STEP Staff

Tom Cummings


I am an Irish Catholic kid from Long Island who came to Notre Dame in the mid-80's and loved it.  I expected to love the football games and parties.  Instead, I was surpised to discover that I Ioved learning and in particular I loved theology.  After serving in the Marine Corps, I returned to ND in 1992 as a seminarian with the Congregation of Holy Cross.  I left the community after my novitiate year before taking vows and then taught high school for several years.  I returned to ND 1996 in order to study theology.  My thesis project for my M.Div. degree was about online learning and theological education.  Sound familiar?  Well, in the process of researching and writing I met the Director of the McGrath Institute for Church Life and (to make a long story short) STEP was born.

Since STEP began, I have fallen in love, married and have three children. My wife, Kathleen, is an historian of American Catholicism and together we have long (my kids think boring) conversations about Catholic life in America.

Being a part of STEP, building partnerships with dioceses, meeting students and facilitators and others involved in building the Kingdom of God has been the great blessing of my life.  I have a tremendous amount of gratitude that God has given me such meaningful work. 

Greg Doyle


I am originally from the Virginia suburbs of Washington DC. After completing undergraduate degrees at Notre Dame, I served in the Navy as a submarine officer in Charleston, SC and then worked at a commercial nuclear power plant in Maryland. I returned to Notre Dame for theological studies, graduating with a Master of Divinity degree. I 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. My wife and I have two sons.

Kelly Culver


I joined the STEP staff in July 2002; I can hardly believe that it’s been so long.  STEP is a great program which allows me to meet many faithful Catholics dedicated to their faith and learning more.  After graduating from Notre Dame’s Masters of Divinity program in 2001, I worked on a sociological study 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.  STEP allows me to share my love for the Church with others. 

Most importantly, I am mom to three children, Benjamin, Sophia, and Joshua.  According to my youngest, all I do is talk about Jesus, but I figure there could be worst things. 

Lisa Orchen


I grew up in Southern California, attended Notre Dame as an undergraduate, and then pursued a corporate career in Hartford, Connecticut. After experiencing a deep call to serve the Church, I returned to Notre Dame and earned a Master of Divinity. I'm a certified chaplain with the National Association of Catholic Chaplains and have served as a hospital chaplain, director of campus ministry, and as a pastoral associate for a vibrant parish in Connecticut.

My relationship with STEP began almost ten years ago. Over the years, I have served as a facilitator and occasional course developer. In 2012, I began working on our initiative which supports the adult faith development of those involved in Catholic Education. I live outside of Hartford, Connecticut with my husband, John, and two children. In addition to our busy family life and my work with STEP, I serve as a catechist for the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd in my parish, lead workshops and retreats, and do occasional writing for Liturgy Training Publications. I truly enjoy each course I have the privilege to facilitate through STEP. Meeting others on their journey of faith and walking alongside them for a bit is a source of great joy in my life!

Esther Terry


I joined the Notre Dame community in 2008 after earning undergraduate degrees in English and Spanish literature from Hillsdale College. For several years I worked at the Kellogg Institute for International Studies on campus and, in May 2013, I earned a Master of Theological Studies degree.

As a recent addition to the STEP team, I am eager to take part in the development of Camino, a new program of online theology courses in Spanish. My life has been enriched by time spent in Mexico, Guatemala, and Peru—as well as with communities of Latin American immigrants—and I am blessed to participate in an initiative that will serve the growing numbers of Spanish-speaking Catholics in the U.S. I am passionate about theological education, and I look forward to building partnerships with others committed to educating and equipping leaders for Hispanic ministry in the Church.

Laura Hartz


I hold an Associate of Arts degree from Holy Cross College Notre Dame and a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Notre Dame. I am the first person in my family to receive a Notre Dame degree but the fourth generation of my family to work at the university. My grandparents met working here and married in the Lady Chapel of Sacred Heart Basilica. My great-grandfather’s house was located where Flanner Hall now stands, a stone’s throw from STEP’s home in Geddes Hall. I live in Niles, Michigan with my husband, Matthew and our children, Elizabeth and Robert. Since starting at STEP in 2004 I have become more active in my own parish. I enjoyed several years of teaching religious education to four year olds. I am inspired weekly by the passion of STEP students.

Lou Weber


I like people. I like computers. I like participating in my local parish. I like Notre Dame. I love my wife and my four sons. I’m grateful for my role with STEP, where I can balance all of these things that are so important to me.

I joined the STEP staff in the summer of 2011. As the junior member, it’s inspiring to see the experience and dedication of the rest of the team. As a practicing Catholic, it’s inspiring to learn from my colleagues, from STEP students, and from the wider community of the Institute for Church Life.

Before joining STEP, I was the at-home father for my boys. Before that, I worked with online commerce, taught high school math, explored actuarial science, earned two graduate degrees, and received an undergraduate degree from Notre Dame. I grew up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and still savor my rare opportunities to return there. My hobbies include photography, cooking, and soccer.