Past Presenters

Irene Alexander MA, PhD Candidate

Irene Alexander graduated from the University of Scranton magna cum laude in 2006 with a Bachelor of Arts double major in Philosophy and Theology with a concentration in Catholic Studies. In May of 2006 she received the University of Scranton's departmental awards for excellence in both Philosophy and Theology. Seeking to understand the relationship between faith and reason more deeply, she went on to study the Catholic intellectual tradition at Ave Maria University in Florida. In 2008, she earned her Master of Arts in Theology summa cum laude and is now currently finishing up her PhD in moral theology with a minor in systematic theology at Ave Maria. Her doctoral dissertation is on "Human Dignity and the Primacy of the Common Good according to the Wisdom of St.Thomas Aquinas." Irene is currently an adjunct professor of philosophy and theology for the Augustine Institute in CO via distance learning. She resides in Chandler, AZ with her husband and two children.

Sr. Jude Andrew, OP

Sister Jude Andrew has been a member of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist for over ten years. The community, based out of Ann Arbor, MI has Sisters across the country teaching kindergarten through the university levels; Sister is currently teaching sixth, seventh, and eighth grade social studies at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic School here in Phoenix. She grew up at a Dominican parish in Portland, Oregon before entering the community, obtained her teaching degree at Eastern Michigan University and is enrolled in a Masters of Theology program at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia.

Dr. Peter Auriemma

Dr. Peter Auriemma was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. He graduated from the Medical School of the Autonomous University of Guadalajara, Mexico, and he completed his Post Graduate Surgical training in New York and Chicago. He is a specialist in Urologic Surgery and Oncology. He is married to Dr. Nanette Auriemma, and they have one son, Anthony. He was ordained to the Permanent Diaconate for the Diocese of Phoenix on November 8, 2014, and he is the Deacon and Director of Hispanic Catechesis and Evangelization at St. Joan of Arc Parish in Phoenix. He has been giving this lecture on the death of Jesus since 1988.

Fr. Robert Bolding, MDiv, M.Ed

Fr. Robert Bolding is a priest in the Diocese of Phoenix. He is the President-Rector of St. Mary’s High School, where he has taught and ministered since 2009. Fr. Bolding attended the Pontifical College Josephinum and holds a Master’s degree in education from the University of Notre Dame.

Joe Cady

Joe Cady holds degrees in Philosophy and Religious Studies from Arizona State University, as well as a master's degree in Theology from Holy Apostles College and Seminary. He has worked for over ten years in Catholic parishes in youth ministry, adult faith formation, social ministry, and sacramental preparation. Joe is currently Director of Adult Catechesis at St. Timothy Catholic Church, adjunct professor of Theology at the University of Mary-Tempe, and instructor at Kino Catechetical Institute. He is the Author of Truth Be Told and Faith and Reason(s). Joe and his wife currently live in Tempe, AZ with their seven children.

Dcn. Billy Chavira

I began my career as an instructor of clinical OBGYN which I soon left to begin my private practice. It was at about this time when I met Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted who truly served as a spiritual father to me, allowing me to fully embrace, understand, and promote the teachings of Humanae Vitae. It was through the encouragement of priests and deacons where I began to again discern a call to Holy Orders, but this time to the permanent diaconate. With the support of my wife and children, I began the process of formation. The Holy Spirit has lead me on a journey; opening pathways and doors so that God’s will may be done. I do not know where my journey will end but I say “yes” to the Lord knowing that if I seek to do His will there will be peace and joy in my busy life as a father, husband, physician, and community leader. St. John Paul II says that the greatest gift a permanent deacon can give the Church is the foundation of a strong family, imaging the love of the blessed trinity. “Diakonia” means service, a deacon must first serve his family then the community.

Fr. Rob Clements

Fr. Rob Clements is a fourth-generation native of the state of Arizona, and is a convert to the Catholic Faith. Graduating from local schools, from Arizona State University, and working for Valley National Bank following university studies, he discerned a call to the priesthood and entered St. John’s Seminary, Los Angeles, in 1985. Following sacred ordination in 1990, Fr. Clements has served the diocese in a number of pastoral and educational settings prior to his current assignment as the Director of the All Saints Catholic Newman Center at Arizona State University. He has served on the Priest Placement Board, the Board of Directors for Phoenix Natural Family Planning, and the Catholic Community Foundation.

Sr. Mary David Klocek, OP

Sr. Mary David Klocek, OP is a Dominican Sister of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. The community is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan and has a presence here at St. Thomas the Apostle parish, where the Sisters live. The Sisters teach both at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic School, and also at St. Mary’s Catholic High School. Sr. Mary David teaches Theology at St. Mary’s High School. She has studied at a number of excellent Catholic universities, and is happy to be sharing the fruits of what she has learned with her students.

Rob Drapeau, MA.Ed.

Rob Drapeau is a teacher and writer with over ten years experience teaching Theology to students ranging from fifth graders in their wonder years to retirees in their golden years. He spent eight years as a Theology Instructor at Brophy College Preparatory and has taught Monday School, a theology-for-beginners class at St. Thomas the Apostle, for the past two years. Rob has an BA in Religious Studies from the University of Arizona and an MAEd in Educational Technology from the University of Phoenix.

Currently, Rob owns and operates wordSwell, a small, business writing company, and teaches Theology, Latin, and Language Arts at St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe School in Phoenix.

Rob is the proud father of Sophia, Joseph, Olivia, Annamaria Francesca, Max, and Gemma, and the happy husband of Amy.

Claire Dwyer

Claire Dwyer received her undergraduate degree in Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville is in the graduate program of Spiritual Theology through the Avila Institute. She blogs about faith and family life at eventhesparrow.com and contributes regularly to womenofgrace.com and catholicmom.com. Claire is an advisor to the pro-life and pro-family organization Family Life Council, and enjoys speaking locally and facilitating women’s studies at St. Thomas the Apostle. She and her husband Delaney have six children and have been parishioners at St. Thomas for 13 years.

Rev. John Ehrich MA, M.Div., STL

Founder

Rev. John Ehrich, STL, was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Phoenix in 2000. He earned his M.A. from St. Meinrad Seminary in 1998 and his MDiv in 2000. After five years of parish ministry, he studied moral theology at the Accademia Alfonsiana in Rome where he earned his Licentiate in Sacred Theology in 2007. Fr. Ehrich is the founder of the St. Thomas the Apostle Institute of Catholic Theology.

Rebecca Feaster

Rebecca founded Feaster & Associates after working in a variety of strategic communication leadership positions in the United States and internationally. She has facilitated and presented seminars and training around the world, and is known for her high-energy presentations and workshops. Rebecca specializes in "best-in-class" crisis communication and leadership communication training, developing communication training curriculum, facilitating community engagements, and providing cultural awareness programs. She holds a Master of International Policy from the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, a Bachelor's of Arts degree in economics from Tufts University. In 2007, Ms. Feaster completed her fellowship program on Culture, Religion and World Affairs at Boston University.

Rev. Christopher Fraser, MA, M.Div., JCL

Rev. Christopher Fraser was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Phoenix in June of 2001. Before entering St. Meinrad Seminary, he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business from Arizona State University in 1994. Upon graduation, he was employed at the School of Law at Arizona State until 1996 when he entered the seminary to study for the Priesthood for the Diocese of Phoenix. He received an MDiv from St. Meinrad School of Theology in 2001 and was ordained June 2, 2001. Fr. Fraser’s parish assignments were Parochial Vicar at SS. Simon and Jude Cathedral and St. Andrew the Apostle. In 2004, Fr. Fraser was sent to the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC to study canon law, where he earned a licentiate in Canon Law in 2006. Upon graduation, he returned to Phoenix to work full time in the Tribunal, where he has served as the Judicial Vicar since December of 2007.

Steve Greene

Steve Greene is the Director of Kino Catechetical Institute He is also the co-host, with his wife, Becky, of “The Catholic Conversation” radio program, which airs weekly in Phoenix on AM 1310, Immaculate Heart Radio. He holds a Masters degree in Catholic Thought and Life from St. Meinrad School of Theology. Since moving to the Diocese of Phoenix in 1997, Steve has taught the Catholic faith in a variety of capacities: as a youth minister, high school theology teacher, professor of philosophy, theology and catechetics, and in stand-alone presentations on a wide variety of topics. Steve has also been featured as a guest on The Bishop’s Hour radio program, Catholics Matter television program, and in The Catholic Sun newspaper. He and his wife have four children and one little intercessor in heaven. They are members of St. Timothy Catholic Parish in Mesa, AZ.

Ryan Hanning, M.Ed, PhD

Ryan Hanning is the Assistant VP and Director of Cultural Advancement at the University of Mary Tempe where he also teaches Church History and Catholic Studies. He writes and speaks internationally on modern objections to religious faith and obstacles to conversion. His undergraduate degree is in Religious studies and his post graduate work was in education and historical theology. He is completing his PhD on the development of doctrine and catechesis in the Eastern Church at Maryvale Institute, England, and currently resides in Mesa, AZ with his beautiful wife Rebecca, and their 8 well socialized homeschooled children.

Trent Horn

After his conversion to the Catholic Faith, Trent Horn earned a master's degree in theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville and is currently pursuing a graduate degree in philosophy from Holy Apostles College. He serves as a staff apologist for Catholic Answers and specializes in teaching Catholics how to graciously and persuasively engage those who disagree with them. Trent models that approach each week on the radio program Catholic Answers Live where he dialogues with atheists, pro-choice advocates, and other non-Catholic callers. Trent is a lecturer who travels throughout the world speaking on subjects related to the Catholic faith and is the co-host of Hearts and Minds, a weekly radio program that discusses timely issues from an eternal perspective. Trent is also the author of three books including Answering Atheism, Persuasive Pro-life, and his latest book Hard Sayings: A Catholic Approach to Answering Bible Difficulties.

Fr. Steve Kunkel, MDiv

Rev. Steve Kunkel is the pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Phoenix, Arizona. Raised in an Army family, Fr. Kunkel graduated from FSU (Fayetteville State University) with a BS in Computer Science. After working for Wachovia Bank, he entered the seminary, studying at St. Meinrad Seminary, earning and MDiv. He was ordained for the Diocese of Phoenix in 2001 and has been pastor of Resurrection Parish in Tempe and Christ the King Parish in Mesa.

Christa Lopiccolo

Originally from Connecticut, Christa received her B.A. in Theology from the University of Notre Dame, her M.A. in Theology from the Franciscan University of Steubenville and recently completed a master’s in social work from the University of Maryland, Baltimore. With her education, she has sought to share the beauty and richness of the Catholic faith through her varied work experience – from teaching in a Catholic high school and a Catholic college, to working with at-risk teenage girls at a therapeutic ranch program in Wyoming. Recently, Christa served at the Archdiocese of Washington as the Executive Director for the Department of Life Issues – a position that she held for over 8 years. Inspired by Pope Francis’ reference to the Church as a “field hospital,” Christa is currently using her clinical social work degree in the addiction treatment field, where she strives to bring the hope and healing of Christ to an ever expanding population of souls trapped in the cycle of addiction.

Thomas Lordan, MA, JD

Thomas Lordan graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1971 with a B.A. major in Philosophy, and graduated from the University of Notre Dame Law School in 1974. He was a member of the Notre Dame London Center for Legal Studies in London, England during the 1972-1973 academic year. In 1996, he received an M.A. in Politics, with a concentration in political theory, from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and completed all but his dissertation for the Ph.D. degree. Thomas has been a practicing lawyer since 1974, and is licensed in Arizona, Ohio, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. His practice has been primarily in commercial law, both litigation and transactions.

Fr. Matt Lowry

Fr. Matt Lowry grew up in a faithful family in the Phoenix area. His faith increased through opportunities as a child, while attending Catholic grade school, through participation in his high school youth group, and when volunteering during college. These small steps led to an increase of faith and a discernment of a call to priesthood. Fr. Matt was ordained in 2008, and in 2009 was named Associate Vocation Director and Chaplain of the Newman Center at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona. There he works to foster a culture where young people are able to respond and grow in faith in order to become lifelong committed Catholics.

Dr. Ramon Luzarraga

Ramon Luzarraga is assistant professor and chair of the Department of Theology at Benedictine University at Mesa. He holds a masters of arts in religion from Yale Divinity School and a doctorate in systematic theology and ethics from Marquette University. He speaks and publishes in both of these fields.

Bill Marcotte

Bill Marcotte is the Director of Evangelization and Discipleship at St. Andrew the Apostle Parish in Chandler, AZ. As one who has over 25 years of experience in Catholic pastoral ministry experience at both parish and diocesan levels, Bill Marcotte brings with him a wide-ranging knowledge and expertise in non-profit management and developing program strategies, including collaborative communication, visionary leadership and spearheading volunteer project teams.

Prior to Bill’s appointment at St. Andrew’s, he served as Director of Youth and Young Adult Evangelization for the Diocese of Phoenix for over 5. He is also an active board member of the National Service Committee of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal.

Bill holds a Masters of Theology Degree from the University of San Francisco. Has been a frequent workshop speaker at the St. John Bosco Conference in Steubenville, Ohio and speaks at various conferences and workshops throughout the Diocese of Phoenix.

He married his lovely wife Beth in January of 1987. They have five children.

Kevin Muir

Kevin Muir is an administrator, teacher and coach with 10+ years working with students ranging from middle school to high school. He is currently the Assistant Principal at Saint Mary’s Catholic High School. Kevin spent eight years as a mathematics teacher and coach at the high school level and has been a school administrator at Saint Mary’s for 3 years. He has a BA in Education from the University of Arizona and a M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University. Most importantly, Kevin is a very proud and devoted husband and father of 3.

Tom Perna

Tom began his journey in education as a substitute teacher in 2002 for the Diocese of Phoenix, after a few years in the business world. In 2004, he accepted a full-time teaching position at St. Mary's Catholic High School where he taught theology for four years. In 2008, Tom decided to leave teaching at St. Mary's to pursue a Masters in Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville. After graduate school at Franciscan, he was a high school theology teacher in Austin for two years. He has also worked for a variety of parishes in different positions. Tom also holds a Masters in Education from the University of Phoenix and a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from the University of San Francisco. While attending USF, Tom studied the Great Books of Western Civilization and upon graduation received a Great Books Certificate from the St. Ignatius Institute. Currently, Tom Perna is the Director of Adult Evangelization and Catechesis at Saint Mary Magdalene Catholic Church. In addition to his work at the parish, Tom also writes on his own blog – TomPerna.org, which is often featured on New Advent.org, and Bigpulpit.com

Mike Phelan

Mike Phelan serves as Director of Marriage and Respect Life for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix for the past 10 years. He holds a Masters degree in Theological Studies from the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family Studies at the Catholic University of America. He is a periodic columnist for the Catholic Sun. Other than coaching and attempting to still play basketball as well as fighting the good fight for marriage, family and human life, he keeps his feet firmly planted in the soil of the Shire. Mike and his wife of nineteen years, Sharon, reside with their six children in Mesa, Arizona.

Simone Rizkallah, MA

Simone Rizkallah, a 2010 MA Theology graduate of Christendom College, is the daughter of immigrants from the Armenian Diaspora of Cairo, Egypt. Her family initially left Armenia due to the Genocide of 1915 and then later left Cairo in the 1970s to avoid the growing persecution of Christians there. She was the first one born in the U.S. and studied marketing communion and drama in college before discovering that her passion for the Faith and her desire to know it better and to share it was a calling to teach theology and to evangelize. She currently teaches at St. Mary’s Catholic High School and leads the local chapter of the ecclesial movement of Communion and Liberation in Phoenix, Arizona.

Gayle Somers, MA

Gayle Somers has a B.A. from the University of New Orleans and an M.A. in Theological Studies from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in S. Hamilton, MA. She worked on the staff of an evangelical church in the Midwest for three years, teaching and counseling university students. She was a part-time Lecturer in Philosophy at Gordon College, in Wenham, MA, and a contributor to the Woman's Study Bible published by Thomas Nelson. In 1995, she and her husband, with their three children, were received into the Catholic Church.

She has been writing and leading parish Bible studies since 1996. She is the author of three bible studies, Galatians: A New Kind of Freedom Defended (Basilica Press), Genesis: God and His Creation and Genesis: God and His Family (Emmaus Road Publishing). She is a research fellow with the St. Paul Center (www.salvationhistory.com), which promotes biblical literacy for laymen and biblical fluency for clergy. Gayle is a parishioner at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic church, where she currently teaches adult bible classes.

Christina Strafaci

Christina Strafaci has worked in the Diocese of Phoenix since 2005, teaching for the Kino Institute, the University of Mary Tempe, and St. Mary's Catholic High School. She holds a Masters of Theological Studies from the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, as well as graduate degrees in French Literature from UNC-Chapel Hill. She has an extensive background in education, while she also devotes time to event planning, photography, and writing about the mission of the domestic church in building a culture of life.

Rev. Oliver R Vietor, M.Div.

Rev. Oliver Vietor has a B.S. from the United States Naval Academy and a M.Div. from Yale University Divinity School. He was ordained in the Catholic Church under the terms of the Pastoral Provision for former Episcopal clergymen. He and his wife, Ashley, and their six children have lived in Phoenix since 2005 and began attending St. Thomas the Apostle in 2007. He taught in the Institute last year and has taught previously in his ministry and in high school.

Eric Westby Phd

Director

Eric J. Westby is the Director of Parish and School Catechesis as well as the Director of the Institute of Catholic Theology. He holds a Masters of Arts degree in Theology and Christian Ministry from Franciscan University in Steubenville and a PhD from the Maryvale Institute of Birmingham, England. He holds a Certificate in Youth Ministry Studies from the Center for Ministry Development, and has been involved in parish catechesis since 1988. He is a regular presenter at the summer St. John Bosco Catechetical Conference at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is the founder of ymcentral.com and rciacentral.com. More importantly, he is husband to Nikki and father of five beautiful girls. Everyone agrees he married up.

Katrina J. Zeno, MTS

Katrina J. Zeno, MTS, is the coordinator of the John Paul II Resource Center for Theology of the Body and Culture for the Diocese of Phoenix, AZ, (tobcenter.org) and the co-foundress of Women of the Third Millennium (wttm.org). Katrina co-hosted a 13-part series on EWTN on Pope John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body,” and she is the author of Discovering the Feminine Genius; The Body Reveals God; and When Life Doesn’t Go Your Way. As an international speaker, Katrina has spoken across the US, and in Rome, Slovakia, Switzerland, Austria, England, Canada, Guatemala, and Trinidad, and over 50 of her articles have appeared in national Catholic publications and on-line. Born and raised in San Diego, California, Katrina earned her BA in theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio, and she recently completely her master's in theological studies at the John Paul II Institute in Washington, DC. Katrina's enthusiasm, real-life examples, and engaging speaking style appeal to married as well as single people.