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Our 2020 Speakers

An Invitation from Our Keynote Speaker, Dr Jorge Valdés

Fr John Bartunek LC_v1

Fr. John Bartunek, LC, S.Th.D

Fr. John Bartunek, LC, S.Th.D, received his BA in History from Stanford University in 1990. He comes from an evangelical Christian background and became a member of the Catholic Church in 1991.

After college he worked as a high school history teacher, drama director, and baseball coach. He then spent a year as a professional actor in Chicago before entering the religious Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ in 1993. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 2003 and earned his doctorate in moral theology in
2010. He has taught moral theology at various ecclesiastical institutions at both
the graduate and undergraduate levels.

He provided spiritual support on the set of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ while researching the 2005 Catholic best seller, Inside the Passion, the only authorized, behind-the-scenes explanation of the film.

Fr. John has contributed news commentary regarding religious issues on NBC, CNN, Fox, and the BBC. He also served as the English-language press liaison for the Vatican¹s 2005 Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist.

His most widely known book is called The Better Part: A Christ-Centered Resource for Personal Prayer. It is the first of three meditation books that make up his “Complete Christian Collection”. The other two are: Seeking First the Kingdom: 30 Meditations on How to Love God with All Your Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength, and Go! 30 Meditations on How Best to Love Your Neighbor as Yourself.

In 2016 he published a series of meditation books delving into the spiritual values behind the natural world: Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter Meditations. A compilation of his many online answers to questions about the spiritual life was published in book form called, Answers: Catholic Advice for Your Spiritual Questions. Dynamic Catholic approached him to write a book on prayer in 2017 called, A Quiet Place: How Daily Prayer Can Change Your Life.

His most recent book is Spiritual But Not Religious; The Search for Meaning in a Material World.

His ongoing series of Do-It-Yourself online Catholic Retreat Guides are available in multiple formats at

Fr. John currently resides in Michigan, where he continues his writing apostolate and serves as superior for his religious community.

Fr. Steven Borello

Fr. Steven Borello currently serves as the Director of Vocations for the Diocese of Joliet.  He has previously served on the Formation and Spiritual Direction Staff at St. John Vianney College Seminary and as Parochial Vicar at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Naperville and at Notre Dame Parish in Clarendon Hills.  He received his Master of Arts in Philosophical Studies from Mount Saint Mary’s College in 2013, his Master of Divinity in Theology from the University of Saint Mary of the Lake, and bachelor’s degrees in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Fr Steven Borello - website

Kevin Matthews

In 2008, Kevin Matthews, a well-known ABC and CBS radio personality in Chicago, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. As the drive-time radio host for seventeen years on AM 1000 The Loop and ABC and CBS radio, and also the voice of his sports commentator, Jim Shorts, and other characters, Matthews entertained ten million listeners weekly, sold out every appearance in the Midwest, and performed in front of 65,000 fans at Grant Park. He traveled around the world, met the famous, had babies named after him, and helped countless charities. He entertained hundreds of thousands of people inside prisons, army bases, and backyards. His promotions included comedy jams, a band, barbeque throw downs, and golf outings.

Broken Mary is Matthews’ story of his early years in radio, and stand-up comedy, his successful career, his struggle with MS, his awakening to the dignity of women, and, importantly, his chance encounter with a broken statue of Mary left next to a dumpster and all that happened as a result. Told with Matthews’ signature good humor, this confession of the brokenness of mankind is touchingly honest, personally inspiring, and full of hope.

Cliff Barber 

Cliff Barber is Chief Strategy Officer for the Archdiocese of Chicago with primary responsibility for Renew My Church (RMC), Cardinal Blase J. Cupich’s vision for increasing parish vitality in the diocese. At the heart of RMC is a Holy Spirit led call to missionary discipleship for all baptized Catholics in the diocese – knowing Jesus Christ more deeply and sharing Him more effectively with a world in need.

In 2018 Cliff was appointed by Cardinal Cupich as the interim Director of the Diocese’s Black Catholic Initiative (BCI). BCI was created to unify black Catholics from across the Diocese to more faithfully live out our baptismal calling to care for the poor and share the Gospel, particularly in black neighborhoods. Before working at the Archdiocese of Chicago Cliff was a founding Partner at Chicago Mezzanine Fund (CMF), an investment management company that partnered with investors to achieve maximum financial and social returns on investment, especially in Chicago’s low-wealth neighborhoods.

Before launching CMF, Cliff was a partner at a London-based hedge fund. He started his career as a management consultant at the Boston Consulting Group. He is also author of a recently published report entitled “Creating Viral Impact in Black Communities Through Small Business Expansion”, commissioned by the Expanding Black Business Credit Consortium, a Steering Committee of Black-led CDFIs from around the country. Cliff obtained a BSc in economics from Grinnell College, a General Course degree from the London School of Economics and an MBA from Harvard Business School. He is married with five children and resides in Evanston where he is a member of St. Mary’s Parish. He is a lector at his home parish, at Holy Name Cathedral and is a member of his local Knights of Columbus.

Dr Jorge Valdes_v1

Dr. Jorge Valdés

Do you remember the television program “Miami Vice” with its powerful drug cartels, daily million-dollar drug deals, fast money, fast cars, fast women, good guys-bad guys, cops and robbers, all set in some of the swankiest locations on earth?  Dr. Jorge Luis Valdés lived and experienced the real-life of Miami Vice.

Dr. Valdés was 20 years old when he dreamed of becoming a millionaire before he was 30. He had everything -technically speaking- to make his dream come true: family, education, a brilliant mind, and an enormous capacity for effort and sacrifice. He showed great promise but succumbed to the temptation of money and power.  Seduced by a group of Colombian businessmen, who at that time were the biggest importers of cocaine, Dr. Valdés put his financial brain at their service.

By the early age of 21, Dr. Valdés became a drug lord and largest importer of cocaine.  As a millionaire playboy, Dr. Valdes made between one and three million dollars a month. He had gorgeous women, yachts, private jets, and mansions all over the world. He had everything the world wanted, and yet he felt miserable.  He endured prison, torture, and betrayal and yet he envied people who could be happy with a simple life.

While serving a prison sentence, Dr. Valdés earned a bachelor’s degree in Bible from Southeastern College.  Upon his release from prison, in 1995, Dr. Valdés earned a Master’s Degree from Wheaton College, and in 2001 Dr. Valdés completed his Ph.D. in New Testament from Loyola University in Chicago.

Today, Dr. Jorge Valdés is a much thought after speaker and spends the majority of his time writing books, mentoring few selected leaders, speaking, and simply being a dad.  His first book, Coming Clean, was published worldwide by WaterBrook Press (a division of Random House/Doubleday) in September 1999, and that same year, Vida Publishers published Cuentas Claras.  In June of 2018, Ediciones Logos published Jorge’s second Spanish book, Cerebro Narco. His second English book, Narco Mindset, along with Narco Mindset Workbook, were recently published by SLT Publishing and available through Amazon.