Open Track
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The Open Track provides Non-Track participants with additional workshops from which to choose. These workshops will address current issues and trends within the catechetical field, the Church and the world in order to equip the catechist to more effectively proclaim the Gospel in today’s rapidly changing society. These workshops are new each year, and therefore provide participants with excellent opportunities for on-going formation. Also, non-track participants can choose from ANY workshop in ANY track to further customize your conference experience.

2018 Open Track Workshops:

Digital Catechesis: Using Tech Tools to Teach Eternal Truths

Living the Renewal in a Parish Setting

Catechesis for Persons with Disabilities

Ministering to People with Same-Sex Attraction

Pastorally Supporting Marriages in a Parish

Crucial Questions in a High School Classroom

The Chief Characteristics of Mentorship in Ministry

Historical/Social Studies and the Catholic Faith

The Method of the Master: Multiplying Discipleship in the Parish

What is the Way Forward for a Diocese, Parish, School, or Family to Develop Counseling Approaches?

Studying and Learning the Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Preventive System of St. John Bosco: Reason, Religion, and Kindness

Spiritual Accountability: The Foundation of Pastoral Accompaniment

Art and Catechesis

Spiritual Warfare

The Four Temperments Applied to Ministry Work

Domestic Church and School of Holiness

Teaching to Pray

How to Avoid Death by Meeting: A Strategy for Healthy Leadership Teams

How to NOT be BORING: Getting Children’s Attention and Keeping It


Track Presenters
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Dr. Carole Brown is the Director of Evangelization and Missionary Discipleship in the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. She earned a Master’s Degree in Theology and Christian Ministry, with a specialization in Catechetics, from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 1997and served at Franciscan University as Director of Evangelistic Outreach for 8 years. She completed her PhD in Systematic Theology in Dublin in 2010. Her dissertation was entitled Crossing the Threshold of Faith: Pope John Paul II’s Approach to the Problem of the Conversion of the Baptized. While in Ireland she helped to establish Ireland’s first Christian radio station, Spirit Radio.

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Dr. Chris Burgwald was born and raised in a small town in central Minnesota. While he was raised as a Catholic, he stopped practicing his faith in college until a “chance” encounter his junior year brought him back to the faith. The flame that was ignited then ultimately led him to doctoral studies in theology and an adult life spent deepening his own faith, sharing it with others and equipping other Catholics do the same. Chris and his wife Germaine and their five children live in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where Chris has served the Diocese of Sioux Falls as the Director of Adult Discipleship & Evangelization since 2002.

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Ryan Hanning teaches theology, church history, and Catholic studies and writes and speaks internationally on modern objections to religious faith. He serves as the Asst. VP and Director of Cultural Advancement at the University of Mary Tempe where he is also a faculty member in the School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Education. He is a certified presenter for Havard Virtuous Leadership Institute, a faculty member for the Kino Catechetical Institute and a fellow of the Institute for Catholic Theology. He holds degrees from Arizona Student University and Northern Arizona University, and a PhD from Maryvale Institute in England, and currently resides in Mesa, AZ with his beautiful wife Rebecca, and their 9 well socialized homeschooled children.

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Ann Lankford has served as the director for the Office of Catechesis and Evangelization for the Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin, since 2002. She received her MA in theology and Christian ministry with a specialization in catechetics from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 1998 and received the St. John Bosco Conference DRE Certification. At heart, Ann is a “people person.” Helping children, young people, and adults to fall in love with Jesus Christ and to be more fully committed to him in every area of their lives gives her great joy.

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Marcel LeJeune is the assistant director of Campus Ministry at St. Mary’s Catholic Center at Texas A&M University, the country’s largest campus ministry, where he oversees the ministry team and the daily operation of ministries and programs. A certified campus minister, Marcel holds a master of theological studies from Ave Maria University, specializing in pastoral theology, and travels the country to speak about the Catholic faith. He is the author of two books, contributor to three books, and has had many articles published in magazines, Catholic newspapers, and on websites. He is also the author of one of the most popular Catholic blogs in the country. Marcel is a regular guest on EWTN Radio and Relevant Radio and has appeared on EWTN Television. Marcel and his wife, Kristy, have five children.

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Father Louis Molinelli, SDB, made his first profession as a Salesian in 1981 and was ordained a priest in 1990. He graduated from Don Bosco College with a BA in philosophy and a teaching certificate in mathematics. He received an MA in sacred Scripture and a master of divinity from the Pontifical College Josephinum. He later earned a master’s in education (school administration) from Boston College. He has been a teacher, assistant coordinator of youth ministry, academic dean, and principal. He served as the principal for six years at St. Petersburg Catholic High School, St. Petersburg, Florida, and he was the director and president of the Don Bosco Preparatory High School in Ramsey, New Jersey. Father Lou spent one year as parochial vicar at Corpus Christi Church in Port Chester, New York. Since 2011, Father Lou has been the director of Archbishop Shaw High School in Marrero, Louisiana.

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Ken Ogorek is the archdiocesan catechetical director in Indianapolis and a consultant with the Evangelium Consulting Group, which works with pastors and other Catholic leaders to enhance, by God’s grace, the ministries they oversee, such as catechesis. After earning a master’s degree from the Pontifical Center for Catechetical Studies, Ken taught high school religion, then served as assistant diocesan catechetical director in Pittsburgh for 10 years before returning to his native Hoosier state in 2007. With his bride of 20-plus years and their children, Ken is a parishioner at St. Pius X in Indianapolis. His efforts were recently acknowledged by his peers when they elected him to a term as president of the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He will be speaking at the St. John Bosco Conference.

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Dr. Gerard O’Shea is associate dean and senior lecturer in Religious Education and Family Catechesis at the Australian campus of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family Studies in Melbourne. He also serves as associate professor of religious education at the University of Notre Dame Australia, Sydney campus. Previously, Dr. O’Shea was involved in Catholic education as a teacher and principal for over 30 years. Part of the writing team for the Australian religious education text To Know, Worship, and Love, his own parent resource, As I Have Loved You, helps parents train their children in a Catholic vision of sexuality. Dr. O’Shea and his wife, Anne, served a five-year term as president couple for the National Association of Catholic Families (2003-2007). They have five children and six grandchildren. He will be speaking at the St. John Bosco Conference.

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Sister M. Johanna Paruch, FSGM, a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George, holds a BA in theology and elementary education from St. Louis University, a pontifical catechetical diploma, an MA in religious education from the Angelicum, and a PhD in theology from Maryvale Institute, Birmingham, England. Sister Johanna has been involved in religious education for over 25 years. She currently serves as an associate professor of theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville, specializing in catechetics. Her first publication, Mentors in the New Evangelization: Catechetical Saints of North America, became available in 2013. She will be speaking at the St. John Bosco Conference.

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Dr. Greg Popcak is the author of many books and the director of the Pastoral Solutions Institute, an organization providing Catholic-integrated tele-counseling services to the faithful worldwide. Together with his wife, Lisa, he is the host of More2Life Radio, airing weekdays at 10am Eastern across the EWTN Radio Network and on SiriusXM 130. In addition to his ministry work, Dr. Popcak is the director of the MA in Pastoral Studies program at Holy Apostles College.

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Lisa Popcak is the Vice-President of the Pastoral Solutions Institute, and author of many books on marriage and parenting.  Together with her husband, Greg, she is the host of More2Life Radio, airing weekdays at 10am Eastern across the EWTN Radio Network and on SiriusXM 130.

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Sister John Dominic Rasmussen, OP, was born in Berkley, California and moved to Nashville, Tennessee at the age of five. She converted to Catholicism during her sophomore year and entered the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia in 1982. In 1997, she and three other Sisters founded the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Sister has been involved in Catholic education for over 30 years as both a teacher and administrator. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Education from Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee and a Masters degree in Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville. In 2001, she co-authored with Carol Kennedy, Remain in Me, a Faith Formation curriculum for catechetical instruction. Sister currently serves as the Principal of Spiritus Sanctus Academy in Ann Arbor, Michigan. From her experience in administration and teacher she has developed Disciple of Christ-Education in Virtue, a Christian curriculum structured on the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas regarding the virtues and gifts of the Holy Spirit.

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Rania Saade has been handing on the faith in Catholic high schools for 10 years. After earning her MA in theology and Christian ministry with a specialization in catechetics from Franciscan University of Steubenville, she went on to teach at St. Pius X High School, a co-ed archdiocesan school in Albuquerque, New Mexico. For the last four years, she has been teaching at Jesuit High School, an all-boys college preparatory school in Tampa, Florida. Rania has taught a variety of courses in theology and has taught students in every grade level of high school.

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Sister Ann Shields, SGL, is an internationally known evangelist, noted speaker, and author whose activities have taken her to Eastern Europe, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the Caribbean, Central America, Israel, the Philippines, and the British Isles. Based in Ann Arbor, she is a member of the Servants of God’s Love, a Catholic charismatic religious community canonically established in the Diocese of Lansing, Michigan. She hosts the daily radio program Food for the Journey, heard on 35 U.S. and Canadian stations and the Internet. Some of Sister Ann’s works include Deeper Conversion: Extraordinary Grace in Ordinary Times, Hope in the Midst of Suffering, and Yielding to the Power of God, as well as And Their Eyes Were Opened: Encountering Jesus in the Sacraments, co-authored with Father Michael Scanlan, TOR.

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Robert Siemens – biographical information coming soon!

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Dr. Jem Sullivan is a wife and mother, professor and author. Jem holds a doctorate from the Catholic University of America. For the past seventeen years, she has served as adjunct faculty in the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C. In August 2017, Dr. Sullivan was appointed by Cardinal Donald Wuerl as Secretary for Education in the Archdiocese of Washington. Jem writes for a variety of Catholic publications on art and the New Evangelization, including art essays in Magnificat. She is the author of three books from Our Sunday Visitor: A Study Guide to the United States Catholic Catechism for AdultsThe Beauty of Faith: Christian Art and the New Evangelization; and Opening the Door of Faith: A Catechists’ Guide to the New Evangelization. She has also written an illustrated children’s book on Saint John Paul II titled Karol: the Boy Who Became Pope. She has served as catechetical consultant for various Catholic dioceses. Jem is a featured guest on EWTN News Nightly where she discusses masterpieces of Christian art. She hosted and wrote a one hour documentary special on sacred art and evangelization that aired on EWTN, and has served as docent at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC., where she led public tours of the museum’s masterpiece collections. Jem and her family are members of Saint Jerome’s Catholic Church, Hyattsville, Maryland.

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Dave VanVickle fell in love with the Lord at age 14 and has dedicated his life to bringing others into a radical relationship with Christ. He currently serves as the director of Evangelization at St. Bonaventure’s Parish in Glenshaw, Pennsylvania. In addition to his position at the parish, Dave is the young adult coordinator for the National Service Committee of the Charismatic Renewal. He resides in Pittsburgh with his wife, Amber, and their four children, Sam, Max, Judah, and Josie.

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Nikki Westby, MALPC, is a licensed counselor in Phoenix, Arizona. She received her MA in Counseling from Franciscan University in 1995. After working for two years in a parish, she opened her own private practice, which she runs out of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Phoenix. Her primary focus is on women’s issues and healing the whole person. Since 2000, she has been involved with Rachel’s Vineyard ministries. She sits on the diocesan priest placement board. She is a diet and lifestyle consultant for the Wellness Forum of Columbus, Ohio. She is wife to a Canadian doctor, and mother to five daughters.

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Dr. Joseph White is a child and family psychologist and national catechetical consultant for Our Sunday Visitor Publishing and Curriculum. He has worked as a parish catechetical leader and spent seven years as director of Family Counseling and Family Life in the Diocese of Austin. A frequent guest on Catholic television and radio, Dr. White is the author of 10 books and numerous articles on catechesis and ministry, and he co-authored the Allelu and Alive in Christ catechetical series.