), they are participating in the monthly Bible Breakfast, following 8 a.m. Mass.

The priest, pastor of Holy Family and St. Alphonsus Parish in Davenport, calls on children and adults to read Scripture passages, showing how Jesus lived in the world at a certain time but transcends history. “He is the Lord of history,” Father Akindele tells the families, who come from parishes in the Quad-Cities area to participate.

Children and adults listen attentively to Father Akindele as he speaks with enthusiasm about the passages from Matthew’s Gospel detailing the birth of Christ and the Magi’s quest to follow the Bethlehem Star to find him. “Why was Herod perturbed?” Father Akindele asks the participants.

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“He didn’t want anyone else to be a king,” 7-year-old Gaelle Agbofin responds. Father Akindele cannot contain his delight. “I like my kids when they are smart and courageous,” he said of the participating youths. “Herod said he wanted to do homage but we can see through his hypocrisy,” the priest continues. “Every human being is a creation of God. Every relationship needs to have God at its center.”

Bible Breakfast began in September 2020, “inspired by a need to help the young people understand their faith better,” Father Akindele said. After a while, “it became a family affair.” Over time, it has developed a flexible format that begins with Mass in the church, followed by breakfast and Bible study and discussion in the parish hall. 

“We start off with the Bible passage, with questions and contributions from everyone. We discovered that in doing this people often come out of it with different lessons or action points,” he said. Hieu Nguyen, the parishes’ youth animator/youth coordinator, and nuns serving the parishes, suggest themes for each Bible Breakfast.  

Local restaurants have donated breakfast items. The Knights of Columbus have also assisted, along with Holy Family’s hospitality committee. Families also bring food sometimes. “We do not always have pizza! Most times it is a typical American breakfast but I have seen a lot of doughnuts, fruits, coffee and cakes of all types,” Father Akindele says. The parish donated Bibles to all the young people, a 365-day book on the lives of the saints and a journal in which to write notes.

Participants come from the Davenport parishes of Holy Family, St. Alphonsus, St. Paul the Apostle, St. Anthony and Sacred Heart Cathedral; St. John Vianney and Our Lady of Lourdes in Bettendorf; Our Lady of the River in LeClaire; St. Ann in Long Grove; and Christ the King Parish in Moline, Illinois.

“This is my first one (Breakfast Bible),” says Hannah McVey, 18, a member of St. John Vianney Parish who is assisting her mom, Anne McVey, with live streaming and video editing the Bible Breakfast for Holy Family’s Facebook page. Tom McVey, Anne’s husband and Hannah’s dad, is accompanying them.

“It’s a great way to start the weekend, to be one step ahead of going to Mass on Sunday and seeing the families together here,” he said. The volunteerism also impresses him. Anne said she met Father Nicholas when he served as spiritual director for a Christian Experience Weekend (CEW). Since then, she volunteered to assist him with live streaming both Bible Breakfast and his nightly rosary that draws an international audience.

Barb Arland-Fye
Father Nicholas Akindele leads a Bible Breakfast study Feb. 17 at Holy Family Parish in Davenport.

Recitation of the rosary concludes Bible Breakfast. The youths take a seat in several rows of chairs and begin to pray, rotating the lead role for each decade. Audrey and Matthew Alvarado’s 20-month-old son, Frankie, dangles a rosary from the chair he sits on, fascinated with the swaying movement. His 3-year old brother, William is also here.

The parents, who belong to Holy Family Parish, believe that even though the boys are very young, “It’s important to be here, to have our boys here in group study,” says Audrey. “It’s a way to come together and have group discussion, to get comfortable with each other and get to know each other.” 

Nine-year-old Ghislain Agbofin leads his decade of the rosary flawlessly, his sister Gaelle, seated behind him. Wilfred and Fidele Agbofin, members of Holy Family, make Bible Breakfast a priority for the family, which includes their son Gustav, 2-1/2. Wilfred, a native of Togo in West Africa, said it is important for the children to learn their prayers, to understand the life of Jesus Christ and to love everybody, as Jesus does. “We want them to grow in their Catholic faith … to incorporate the Catholic faith in their lives so they can pass it along to the next generation.”

Bible Breakfast is all about helping families “develop a healthy understanding of their faith, have a place to ask questions and journey with others in a familiar environment,” Father Akindele said. “I was told that one young boy, after reading about the lives of the saints, said to his mother, ‘I want to be a saint.’ This for me sums up the expectation.” 


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