Program Director, Thriving in Ministry Initiative
McGrath Institute for Church Life
Notre Dame, Indiana
As the Program Director of the Thriving in Ministry Initiative, Katherine directs four important outreach efforts, three of which are supported by Lilly Endowment, Inc. Katherine works to prepare pastoral leaders for long-term ministry in the Church in the Strong Foundations for Catholic Leaders program; provides intellectual and spiritual renewal for invited diocesan priests in the Bishop John M. D’Arcy Program in Priestly Renewal; and is partnering with Iskali to create cultures of affiliation in the Hispanic Catholic Church in the United States through the Young Adult Innovation Hub. The fourth initiative, generously supported by Gibney, seeks to re-propose the Holy Family of Nazareth as the foundation for catechetical renewal within the domestic Hispanic Church. This program is being piloted in the Archdiocese of San Antonio and the Diocese of Raleigh.
Parish Vitality Specialist
Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Ohio
Leisa Anslinger brings her experience in Catholic parishes, schools, and diocesan leadership to her ministry as an author, presenter, and coach. Leisa is the Founder of Catholic Life and Faith, focusing on servant leadership, parishioner engagement, and strengths development. She currently serves as a Parish Vitality Specialist for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Leisa is a wife, mother, and grandmother who resides in Lebanon, Tennessee. (If more is needed: Leisa holds a bachelor’s degree from St. Mary-of-the-Woods College and master’s degrees from Purdue University and the Athenaeum of Ohio.)
Sister Altagracia Arias
Sister Altagracia Arias is a certified Catholic instructor. She has taught for over 30 years in parishes and ecclesial movements throughout the Archdiocese of New York. She is certified in RCIA, Doctrine of the Church, and Holy Scriptures with a specialization in Mariology. Sister Arias received her B.A. in Psychology/Sociology and received her master’s degree in social work. She has taught hundreds of students in the Northeast Hispanic Catholic Center and the John Paul II School of Evangelization.
Director of the Catechumenate
Office of Adult Faith Formation
Archdiocese of New York, New York
Oscar Cruz es actualmente el director del Catecumenado en la Arquidiócesis de Nueva York. Anterior a este puesto de ministerio, se desempeñó como director Arquidiocesana de la catequesis para familias y la formación de fe adulta. También sirvió como un director de educación religiosa, ministerio juvenil y RICA en una parroquia en Nueva York durante once años. Fue presidente del departamento de religión y miembro de la facultad de Cardinal Hayes High School y subdirector de Annunciation Elementary School, ambos en la ciudad de Nueva York. Oscar tiene una Maestría en Estudios Religiosos del Seminario San Jose en Yonkers. Recibió su BA en Educación, Historia y Teología en Manhattan College. Oscar está casado y tiene dos hijos adultos. Él es originario de Puerto Rico pero creció en el sur del Bronx. Actualmente, Oscar es un miembro del equipo de la Oficina de Formación de Fe para Adultos en la Arquidiócesis de Nueva York. Es un delegado de Nueva York para el Encuentro Nacional. Es un presentador frecuente de talleres sobre el RICA, la Catequesis Familiar y la Formación de Fe para Adultos aquí en la Arquidiócesis y en otras diócesis alrededor del país.
Most Reverend Manuel A. Cruz, D.D.
Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Newark | Obispo auxiliar Arquidiócesis de Newark
Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Newark, was born in Havana, Cuba on December 2, 1953 to the late Juan and Caridad Cruz. He came to the United States in 1966 with his parents, spending a year in Florida before moving to Union City, NJ. There he attended Union City public schools. Bishop Cruz is a graduate of Seton Hall University and studied for the priesthood at Immaculate Conception Seminary, Darlington, NJ. He was ordained a priest for service in the Archdiocese of Newark on May 31, 1980 — the first Cuban-born priest ordained in the Archdiocese. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and a Master of Arts degree in Sacred Scripture from Seton Hall University. Following his ordination in 1980, Fr. Cruz served as a parochial vicar at Holy Rosary Parish in Elizabeth. In 1982, he was appointed a parochial vicar at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Newark. In 1986, he was appointed to the Archdiocesan Vocations Committee. From 1991 to 1993, he served as Dean of Deanery 19, Northern Newark. In 1995 he became a chaplain at Saint Michael’s Medical Center and later was named director of the Archdiocese’s Office of Pastoral Care in 2003. In this position, he directed the full range of Catholic chaplain and pastoral care services at all hospitals and medical centers within the Archdiocese. In 2000, Pope John Paul II bestowed upon Fr. Cruz the honorary title Chaplain to His Holiness, with the title Monsignor. In 2005, Newark Archbishop John J. Myers named Msgr. Cruz vice president for Mission and Ministry for Catholic Health and Human Services, the health care and social services arm of the Archdiocese. He has served as a member of the Institutional Review Board of several New Jersey hospitals, as a member of the Ethics Committee of Saint Michael’s Medical Center, and as a member of the New Jersey Catholic Conference’s Committee on Ethics, and is a lecturer in neuropathology at UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, Newark. On June 9, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI named Msgr. Cruz Titular Bishop of Gaguari and an Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Newark. His episcopal ordination was held on September 8, 2008. Today he serves in the Archdiocese as Regional Bishop of Union County, Vicar for the Archdiocese’s Hispanic Apostolate, and Rector of the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart.
El Reverendísimo Manuel A. Cruz, D.D., Obispo Titular de Gaguari y Obispo Auxiliar de la Arquidiócesis de Newark, nació en La Habana, Cuba el 2 de diciembre de 1953, hijo de los difuntos Juan y Caridad Cruz. Llegó a los Estados Unidos en 1966 con sus padres, pasó un año en Florida antes de mudarse a Union City, NJ. Allí asistió a las escuelas públicas de Union City. El obispo Cruz se graduó de la Universidad de Seton Hall y estudió para el sacerdocio en el Seminario de la Inmaculada Concepción, Darlington, Nueva Jersey. Fue ordenado sacerdote para servir en la Arquidiócesis de Newark el 31 de mayo de 1980, el primer sacerdote nacido en Cuba ordenado en la Arquidiócesis. Tiene una Licenciatura en Filosofía y una Maestría en Sagrada Escritura de la Universidad de Seton Hall. Después de su ordenación en 1980, el P. Cruz se desempeñó como vicario parroquial en la Parroquia del Santo Rosario en Elizabeth. En 1982, fue nombrado vicario parroquial en la Catedral del Sagrado Corazón en Newark. En 1986, fue nombrado miembro del Comité Arquidiocesano de Vocaciones. De 1991 a 1993, se desempeñó como Decano del Decanato 19, Northern Newark. En 1995 se convirtió en capellán en el Centro Médico Saint Michael y luego fue nombrado director de la Oficina de Atención Pastoral de la Arquidiócesis en 2003. En este puesto, dirigió la gama completa de capellanes católicos y servicios de atención pastoral en todos los hospitales y centros médicos dentro de la Arquidiócesis. En 2000, el Papa Juan Pablo II otorgó al P. Cruz el título honorífico de Capellán de Su Santidad, con el título de Monseñor. En 2005, el arzobispo de Newark, John J. Myers, nombró a Mons. Cruz, vicepresidente de Misión y Ministerio para la Salud y los Servicios Humanos Católicos, la rama de atención médica y servicios sociales de la Arquidiócesis. Se ha desempeñado como miembro de la Junta de Revisión Institucional de varios hospitales de Nueva Jersey, como miembro del Comité de Ética del Centro Médico de Saint Michael, y como miembro del Comité de Ética de la Conferencia Católica de Nueva Jersey, y es profesor de neuropatología en UMDNJ-Escuela de Medicina de Nueva Jersey, Newark. El 9 de junio de 2008, el Papa Benedicto XVI nombró a Mons. Cruz Obispo Titular de Gaguari y Obispo Auxiliar de la Arquidiócesis de Newark. Su ordenación episcopal se llevó a cabo el 8 de septiembre de 2008. Hoy sirve en la Arquidiócesis como Obispo Regional del Condado de Union, Vicario para el Apostolado Hispano de la Arquidiócesis y Rector de la Catedral Basílica del Sagrado Corazón.
Director of Youth Ministry
Department of Youth Faith Formation
Archdiocese of New York, New York
Christina Davis is the Director of Youth Ministry for the Archdiocese of New York. She hopes to put her passion, creativity, and experience as a parish and diocesan director of youth ministry into her new role of Director of Youth Ministry. A significant change in the previous role of Director of Youth Ministry is that Christina will be working with parishes in their ministry with young people and their families from grades 6-12. Middle school is a critical season in a young person’s life, and she hopes to help them embrace confirmation as launchpad into a life of discipleship instead of a graduation from Church. Originally from southern California, Christina has worked in the Archdiocese of Atlanta and the Diocese of Reno.
Rev. Frank DeSiano, CSP, D. MIn.
President, Paulist Evangelization Ministries
Fr. Frank DeSiano, CSP, was ordained to the priesthood as a Paulist in 1972. Born in New York and raised on the West Side, he served as Pastor of St. Paul the Apostle Church from 1978-1987, and then earned a Doctor of Ministry degree from Boston University in 1990. He was elected President of the Paulist Fathers in 1994 and has been President of Paulist Evangelization ministries since 2009. He has written many books and articles and is an associate adjunct professor at the Catholic University of America teaching evangelization and preaching.
Dr. Patrick Donovan
Director, Diocesan Leadership Institute
Patrick Donovan is your everyday average Catholic husband and father. He has been a teacher, retreat leader, workshop presenter, diocesan director of youth and young adult ministry for more than 30 years, and now serves the Diocese of Bridgeport as the director of The Institute for Catholic Formation. He has authored or co-authored four books and more than fifty articles on using movies in ministry. In addition to his day job, Patrick is an adjunct faculty member at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT. He holds a degree in communications from the University of Tennessee, an MA in theology from the University of Notre Dame, and a doctorate in theology from La Salle University. Patrick is married to Maureen Gross and they have four children. The family lives in Fairfield, Connecticut, and are members of St. Anthony of Padua parish.
Dr. Donna Eschenauer
Associate Academic Dean
St. Joseph’s Seminary, New York
Dr. Donna Eschenauer completed her Master of Arts in Theology, with a advanced studies in Liturgy, at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, NY. Her doctoral work at Fordham University’s School of Religion focused on Education and Liturgy. Her dissertation title was, The Paschal Triduum: A Roman Catholic Way of Teaching How to Live and How to Die.
Since 2012, Dr. Eschenauer has been an Associate Academic Dean and Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology at St. Joseph’s Seminary (Dunwoodie), New York. In her position she assists the Academic Dean in directing all academic programs and teaches courses that are reflective of theology and practice, particularly in the area of Christian Initiation, liturgy, catechesis, and ministry. Dr. Eschenauer has also been a liturgy and catechetical consultant for William H. Sadlier Publishing Company, is a team member for Catechumeneon with Liturgy Training Publications; she was a major presenter at the National Gathering on Christian Initiation in 2018, and creator and presenter for several virtual workshops for LTP’s training for initiation ministry. She was a presenter for the FDLC’s 2022-23 webinar series on the forthcoming OCIA.
She is also the author of several books including:
Liturgy Training Publications:
The Role of the Coordinator of Christian Initiation: A Pastoral and Practical Guide (Revised Edition, forthcoming).
Recruiting and Forming Your Parish Initiation Team.
A Journey Through the Three Days: Theological Reflections on the Paschal Triduum.
Co-author, How to Lead Children’s Liturgy of the Word.
First Communion Liturgies: Preparing First-Class First Sacraments, Liturgical Press.
Reflection on Renewal: Lay Ecclesial Ministry in the Church, co-editor with Harold D. Horell.
Her pastoral experience is reflective of her over twenty-two years of work in the Diocese of Rockville Centre at the Cathedral Parish of St. Agnes where she served as a religious educator, liturgist, and catechumenate director.
Eric Figueroa Perez
Meet Eric, the fiery catalyst passionate for revival from the Church’s heart. With over two decades of diverse expertise in business, corporate, and ministry, he expertly crafts mission-driven experiences to fuel remarkable growth, drawing from his MBA from the University of PR and his MA in Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville. Hailing from San Juan, PR, and now serving at St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral in NYC, Eric’s national coaching for Alpha USA and his unique blend of business acumen and profound theological insights promise to inspire and transform perspectives on ministry fruit.
Rev. Joseph Gibino
Vicar for Evangelization and Catechesis
Director of the Permanent Diaconate
Pastor, St. Charles Borromeo Parish
Director of Pilgrimage Office
Co-Director Diocesan Pastoral Council
Diocese of Brooklyn, New York
Fr. Joseph Gibino became pastor of St. Charles in July 2023. He is the Vicar for Evangelization and Catechesis in the Diocese of Brooklyn, as well as Director of the Diaconate program, and head of the Pilgrimage Office. He was formerly pastor of Holy Trinity in Whitestone, Queens for 15 years.
He holds a Master of Divinity Degree, and Master of Sacred Theology degree from the Jesuit School of Theology, Berkely, CA, a Master of Arts Degree in Medieval Literature, from Gonzaga University, a Professional Degree in Education from Fordham University, and a Master’s Degree and Ph.D. in Social Anthropology from the University of Rochester. He has taught at every level of Catholic education from elementary school to Graduate courses.
Deacon Nathan Gunn
Initiatives Coordinator for the Young Life Northeast Division
Diocese of Syracuse, New York
Deacon Nathan serves as the Initiatives Coordinator for the Young Life Northeast Division, with a special emphasis on ensuring collaboration between Young Life and the Catholic Church. Young Life’s mission is to introduce adolescents to the person of Jesus Christ and help them mature in their faith. Nathan lives near Syracuse with his wife Tammy and two college-aged sons. Deacon Nathan holds a Masters in Theology from Fuller Seminary and a Masters in Biblical Theology from St John Paul the Great Catholic University. Deacon Nathan teaches Theology and Scripture in Deacon Formation for the Diocese of Syracuse.
Professor and Director of Sacred Music
Saint Joseph’s Seminary
Yonkers, New York
Conner David McCain is Professor and Director of Sacred Music at Saint Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, New York, and a PhD Candidate in Music Composition at the University of Aberdeen. His compositions are influenced by the austere coherence and spiritual power of Gregorian chant and the theology of the Cistercian tradition (primarily their relationship to the Song of Songs). He holds an MMus from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. and an MA in Philosophy from the University of St. Andrews. His works have been performed all over the world by ensembles such as Voces8 and the Red Note Ensemble, and he has participated in festivals and masterclasses in Italy, Scotland, and across the United States.
As an organist, he has given concerts and recitals in New York, Texas, Washington, D.C., and the Isle of Wight in the UK. These concerts have often featured collaborations with voices and instrumentalists in a variety of repertoire, ranging from the early Baroque, such as Tomaso Albinoni and Carlo Lonati, to the contemporary, such as Sir James MacMillan and Pēteris Vasks.
Sister Patricia McCarthy
Member of the Congregation of Notre Dame
Sister Patricia McCarthy is a member of the Congregation of Notre Dame. For twenty-five years she worked with the poor in education, in particular with abused children. For seventeen years she taught peace and nonviolence, giving lectures, courses, retreats and missions to students, adult education classes, parishes, religious communities, seminarians and deacons throughout the United States, Canada, Ireland, North Ireland, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Australia, Japan and Vietnam. She has given hundreds of workshops on nonviolence to faculties and students of both public and private schools. She is a columnist for the diocesan paper in Providence, Rhode Island, has published numerous articles and five books, including a curriculum on Nonviolence for Elementary schools. Her book, The Word of God-The Word of Peace won first place for spirituality by the Catholic Press Association in 2003. In 2007 the Catholic Press Association awarded her second place as columnist in a Catholic paper and magazine. She served four years as Associate and eight years as Provincial Superior for the United States province of her community, the Congregation of Notre Dame, finishing her term in 2017. She now teaches math at a Catholic school in Waterbury, CT.
Sr. Veronica Mendez, RCD
Miembro de la comunidad religiosa del Instituto de Nuestra Señora de la Doctrina Cristiana
New York, New York
Verónica Méndez, RCD, was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico and was raised in Spanish Harlem, New York City. She is a religious of the Institute of Our Lady of Christian Doctrine and has ministered with her congregation in Florida, South Carolina, and New York. From 1981 to 1988 she was director of Marydell Camp. Sister holds a master’s degree in Hispanic ministry from the Jesuit Theology School in Berkeley, CA and has participated in numerous workshops on a variety of topics.
Verónica Méndez, RCD, nació en Santurce, Puerto Rico y se crió en Spanish Harlem, Nueva York. Es religiosa del Instituto de Nuestra Señora de la Doctrina Cristiana y ha ministrado con su congregación en Florida, Carolina del Sur y Nueva York. De 1981 a 1988 fue directora de Marydell Camp. La hermana tiene una maestría en ministerio hispano de la Jesuit Theology School en Berkeley, CA y ha participado en numerosos talleres sobre una variedad de temas.
Executive Director of the Department of Youth Ministry
Archdiocese of New York, New York
Ela Milewska has been blessed to minister in a variety of environments, from a small community in West Virginia to a large parish in Raleigh, NC. She has also served as the diocesan youth ministry consultant for the Diocese of Raleigh. In 1999, Ela joined Cultivation Ministries, a nationally recognized youth ministry training and consulting organization based in the Chicago area. While pursuing her doctorate in catechesis at the Catholic University of America, she also worked as the coordinator for the National Initiative on Adolescent Catechesis. Ela began serving the Archdiocese of New York as the director of the Office of Youth Ministry in October of 2015. She is currently the executive director of the Department of Youth Faith Formation supporting parishes in their ministries to form young people and their families from baptism to twelfth grade. Ela has trained youth ministry and catechetical leaders, catechists, and educators across the United States and internationally. In 2016, she was the recipient of the National Youth Ministry Award.
St. Francis of Assisi
New York, New York
Joseph Nuzzi has been the Director of Evangelization at the Church of St. Francis of Assisi in Manhattan since 2007. His responsibilities include directing the RCIA, Young Adult Ministry, and Adult Faith Formation. He holds a master’s degree in biblical studies from the University of Notre Dame and a bachelor’s in religious studies from Villanova University.
Rev. Jose Felix Ortega
Parraco, Iglesia Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and St. Martin of Tours
Archidiocese of New York, New York
Born in Spain completed his seminary in Spain and Italy. During his ministry he worked in Mexico and Brazil. Ordained in 2001. In New York was for 12 years weekend associate in some parishes in the Westchester County, later on he was pastor in St. Peter’s – St. Dennis in Yonkers. He was incardinated in the Archdiocese of New York in 2020 and he is currently the pastor of Our Lady of Mt Carmel and St. Martin of Tours in the Bronx. He is also the Dean for the West Bronx deanery of the Archdiocese.
Sr. Margaret A. Palliser
Director, Office of Dominican Life
Dominican Sisters of Sparkill, New York
A member of the Dominican Sisters of Sparkill, Sister Margaret Palliser, OP, earned a doctorate in sacred theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome as well as a master’s degree in music from Boston University. Having completed twelve years in congregational leadership, she now directs the congregation’s Office of Dominican Life. Prior to her current position, Sister Margaret was Editor of Living with Christ and taught at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT.
Director of Ministry Formation | Directora de Formación Ministerial
Department of Youth Faith Formation | Departamento de Formación de Fe Juvenil
Archdiocese of New York | Arquidiócesis de Nueva York
Bertha Peralta-Rodriguez is the Director of Ministry Formation for the Department of Youth Faith Formation. This means she works with the Directors of Children’s Faith Formation and Youth Ministry and experienced leaders in the field to develop, implement, and support formation for directors/coordinators of religious education coordinators of youth ministry, parish catechists, and youth ministry team members. The goal of her ministry is to equip the more than 6,000 adults ministering with our parish young people with the knowledge, skills, and joy to effective pass on the Good News and foster a deep Catholic identity. Bertha was born and raised in New York City and has been involved in parish catechesis and youth ministry for over 20 year. Until recently, was teaching adult lay leaders at the Diocese of Rockville Centre’s School of Missionary Disciples. She is a graduate of Hunter College and received her Master’s degree from Fordham University.
Bertha Peralta-Rodríguez es la directora de Formación Ministerial de la Arquidiócesis de Nueva York. Ha sido catequista y ministra de jóvenes durante más de 20 años. También ha trabajado en las áreas de educación superior y salud mental. Ha dirigido talleres y cursos de formación de liderazgo y ministerio para las diócesis vecinas, como la Diócesis de Rockville Center. Bertha ha servido en ministerios de formación de jóvenes, jóvenes adultos, mujeres, y fe durante más de 20 años, es madre de una hija de 14 años, Liliana, y esposa de Johnny. Le apasiona buscar maneras creativas de evangelizar y crear una cultura de misión y crecimiento, y así equipar a los lideres laicos para ello.
Sr. Mercedes Pilar de la Cruz
Assistant Director of Pastoral Ministry and Special Ministries
Office of Hispanic Ministry
Archdiocese of New York, New York
Sister Mercedes Pilar de la Cruz was born in Hato Mayor del Rey in the Dominican Republic. She serves the Office of Hispanic Ministry as Assistant Director of Pastoral Ministry and Special Ministries. She entered religious life in 1970 with the Sisters of Charity of Cardinal Sancha. Sister Pilar received a master’s degree in theology at the Gregorian University in Rome and served eleven (11) years as a professor of religion in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. She also served in the ministry of the sick for four (4) years and taught catechesis for ten (10) years at the parishes of Saint Rose of Lima, Incarnation, and Immaculate Conception in the Bronx.
Hermana Mercedes Pilar de la Cruz nació en Hato Mayor del Rey en la República Dominicana. Sirve en la Oficina del Ministerio Hispano como Subdirectora de Ministerio Pastoral y Ministerios Especiales. Ingresó a la vida religiosa en 1970 con las Hermanas de la Caridad del Cardenal Sancha. Hermana Pilar recibió una maestría en teología en la Universidad Gregoriana de Roma y sirvió once (11) años como profesora de religión en la República Dominicana y Puerto Rico. También sirvió en el ministerio de los enfermos durante cuatro (4) años y enseñó catequesis durante diez (10) años en las parroquias de Santa Rosa de Lima, Encarnación e Inmaculada Concepción en el Bronx.
Dr. Jose Planas
Retirado, director asociado de catequesis para hispanos
Arquidiócesis de Newark, New Jersey
Dr. Jose Planas was born in the Republic of Cuba, and he is a descendant of the Catalan Family in Spain. Dr. Planas received a doctorate in Natural Sciences and Education, and he has a master’s in art with a minor in psychology. He served as representative of Caritas International in New Orleans; Associate Director of Catechesis for Hispanics at the Archdiocese of Newark; and served many years as professor of various educational fields through the Felix Varela Institute of the Archdiocese of New York. Dr. Planas is retired from ministry but continues to remain active at the parish of Saint Augustine in Union City and volunteers as professor of RCIA and other apostolates.
El Dr. José Planas nació en la República de Cuba, y es descendiente de la Familia Catalana en España. El Dr. Planas recibió un doctorado en Ciencias Naturales y Educación, y tiene una maestría en arte con una especialización en psicología. Se desempeñó como representante de Caritas Internacional en Nueva Orleans; Director Asociado de Catequesis para Hispanos en la Arquidiócesis de Newark; y se desempeñó durante muchos años como profesor de diversos campos educativos a través del Instituto Félix Varela de la Arquidiócesis de Nueva York. El Dr. Planas está jubilado del ministerio pero continúa activo en la parroquia de San Agustín en Union City y es voluntario como profesor de RICA y otros apostolados.
Retired Pastoral Associate
St. Francis de Sales
New York, New York
Jayne Porcelli is retired, she served as a certified Director of the Catechumenate and Pastoral Associate at St Francis de Sales Church in Manhattan for the 9 years. She has worked in Catechumenate ministry since 1989 and considers this work an immense privilege. Jayne holds a MA in Religious Education from Fordham University and a certificate in Spiritual Direction from the Center for Spiritual Development (Bronx).
Sr. Terry Rickard, OP
Staff Member of Renew International
Sr. Terry is a conference speaker, retreat leader, and author. She has spoken on the topics of parish revitalization, evangelization, and small-group ministry in various dioceses.
Rev. Ambiorix Rodriguez
Pastor, Church of St. Elizabeth | Parraco, Iglesia St. Elizabeth
Archdiocese of New York, New York
Rev. Ambiorix Rodriguez was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of New York in 1997. He is currently the pastor of St. Elizabeth Church in Washington Heights. He also serves as the Spiritual Chaplain for the Emmaus Ecclesial Communities and the Our Lady of Altagracia Committee in the Archdiocese of New York and as a delegate of the Archdiocese of New York to the V National Encuentro of Hispanic/Latino Ministry. Received his B.A. in Philosophy from St. John’s University in Queens, and a M.Div. from St. Joseph’s Seminary. He also received an M.A. in Pastoral Care from Fordham University and a Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) in Evangelization from the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.
Rev. Jose Luis Salazar, SJ
Rev. Thomas Joseph Scirghi
Associate Professor of Theology
Fordham University, New York
Fr. Scirghi is a native of New York City and a priest of the Society of Jesus. He is Associate Professor of Theology at Fordham University where he teaches Liturgical and Sacramental Theology. He also provides workshops in preaching around the United States. His recent book is Longing to See Your Face: Preaching in a Secular Age.
Sister Maryann Seton Lopiccolo, SC
Episcopal Delegate for Religious
Diocese of Brooklyn, New York
Sister Maryann Seton Lopiccolo is a Sister of Charity – Halifax, and a native Brooklynite who has a background in education and administration. Currently, Sr. Maryann is the Episcopal Delegate for Religious in the Diocese of Brooklyn, a position she has held since 1998. In this role, she relates on the Bishop’s behalf to about 96 religious communities of sisters and brothers, religious order priests and other members of Consecrated Life, especially those from international countries.
She also serves on many diocesan and national committees and is the current President of the National Conference of Vicars for Religious. With experience in formation work, Sr Maryann has been involved in many facets of welcoming new members to religious life and assisting those in formation ministry. She has served as a consultant and speaker to many congregations throughout the US.
She received a Master’s Degree in Religious Studies from Boston College and a Post Graduate Degree from Fordham University in Spirituality and Spiritual Direction which has enriched her ministry.
Denise Tejada Peralta, LMHC
Mental Health Counselor for the State of New York
Denise A. Tejada-Peralta is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor for the state of New York with over 11 years of clinical experience. She holds degrees in Psychology, Mental Health Counseling, and advanced certification in Spiritual Direction. She has completed all coursework in Clinical Psychology at a doctoral level. Denise is passionate about spiritually informed care and works with clients on mood dysregulation, anxiety, depression, parenting, and relationships. Denise has also served the church for about 25 years in youth, young adult, and women’s ministry.
Denise A. Tejada-Peralta es consejera de Salud Mental Licenciada en el estado de Nueva York con más de 11 años de experiencia clínica. Tiene títulos en Psicología, Consejería en Salud Mental y certificación avanzada en Dirección Espiritual. Ha completado todos los cursos de Psicología Clínica a nivel de doctorado. Denise es una apasionada de la atención espiritualmente informada y trabaja con clientes en la desregulación del estado de ánimo, la ansiedad, la depresión, la crianza de los hijos y las relaciones. Denise también ha servido a la iglesia durante aproximadamente 25 años en el ministerio de jóvenes, adultos jóvenes y mujeres.
Rev. Agustino Torres, CFR
Founder of Corazón Puro | Fundador de Corazón Puro
Pastoral Associate for Christian Formation
Parish of St. Monica-St. Elizabeth Of Hungary-St. Stephen of Hungary
New York, New York
Maryann is Pastoral Associate for Christian Formation at the Parish of St. Monica-St. Elizabeth Of Hungary-St. Stephen of Hungary in Manhattan. She holds Masters degrees in Adult Education and in Religious Education, and has over 30 years of experience in Christian Formation.
Wanda F. Vasquez
Oficina de Ministerio Hispano
Arquidiócesis de Nueva York
Wanda F. Vasquez was born in Vieques, Puerto Rico and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She has served the Archdiocese of New York since 2001. She is a graduate of University of Saint Leo in Tampa, Florida, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. She holds a master’s in justice administration and a law degree from New York University. In 2013, Wanda was appointed Director of the Office of Hispanic Ministry in the Archdiocese of New York and serves as the Ex-officio member of the newly implemented Archdiocesan Pastoral Advisory Council for Hispanic Ministry. Wanda is also the Advisor for Hispanic Diplomatic Relations at the United Nations. In the process of the V Encuentro, Wanda serves as the chairperson for Region II (Albany, Brooklyn, Buffalo, New York, Ogdensburg, Rockville Centre, Rochester, and Syracuse) and served as consultant for the for the Office of Hispanic Affairs at the USCCB.
Wanda F. Vásquez nació en Vieques, Puerto Rico y creció en Brooklyn, Nueva York. Ha servido en la Arquidiócesis de Nueva York desde 2001. Se graduó de la Universidad de Saint Leo en Tampa, Florida, donde obtuvo una licenciatura en justicia penal. Tiene una maestría en administración de justicia y una licenciatura en derecho de la Universidad de Nueva York. En 2013, Wanda fue nombrada Directora de la Oficina del Ministerio Hispano en la Arquidiócesis de Nueva York y se desempeña como miembro ex-oficio del Consejo Asesor Pastoral Arquidiocesano para el Ministerio Hispano recientemente implementado. Wanda también es la Asesora para Relaciones Diplomáticas Hispanas en las Naciones Unidas. En el proceso del V Encuentro, Wanda se desempeña como presidenta de la Región II (Albany, Brooklyn, Buffalo, Nueva York, Ogdensburg, Rockville Centre, Rochester y Syracuse) y se desempeñó como consultora de la Oficina de Asuntos Hispanos de la USCCB.
Rev. Stephen S. Wilbricht, CSC
Professor of Religious Studies, Stonehill College
Rev. Stephen S. Wilbricht, C.S.C. is a Professor of Theology at Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts. Born and raised in Hanover, Illinois, he attended the University of Notre Dame, receiving a B.A. in Government in 1991 and a Masters of Divinity degree in 1995. He was ordained in 1997 and served in two parishes in the Phoenix area for the next five years. In 2002, Wilbricht began graduate studies in liturgy at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where he received both a licentiate and a doctorate in theology. He began teaching at Stonehill in 2009. His major research interests revolve around the work of the liturgical movement and issues of present-day liturgical renewal. Wilbricht is the author of Rehearsing God’s Just Kingdom: The Eucharistic Vision of Mark Searle (Liturgical Press, 2013), The Role of the Priest in Christian Initiation (Liturgy Training Publications, 2017), Baptismal Ecclesiology and the Order of Christian Funerals (Liturgy Training Publications, 2018), Anointed to Lead: The Baptismal Call of the Parish Staff (Liturgy Training Publications, 2022), and Anointed for Mission: Exercising Your Baptismal Call (Liturgy Training Publications, 2022).
Rev. Peter Wojcik
Pastor, Church of St. Clement
Father Peter is the Pastor of St. Clement Church in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago, IL. He also serves as the Pastoral Strategy Leader for the Archdiocese of Chicago. In 2016, Fr. Peter joined the Renew My Church team of the Archdiocese of Chicago and took responsibility for overseeing the final stage of parish spiritual renewal called Building the New Reality. He also served as the pastoral leader of Faith Hub Chicago, a movement of pioneers of pastoral renewal across the Archdiocese.