Sean Agniel started working with STEP as a student in Notre Dame's M.Div. program back in 2005. After graduation Sean took a job as the Provincial's Assistant for Social and International Ministries for the Jesuits of the Missouri Province, where he also served as the Director for the Alum Service Corps and for the Ignatian Volunteer Corps in St. Louis. More recently he changed hats and now serves as the Jesuit Provincial's Assistant for Secondary and Pre-Secondary Education. Sean lives in St. Louis with his wife and three children.
Rhodora Beaton is a New Hampshire native currently living in South Bend, IN. After completing an M.Div. from Notre Dame in 2002, Rhodora served as Campus Minister and Theology Instructor at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College in Terre Haute, IN. In 2009, she completed her doctorate in Systematic Theology, writing a dissertation on the sacramentality of words in Roman Catholic theology since Vatican II. She has been working with STEP on and off since 2001. In her spare time Rhodora enjoys traveling, entertaining friends and family, and the occasional hiking trip.
Allison Blay hails from Gainesville, Florida where she spends most of her time caring for her young children. She is involved with various volunteer projects, most especially Friends Across the Ages, a nursing home volunteer program that she and her husband started in 1999 (www.acrosstheages.org). She holds a BA in English (1998) and a M.Ed. in English Education (1999), both from the University of Florida. She also earned a master’s degree in theology (2004) from the University of Notre Dame. Her background includes work in campus ministry and youth ministry in addition to the nursing home ministry. She has participated in her parish’s music ministry for many years and occasionally sings with other musical groups as well. She has continued to pursue her passion for theology through reading, writing, scripture seminars, and facilitating STEP classes.
Stephanie Blumenson is a founding faculty member at Cristo Rey San Jose Jesuit High School. The school opened its doors to low-income, first generation college-bound students in the fall of 2014, offering a high quality Catholic college preparatory curriculum, while utilizing a unique corporate work study program to help offset the costs of a private education. Stephanie is the Director of Accreditation and teaches Early World History (to freshmen). She has also served as the Director of Christian Service and Student Council Moderator.
Stephanie graduated from the University of Portland in 2006 with a Bachelor's degree in Secondary Education. She went on to earn a Masters in Education through the University of Portland's Pacific Alliance for Catholic Education, which a formation program to prepare teachers to work in Catholic education. In the summer of 2012 Stephanie returned to graduate school. She earned a Master's degree in Catholic Educational Leadership through the University of Notre Dame's Remick Leadership Program (part of the ACE program). Stephanie enjoys living in her hometown of sunny Santa Clara, California near family and friends, and loves traveling! She is passionate about Catholic education and providing access to students who traditionally are not able to attend Catholic schools.
Kandie Brinkman teaches Theology at Judge Memorial Catholic High School in Salt Lake City, Utah, where she resides. She completed a Masters in Religious Education from Loyola University, New Orleans in 1998 and a PhD in Social Psychology at the University of Utah in 2000. She is a certified Lay Ecclesial Minister for the Diocese of Utah. In addition to her ministry in Catholic Education, she is a catechetical formation director for Catholic School Educators. She frequently presents workshops in faith formation, social justice, and Catholic education and when called on she is a spiritual director. As an Associate with the Sisters of the Holy Cross, she serves as a member of the local leadership team. Kandie and her husband enjoy time together as they take the dog on long walks or travel to visit their four grown children who make their homes in Boston, Pittsburgh, Providence, and Santa Barbara.
Michael N. Buckler
A native of Florida, Mike graduated from the University of Florida with a BA in History in 2002. He received the Master of Divinity degree in 2006 from the University of Notre Dame. Currently, he serves as Director of Youth Ministry at Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church in Land O’ Lakes, Florida. Mike has over fifteen years of experience in youth ministry, including involvement in a number of Catholic schools, parish youth ministries, and retreat programs. He is particularly interested in liturgical theology and Catholic social teaching. Mike has taught catechist and youth ministry training courses in three dioceses, and he and his wife Megan serve as Catholic Relief Services Fair Trade Ambassadors. They live with their four children in Wesley Chapel, Florida.
Tom graduated from St. John's University (Collegeville, MN) in 2000 with a B.A. in Theology. After graduating, he spent a year with the Catholic Charities Volunteer Corps in St. Paul, MN, working at St. Joseph's Home for Children. His educational experience is in both experiential and adventure learning (through Voyageur Outward Bound School and the YMCA) and classroom teaching (at Notre Dame). He completed his Master of Theological Studies at Notre Dame in 2006 and is currently working on completing his dissertation on justice in the theology of Thomas Aquinas. Tom lives in South Bend with his wife, Anna, and son, Sean.
Andrew Casad has served since 2013 as the Director of the Office for Liturgy in the Archdiocese of Seattle and previously was the Director of Liturgy and Catechumenate in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He holds a Master of Theological Studies in liturgical studies from the University of Notre Dame (2003) and a Master of Arts in cultural anthropology from the University of California San Diego (2005) with research focuses on Eastern Christianity, Christian Initiation, and monasticism. Andrew served as a team member for the North American Forum on the Catechumenate and has been published in Pastoral Liturgy, Catechumenate, and Catholic Rural Life. Andrew was baptized and raised in the practice of our Catholic faith at the Church of St. Mary in Escondido, California, and was called to the sacrament of marriage in 2001. He and his wife live on their small farm on Vashon Island together with their two young children.
Dan Cebrick lives in northeastern Pennsylvania. Since completing the Master of Divinity degree at Notre Dame in 1994, he has taken a few different paths with work and life experiences in education, the corporate world and ministry. Upon completion of the M.Div. Degree he taught in the Religious Studies department and worked in Campus Ministry at Stonehill College in Easton, MA for one academic year. During the next several years he worked as a computer analyst and programmer in the health insurance industry in Harrisburg and Wilkes-Barre, PA. Over the past five years he has combined his computer skills and love for education as the Registrar at another Holy Cross sponsored institution of higher education, King's College in Wilkes-Barre, PA. In addition to his administrative responsibilities he teaches part-time in the Theology department. Over the past 10 years he has been actively involved in ministry in the parish, college, hospital and hospice settings working primarily in RCIA, retreat and ministry to the sick and dying. As his journey continues, he looks forward to being a part of the STEP program through Notre Dame, learning from and with others.
Jane Cors Smith
Jane lives in both Mishawaka, IN, and Harpers Ferry, WV. Her husband, Barry, and she have been married for 26 years. They have two grown sons, Ben and Jeff. She presently serves as Executive Director of Pastoral Services for the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, WV. She graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a Masters in Divinity in 2004. Her hobbies and interests include enjoying the beauty of the outdoors, dogs, cats, sculpting, painting, crafts, writing, boating, fishing, traveling, and collecting fossils.
Robert Cowlishaw calls home Salt Lake City, Utah. Robert graduated from Catholic Theological Union with a Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies in May 2013. He was commissioned a certified lay ecclesial minister for the Diocese of Salt Lake in 2010 after completing a four-year formation program that included theological studies through STEP. His current ministries include adult formation retreats in Utah mission territories as well as other adult catechist training sessions for the diocese. He has served in various liturgical and catechetical ministries in his home parish, but nothing excites Robert more than adult catechesis.
Robert and his wife Rocio have two adult children. He has worked for Questar Corporation for 29 years and has held various IT positions. He has an accounting degree from Utah State University. When Robert retires from Questar he plans to devote his time to Church ministry. Robert also enjoys photography and reading everything related to Thomas Merton.
Annie Crew-Renzo hails from sunny California. Annie's undergraduate work was at St. Mary's College (CA) in the San Francisco Bay Area, and she completed the Master of Theological Studies program in May of 2003. She worked for STEP her second year in the Master's program, and after graduation, she went to work for STEP and enjoyed working at ND and facilitating several courses. During the 2004-2005 school year, she worked for Saint Mary's College (IN) in Campus Ministry. Now back living in her home state of California, Annie is teaching theology at St. Francis High School in Sacramento and enjoying keeping current on her reading. Her husband Clayton is also working for the Diocese of Sacramento in a local Catholic grade school. Their family also includes one young daughter.
Catherine Crino is the Director of Religious Education at St. Emily parish in Mt. Prospect, IL, a suburb of Chicago. She has worked at various parishes in the Archdiocese of Chicago for thirty years, with experience in the religious education and formation of adults and children, sacrament preparation, liturgy, annulment ministry, coordination of outreach ministries including peace and justice, the ministry of care, and parish communications. She also has experience as a classroom teacher, in retirement home administration, and employment counseling. In addition to parish ministry, she has also been a faculty member in various archdiocesan institutes for ministry training and formation. She is originally from Tucson, AZ, and lived in Los Angeles for some time. She has a BA in history from UCLA, as well as completing graduate studies in education there. She holds a Master of Divinity degree from Boston College School of Theology and Ministry (formerly Weston Jesuit School of Theology). She is currently pursuing advanced studies in spiritual direction.
Chris Culver completed his Masters of Divinity in 2000 from the University of Notre Dame. He has over ten years experience as a catechist, and five years experience as associate director in the Fort Wayne/South Bend Diocesan Office of Youth Ministry. He has completed a national certificate in youth ministry. He currently teaches at St Joseph's Catholic High School in South Bend. He loves the work and challenges that come with youth ministry. He is married and has three children, Ben, Sophie and Joshua. Chris is also an officer in the United State's Naval Reserve.
Kelly Culver Assistant Director, STEP
Kelly Culver graduated from Saint Mary's College in Notre Dame, IN in 1996, and from the University of Notre Dame with a Masters of Divinity in 2001. After graduation she worked on an extensive sociological study of the implementation of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults in six parishes and co- authored a book based on the research, Real Stories of Christian Initiation: Lessons for and from the RCIA, published by Liturgical Press, 2006. She joined the STEP program in July 2002. Most importantly, she is the mother of three small children, Benjamin, Sophia, and Joshua.
Tom Cummings Director, STEP
Thomas C. Cummings graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1988. He served four years in the United States Marine Corps as a Logistics officer. After his military service, Mr. Cummings entered the Congregation of Holy Cross and began his theological studies. After two years Mr. Cummings left the Congregation of Holy Cross and taught scripture at St. Stanislaus High School in Bay St. Louis, MS. In 1996 he entered the Master of Divinity Program at the University of Notre Dame and worked in the Office of Student affairs as an Asst. Rector and Rector of an undergraduate hall. Mr. Cummings completed his M. Div. in May 1999. He began work on STEP during the 1998-99 academic year and has worked full time in the Institute for Church Life since June 1, 1999.
Kaitlyn Dudley Curtin
Kaitlyn Dudley Curtin studied at the University of Notre Dame, completing the Master of Theological Studies program in 2005 and the Master of Education program in 2011. Her experience includes teaching theology in a rich variety of contexts—junior high, high school, college, parish, and online with STEP! She is a home educator for her three young children in Atlanta, where she lives with her husband, Tommy.
Kelley Dawson is originally from Phoenix, Arizona. After completing her undergraduate degree at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, she moved to Los Angeles, where she served as the Director of Campus Ministry at Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy. She married her now husband, David, in 2011, and worked for three years at Flintridge until she moved to South Bend, where she began the Master of Divinity program (2013-2016) at Notre Dame. Her main interest is catechetical theology. She loves cooking, being outdoors, and exploring the city of Chicago. She and David are excited to welcome their first child into their family this year.
Marlene DeLeon is a Catholic Campus Minister at a large state university and she also does hospital clinical hours as a chaplain-intern. She first heard Father Pedro Arrupe's poem about falling in love during her son's Notre Dame Sending Forth liturgy; to her it poignantly described her journey from the corporate world to working for God. She was an investment professional for over twenty years and before that managed college textbook development. Boston College awarded her MTS degree, recognizing coursework also at Notre Dame and Weston Jesuit. In off hours, she helps former offenders reintegrate, and provides retreats for women in transition. Marlene and her husband enjoy cooking, gardening, biking, reading, and the arts. They brought three children into the world.
Amelia Desesto-Sury is originally from the Philippines. She studied chemistry at Ateneo de Davao University, a Jesuit school, and then practiced chemistry as a researcher in a state university for several years. Feeling a call to serve in the Church, Amelia joined the campus ministry team at her undergraduate university and also became coordinator of the First Year Christian Formation Program. After several years, she enrolled at the Franciscan School of Theology in Berkeley, California, where she completed her Master of Arts in Ministry for a Multicultural Church and Master of Arts in Theological Studies in May 2010. She became a certified Master Catechist for the Archdiocese of San Francisco in May 2011. While in San Francisco, Amelia served as a confirmation and youth minister at St. Gabriel Parish. In 2015, she has become the Director of Faith Formation for St. Raphael/Our Lady of the Valley Parish in the Diocese of Phoenix, Arizona. She and her husband Joseph reside in Sun City, Arizona.
Mandy Dillon currently serves as a Pastoral Associate at Our Lady of the Wayside in Arlington Heights, IL, in addition to being a Licensed Massage Therapist. She holds a B.A. in psychology and theology and a Master of Divinity degree, both from the University of Notre Dame. Previously, Mandy worked as a Pastoral Associate and Director of Liturgy at Church of the Holy Spirit in Schaumburg, IL. Her ministry experience has included liturgy, young adult ministry, youth ministry, retreat work, RCIA, social justice advocacy, high school religious education, and campus ministry.
Greg Doyle Associate Director, STEP
Greg Doyle is originally from the Virginia suburbs of Washington DC. After completing undergraduate degrees at Notre Dame, he served in the Navy as a submarine officer in Charleston, SC and then worked at a commercial nuclear power plant in Maryland. He returned to Notre Dame for theological studies, graduating with a Master of Divinity degree. Greg began working with STEP while a graduate student during the first year that STEP e-Courses were offered and started full-time work there upon graduation. He and his wife have two sons.
Colleen Dunne facilitates STEP courses from the mountains of western Montana. Colleen’s undergraduate degree is in speech communication theory and public relations from Carroll College in Helena, Montana. She completed her Master of Divinity at Notre Dame in 2003. Colleen has worked as a campus minister at her alma mater, Carroll College, as well as directed the diocesan youth camp in western Montana. Recently she spent time in Kansas City working for The National Catholic Reporter and helping to develop the online publication, Global Sisters Report. Colleen is now back in Montana working as the Director of Development for De La Salle Blackfeet School, an elementary and middle school serving children and families of the Blackfeet Reservation in northwest Montana. In her spare time, Colleen likes to mountain bike, travel, ski, go to movies, and spend time with friends and family.
Sara Dwyer, A.S.C., is a member of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, United States Region. She is Associate Director of the Paulist Fathers Formation Team and Director of the Spiritual Life Institute at St. Ann’s Parish, both located in Washington, D.C. Sara offers workshops and retreats on spirituality and theology for adults. She facilitates various courses for STEP at Notre Dame—most often on Catholic social teaching.
Sara serves as the Justice and Peace Office Coordinator for Adorers in the U.S. and is active on other justice projects. She has Master degrees in theology from St Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas, and in education from Boston College.
For enrichment, Sara enjoys walking, reading, and offering reflection days. A Kansan by birth, she now has lived in D.C. for 8 years, and really enjoys the Smithsonian museums and national monuments (not the politics!).
Originally from the rural shores of Robinson Lake in Michigan, Tom moved to Grand Rapids to study English at Aquinas College from which he graduated in 2003. Following college, Tom participated in the Holy Cross Associate program at the urban site in Santiago, Chile. During that time, he lived in an intentional Christian community, mentored children in foster care, taught English to second graders, and worked in two soup kitchens. Upon moving back to Michigan two years later, Tom taught English As a New Language to agricultural migrant laborers and tutored in a technical high school. Later he pursued a Master of Divinity from the University of Notre Dame, graduating in 2012. He currently resides in Grand Rapids while working as a pastoral associate at Our Lady of the Lake and St. Francis de Sales Catholic parishes in Holland, Michigan.
Judy Fean is the Director of Campus Ministry at Saint Mary's College, Notre Dame, IN. Prior to working in Campus Ministry, she served in several parishes as a pastoral associate. During her years at Saint Mary's, Judy has been instrumental in developing leadership programs for college and high school students (such as Spiritual Leaders) and a lecturer in the Religious Studies department. She holds a master's degree in theology from the University of Notre Dame and a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Pittsburgh. She is a team member for the North American Forum on the Catechumenate and has served as a spiritual director for 20 years.
Bert Fitzgerald was born and raised in Los Angeles, where he also got a BA in Theology from Loyola Marymount University in 2004. He came to South Bend, IN, where he currently resides, for Notre Dame’s MTS program, which he completed in 2008. A lot of his work has been in food and farming, starting a couple of initiatives to make local foods more accessible in Washington, DC, and then in South Bend. He has also worked in development for the Faith and Politics Institute in DC, and in campus ministry at Bishop Laughlin HS in Brooklym, NY. For the last two years, Bert has served as a volunteer staff member in the Peter Claver Catholic Worker community in South Bend, an intentional Christian community of hospitality. His interests include the life of philosophy, Christian mysticism, and comedic writing.
Larry Fraher has served as a lay person in professional ministry for the past 21 years at the parish, school and diocesan levels. He has served as a parish youth ministry coordinator, high school theology teacher and coach, diocesan director of youth and young adult ministries, and diocesan lay formation coordinator and instructor. Currently he is the Director of Catechetical Ministries at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Scottsdale, Arizona and a PhD student in the area of Art and Religion at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, where his research interests lie in examining the relationship between theological aesthetics, catechesis and the development of the Christian imagination. He is married and has three daughters.
Monica Frazier is a native Texan who returned to her home state after completing a Master of Divinity at the University of Notre Dame in 2002. She also holds a Bachelors in Theology from the University of Dallas. Monica currently serves as the Director of Adult Formation and Liturgy at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church in Wichita Falls, TX. Her recent ministry experience includes coordinating family retreats for a diocesan retreat center and training parish ministers in family-centered catechesis. Monica also spent four years with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps directing the formation of young adults serving in poor communities throughout the South. In her spare time, Monica enjoys exercise, road trips, and being "the cool aunt" to her six nieces and nephews.
After growing up in Florida, Betsy graduated from Southern Methodist University (Dallas, TX) with a BA in Religious Studies in May 1999. She received her Master of Divinity degree in May 2003 from the University of Notre Dame. Currently, she works as Director Religious Education at Our Lady of Hope Catholic Church in Port Orange, FL. Betsy has 15 years of ministry experience including youth ministry, religious education and catechist formation as well as brief but informative times in hospital chaplaincy and RCIA.
Susanna L. Cantu Gregory facilitates STEP courses from Dubuque, Iowa. She holds a B.A. from St. Edward’s University in her hometown Austin, Texas and an M.A. in Theology from Boston College. In May 2014, she was awarded the PhD in Theology from the University of Dayton (Ohio). In her scholarship and teaching, she is most interested in the intersections between systematic theology and ecclesiology: between church teachings and the faithful’s operations of mind and acts as they live them out. Currently she is writing a book on the lay associate movement in the American Catholic church, which is about those in formal relationship with vowed religious congregations. She and Bill, her husband of 11 years, have two children. She began with STEP in January 2015.
James K. Hanna
Jim and his wife Alice have been married 40 years and live in suburban Pittsburgh where Jim serves on the pastoral council of St. Louise de Marillac parish; they have two grown children and one grandson.
Jim earned his M.A. in theology at Duquesne University and a Certificate of Catholic Theology in morality and ethics through STEP.
Jim has an interest in the lives and legacies of Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton. He facilitates retreats for the “Ignatian Spirituality Project: Retreats Ending Homelessness” and is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in OSV Newsweekly.
Hannah Hemphill Barrett has been working with STEP since 2005. She primarily facilitates the course Jesus Christ: Yesterday and Today. She is currently working on a doctoral dissertation in Theology at Notre Dame. She sometimes lives in South Bend; sometimes in Jerusalem.
Kristen Hempstead is currently the Director of Religious Education at St. Teresa of Avila parish in Chicago. She studied Music at Loyola University New Orleans and later went on to receive her Master of Divinity from the University of Notre Dame in 2006. She has been working in Lincoln Park ever since. Prior to her graduate studies, she served as youth minister and retreat facilitator for Capuchin Youth and Family Ministries in Garrison, NY.
Gary Hortsch serves as the Director of Faith (Campus Ministry) at a Catholic High School in Portland, Oregon. His educational history includes a BS from the University of Portland in Secondary Education, a MAT from the University of Portland through the ACE program, and a MDiv from the University of Notre Dame. His employment history includes experiences as a teacher, camp counselor, retreat facilitator, and university residence life. In his free time, Gary enjoys hiking, fly fishing, skiing and spending time with his family.
Rita LaBruzzo is originally from Long Island, New York. She presently lives in Florence, South Carolina.
Her undergraduate degree is in elementary education and mathematics; she furthered her education with master’s and doctorate degrees in pastoral ministry.
Rita has taught in parish faith formation programs, was a DRE, worked as pastoral associate focusing on liturgical ministers, was Director for the Institute for Pastoral Studies at St. Joseph College of Maine in the Distance Education Division as well as Adjunct Professor for non-credit, undergraduate, and graduate courses there also.
Rita and her husband, Bob, have been married 42 years; they have 3 grown children as well as 4 grandchildren who make their homes in North Carolina, Michigan, and Nevada.
Rita also does consulting, is a resource person for the Congar Institute, offers workshops, is involved in parish ministry leadership, and facilitates classes for STEP.
A native of Texas, Liz LaFortune graduated from the University of St. Thomas, Houston, in 1987, with a Masters of Religious Education. She moved to Ohio in 1992, and on to Granger, IN, in January of this 2005. Over her years of ministry to the Church, she has served as a youth ministry director, high school theology teacher and department chair, campus minister and and as a parish social action coordinator for the Diocese of Cleveland. She brings a love of teaching to her role as a STEP facilitator. Liz resides in Granger with her husband Mike and their son, Matt, a sophomore at Marian High School in Mishawaka.
Anita Louise Lowe
Sister Anita Louise Lowe, OSB, is director of liturgy for the Sisters of St. Benedict of Ferdinand, Indiana. A native of Louisville, Kentucky, she entered the Benedictine community in 1987 and made her perpetual profession in 1995. She celebrated 25 years of monastic life in 2014.
Sr. Anita completed a master’s degree in theology with a concentration in liturgical studies at the University of Notre Dame in 2012. She has taught classes on Liturgy of the Hours and monastic ritual to the sisters in initial formation at Ferdinand and classes on liturgy to the Cistercian Monks in Vina, California. She has also presented programs at the monastery’s retreat center on balance, stress, healing, and prayer and to the monastery’s Oblates on the Liturgy of the Hours and the Rule of St. Benedict. In addition, Sr. Anita enjoys singing, playing the guitar, and playing the harp.
Karen Mallozzi lives in Natick, MA where she currently serves on St. Linus’ Parish Council. She is a certified Catholic catechist who chose to stay with a single class as they progressed from second grade religious education through the Confirmation Program. Karen facilitates the yearly Advent wreath program for the parish as well as facilitating the Christian Book group that includes parishioners from St. Linus, St. Patrick and St. Zepherin. For nine years Karen worked as Parish Office Coordinator for St. Ann and St. Zepherin Parishes in Wayland, MA. In 1981, Karen earned a BA from the University of Rhode Island, majoring in History. Later that year she married and in 1983 she and her husband added a daughter to their family. Karen completed her MA in Theology and the Arts in May, 2010 from Andover-Newton Theological School in Newton, MA, concentrating on religious themes in literature and film. Karen is currently the Coordinator for Parish Ministries at St. Bridget Parish in Framingham, MA.
Diana Matthews has roots as a "Valley girl," having grown up in Southern California. After graduating from UCLA with a B.A. in Mathematics-Applied Science, she spent time as a lay missionary in northern Sweden before engaging in Youth and Campus Ministry in Los Angeles and earning an M.A. in Religious Studies from Mount St. Mary's College. An avid folk dancer, Diana met her husband Chris in an international dance company. They have lived in Montreal (Canada, eh?), Cleveland, Knoxville -- and now the Milwaukee area, where they currently reside. Diana received an M.A. in Ministry from Ursuline College while in Cleveland, as well as Certification in Lay Ecclesial Ministry from the diocese. She also holds a certificate in spiritual direction. She enjoys STEP and the opportunity for being present with others in this creative environment for study, faith sharing and prayer.
Claire McManus is the Director of Faith Formation for the Diocese of Fall River, MA. In this capacity she oversees the Office of Catechesis and Formation; The Office of Adult Spirituality; the Office of Youth & Young Adult Ministry. Claire also works closely with the Office of Catholic Schools reviewing the religion curriculum and providing formation to the Catholic School catechists. Claire has worked for over twenty years in her parish in Marshfield, MA doing ministry with adolescents and young adults. Born and raised in NJ, Claire received a BA in Psychology from Rutgers University. She received a MA in Pastoral Ministry from Boston College Institute of Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry, and a Licentiate in Sacred Theology from Weston Jesuit School of Theology. In her more than thirty years of marriage Claire has lived in Washington State, Michigan, NJ, England, The Netherlands, and Massachusetts. She and her husband, Tim, have raised five children-two sons and three daughters.
Sara Janecko Milone currently resides near Boston, Massachusetts. After completing her B.A. in Religious Studies from the College of the Holy Cross, Sara began a two-year service opportunity with the PLACE Corps where she taught in an all-girls Catholic high school in Los Angeles while receiving her M.Ed. from Loyola Marymount University. After discerning God’s call to more fully prepare for a life in ministry, Sara completed her Masters in Divinity from Weston Jesuit School of Theology and Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. Sara’s areas of ministry include secondary religious education and campus ministry, mission and identity, youth and young adult spirituality, lay minister formation, and women’s spirituality. She is currently enrolled in a Post-Master’s Certificate in Spiritual Formation program at Boston College. She and her husband, Mark, have three young children.
A native of Northern Minnesota, Arlene Montevecchio is a graduate of St. Norbert College and Harvard Divinity School. She is Director of the Center for Social Concerns at Gannon University and her publications include spiritual reflections and book reviews in U.S. Catholic, National Catholic Reporter, The Social Edge.com, and The Merton Seasonal. Arlene lives in Erie, Pennsylvania with her husband and son.
Caesar Montevecchio graduated from Georgetown University in Washington, DC in 2000 with a bachelor's degree in theology and psychology. He then attended Harvard Divinity School and earned a Master of Theological Studies degree in 2002. From 2002-2005 he taught and did campus ministry work at North Cambridge Catholic High School in Cambridge, MA, a member of the Cristo Rey network of schools started by the Chicago Province of Jesuits. In 2005 he moved to Erie, PA and taught theology for two years at Villa Maria Academy. Currently he resides in Erie with his wife, Arlene, and son, Andrew, and is a member of the religious studies faculty at Mercyhurst College.
Kayla Mravec is from the Cleveland suburb of Lakewood, Ohio. After completing her undergraduate career in religious studies at Ohio Wesleyan University, she served with Amate House in Chicago at a community day shelter. Her time at Amate House affirmed her passion for ministry and giving a voice to the more vulnerable in society. Upon completing her year of service, Kayla entered the Master of Divinity program at the University of Notre Dame, focusing on disability ministry and theology. Since graduating in 2014, Kayla has returned home to Cleveland where she continues to pursue serving in her local parish and community.
Cindy Muenchrath-Spady is originally from Iowa and now lives and works in Hastings, Nebraska. Currently, Cindy is helping her husband manage the family farm and also their start-up software company. In addition, she is adjunct teaching various religion courses at local and online colleges.
Cindy has her B.A. in Management and Religion from Simpson College in Indianola, IA (1995). From there she went to Iliff School of Theology in Denver, CO to obtain her Masters of Divinity in 1998. After working in a downtown parish for five years she moved to North Platte, NE. Cindy was Director of Lay Ministry for the Diocese of Grand Island, Nebraska from 2000-2008. Cindy earned her Doctorate of Ministry from Drew University in 2007. Her dissertation and project were focused on Lay Ministry. She also recently lived in Seattle, WA and was pastoral associate for a parish there. Cindy has been facilitating for STEP since 2006 and is honored to have this opportunity to learn with the Notre Dame community.
Josh Noem is originally from the Black Hills of South Dakota. He met his wife, Stacey, as an undergraduate of Notre Dame; they both graduated in 1998. After spending a year with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Alaska, they worked for the Church in Florida, where Josh served as editor of the diocesan newspaper in Venice. Josh returned with his wife to Notre Dame, where they earned their Masters in Divinity degrees in 2005. Josh serves with Stacey in campus ministry at the University of Portland, Oregon. They have two sons.
David brings 25 years of ministry experience in various roles in parish and diocesan positions. He took his Master of Divinity and a Masters in peace studies from Notre Dame. Currently he teaches theology at St. Leo University in Tampa and serves as the director of faith formation at St. Timothy parish in Lady Lake, Florida. David is married with 4 children plus one angel in heaven.
Lisa Orchen is a native of Southern California. She graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a BA in 1988 and pursued a career in corporate life in Hartford, Connecticut. After experiencing a deep call to serve the church she returned to Notre Dame where she earned a Master of Divinity in 1994. She is a certified Chaplain with the National Association of Catholic Chaplains and has served as a hospital chaplain, Director of Campus Ministry and as a Pastoral Associate for a vibrant parish in Connecticut. She serves as a trained catechist for the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, writes for Liturgy Training Publications and leads archdiocesan workshops and retreats. She is married to John Baker. Lisa and John and their two children live outside of Hartford, Connecticut.
Danielle M. Peters, S.T.D., is a member of the Secular Institute of the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary and a post-doctoral research fellow at the Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame to explore the possibilities for a Marian initiative. A former professor and coordinator of academic programs at the Pontifical International Marian Research Institute (IMRI) in Dayton, Ohio, she continues to collaborate with IMRI as student advisor and occasional guest lecturer. Before coming to the Institute for Church Life she served as an official at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. She is the vice president of the Mariological Society of America and the author of Ecce Educatrix Tua: The Role of the Blessed Virgin Mary for a Pedagogy of Holiness in the Thought of John Paul II and Father Joseph Kentenich, as well as articles and blogs about Our Lady.
Trish graduated from Notre Dame in 1990, with a B.A. in government and international relations, and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the US Air Force. After 5 years active duty, she returned to Notre Dame to enter the M.Div. program. Trish completed the M.Div. in 1998, and remained at Notre Dame as the director’s assistant at the Institute for Church Life, where she assisted with the development of STEP. Since then, Trish has facilitated numerous courses for STEP while working full time and completing a Ph.D. in moral theology (specializing in medical ethics) from Loyola University Chicago. Completed in 2008, her dissertation was on the topic of human vulnerability. She has taught undergraduate and graduate courses at four different universities, and has spent the last five years supporting the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Department of Defense in the policy and program offices that oversee the ethical use of animals, and humans, in research.
Amanda Roberts grew up in Buenos Aires, Argentina and moved to Massachusetts with her family after graduating high school. She completed her undergraduate degree at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester MA and her M.Div. at Notre Dame a few years later. After finishing her degree, she spent two years in Gresham, OR working as Director of Adult Education and RCIA before returning to Massachusetts to live closer to her family and friends. She is the Faith Formation Director at St. Robert Bellarmine Parish in Andover MA and the author of Saints Off the Pedestal: Real Saints for Real People.
Tracy Rodenborn has been happily involved with STEP since 2003! She hails now from Austin, TX, where she lives with her husband, Steve, and two young children. She has worked in parish ministry with a focus on adult education and formation and also in Catholic education as a teacher and as a campus minister. She received her Master of Divinity degree from the University of Notre Dame in 2001.
Joel is managing editor of TrueQuest Communications in Chicago, publishers of the PrepareTheWord.com whole parish evangelization and homily preparation resource and the VISION Catholic Religious Vocation Discernment Guide. He has a master's degree in theological studies and is the author of God's Doorkeepers: Padre Pio, Solanus Casey, and André Bessette and Holy Simplicity: The Little Way of Mother Teresa, Dorothy Day, and Thérèse of Lisieux, both from Servant Books, as well as many articles for the Catholic press.
Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, Megan graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a Science Pre-Professional and Theology degree. After graduation she spent a year as a full-time volunteer with Capuchin Youth and Family Ministries in Garrison, NY. Her ministry with youth during that year inspired her to pursue her calling in lay ministry. She returned to Notre Dame for the Master of Divinity Program where she focused on parish models of youth ministry for her Synthesis Seminar. After graduation, she moved to Chicago where she was the Director of Youth Ministry at St. Giles Parish in Oak Park, IL for three years. For the past six years she has been the Assistant Director of Pastoral Ministry and eventually the Sophomore and Junior Class Chaplain at Saint Ignatius College Prep in Chicago, IL. She is also involved on the national level as part of the Founding Leadership Team for the National Association of Catholic Youth Ministry Leaders (NACYML) - a professional organization for those involved in ministry with adolescents. In March of 2010 Megan joined Notre Dame Vision as Assistant Director where she coordinates the summer conferences for Campus and Youth Ministers and facilitates ongoing formation for the undergraduate Mentors-In-Faith.
Lourdes Silva, ha laborado con el ministerio hispano alrededor de unos 15 años en parroquia y a nivel diocesano. Actualmente, es la Directora Asociada para el Ministerio Hispano en la Diócesis de Fort Wayne - South Bend, IN. Obtuvo su Maestría en Divinidad de la Universidad de Notre Dame, IN. Nacida en Brooklyn, N.Y. de padre y madre Puertoriqueños, es madre de 3 princesas y abuela de 3. La experiencia del ministerio y el amor a su fe Romana Católica la anima en su rol de facilitadora en los cursos cibernéticos de Notre Dame, IN. Ella comparte: "Exhorto a todos los que buscan algo más para enriquecer los conocimientos sobre su fe Romana Católica a que participen de los cursos para que vean lo alentador que es no solo aprender pero a la misma vez particpar con personas globalmente aprendiendo todos juntos en una verdadera experiencia de la Comunión en el Cuerpo de Cristo."
Lourdes Silva has worked in Hispanic Ministry for about 15 years doing parish and diocesan ministry. At this time she is the Associate Director for Hispanic Ministry in the Diocese of Fort Wayne - South Bend, IN. She obtained her Master of Divinity from the University of Notre Dame, IN. Born in Brooklyn, N.Y. from Puerto Rican parents, she is mother of 3 princesses and has 3 grandchildren. The ministry experience and the love of her Roman Catholic faith encourages her facilitator role with the Notre Dame STEP program. She shares: "I encourage all those who are looking for something more to enrich their Roman Catholic faith to participate in these courses so they might be inspired not only with the purpose to learn, but at the same time participate with other people globally, learning together the true experience of Communion within the Body of Christ."
Michael Skaggs is a doctoral candidate in the University of Notre Dame Department of History, where he studies interfaith and interracial relations in the Midwest. He spent his undergraduate career at Indiana University Bloomington from 2005-2009 and received an MA in history from the University of Louisville in 2011. He began facilitating STEP courses in January 2015. Michael lives in South Bend, Indiana with his wife Caroline and sons Henry and George.
Katie Smith graduated from the University of Portland in Portland, Oregon in 2006 and proceeded to work as an operations and project manager for a very large manufacturing company before attending graduate school at the University of Notre Dame. Katie graduated with a M.Div. from Notre Dame in the spring of 2014. She currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband and is a full-time project manager for a manufacturing company with a heart for social justice. When she isn’t working Katie loves to spend time with her husband hiking, running, and road biking.
Charles Strauss finishes his Lilly Postdoctoral Fellowship at Valparaiso University in December 2012. In January 2013 he begins a new position as Assistant Professor of History at Mount Saint Mary's University in Emmitsburg, Md. Charles has a PhD in history from the University of Notre Dame and master's degrees in history from the University of Notre Dame and from the University of Cape Town in South Africa. He completed his undergraduate degree at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. Originally from Pittsburgh, Pa., Charles is married to Elizabeth Covington Strauss, also a historian, and has three young children: Anna Louise, Charlie, and Tessa.
Joe Sury is originally from northwest Indiana. He graduated from Northern Arizona University in 1994, with a Bachelor of Science degree in accountancy, and worked as an accountant in the non-profit and corporate accounting settings. In 2006, he followed a call to religious life and discerned this call with the Franciscan Order located in the Saint Barbara Province. During his five years with the Franciscans he was involved in catechesis, lecturing, and youth ministry while pursuing a Masters of Divinity Degree from the Franciscan School of Theology located in Berkeley, California. He left the Franciscan Order in 2011. In 2013, he was granted a Master of Divinity degree. He lives in Sun City, Arizona, with his wife Amelia, where they participate in ministry together.
Colleen Reiss Vermeulen began working with STEP as a graduate student in 2012. Originally from Piscataway, New Jersey, Colleen graduated from Cornell University in 2004 and served as a U.S. Army Engineer for 6.5 years, volunteering in children’s catechesis, young adult ministry, and music ministry. After leaving active duty military service, she began the Masters of Divinity program at the University of Notre Dame, focusing on adult faith formation and evangelization, and graduated in May 2013. In 2015 she finished a Master of Nonprofit Administration degree from Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business. She serves as an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve, teaches at Eastern Michigan University and Siena Heights University, and blogs at https://practicalevangelization.wordpress.com/. She currently resides in Ypsilanti, Michigan, with her husband and two young sons.
Scott Williams is a native of Southern California and currently lives in South Bend, IN. While completing his Ph.D. in Medieval Theology from the University of Oxford, Scott’s Ph.D. Supervisor left Oxford and came to Notre Dame; in turn, Scott followed suit. His dissertation was on Henry of Ghent’s Trinitarian Theology. Henry was a 13th century ‘secular’ priest and theology ‘master’ at the University of Paris. Scott has a B.A. in English Literature and a B.A. in Classics from San Francisco State University. He began working with STEP in the Summer of 2012 and has greatly enjoyed the experience! Scott will be returning to Southern California in August 2012 for a position teaching philosophy at Azusa Pacific University.
Mary Ann Wilson
Mary Ann Wilson is originally from Birmingham, Alabama. She first came to the Midwest to attend the University of Notre Dame for undergraduate studies from 2002-2006, and she returned to attend the ND Master of Divinity program from 2010-2013 with her husband, Ben. Between undergrad and divinity school, Mary Ann worked for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, trained with the Maryknoll Lay Missioners, and served as a high school campus minister. Now a resident of South Bend, Mary Ann works as the Adult Faith Formation Coordinator at St. Matthew Cathedral and volunteers as a catechist for Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. She and Ben have one young son and are members of the extended St. Peter Claver Catholic Worker community.
Regina Wilson currently serves as the Assistant Director of Campus Ministry at Saint Mary's College, Notre Dame, IN. She received her Master's degree in music and worship from the University of Portland and the Master of Divinity from the University of Notre Dame. Prior to working at Saint Mary's, she worked at St. Joseph Parish, South Bend, Indiana as Pastoral Associate. Ms. Wilson also served as the Director for the Office of Worship for the Diocese of Superior in Wisconsin. She has served two other parishes in California and Oregon and is a Benedictine Oblate with the monastery of St. Scholastica in Chicago. Ms. Wilson is married and has two daughters.