Speakers and Workshops for Diocese of Raleigh Eucharistic Congress


English: Bishop Stephen Parkes, Bishop of Savannah

The Eucharist: History and Mystery

In this presentation, Bishop Parkes will use Scripture and Tradition to inspire a greater understanding of the beauty of the gift of the Eucharist. As Catholics, we are invited into a deeper relationship with Christ through our devotion to the Eucharist. How can we develop and grow in our personal witness to the great mystery of Christ’s love for us through our reverence of His Real Presence?

Most Reverend Stephen D. Parkes was born in 1965 and grew up in Massapequa, Long Island, New York, the third son of Ronald and Joan Parkes. His parents and eldest brother Christopher are deceased. His brother Gregory, also a priest, was installed as Bishop of the Diocese of St. Petersburg in 2017. They are the 11th pair of brother-bishops in the history of the Catholic Church in the United States.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration/marketing from the University of South Florida, Tampa, and worked in retail and banking before entering St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boyton Beach, Florida in 1992.

Bishop Parkes was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Orlando on May 23, 1998, at St. James Cathedral, Orlando, by Bishop Norbert Dorsey, C.P. His first assignment in the diocese was parochial vicar of Annunciation Catholic Church in Altamonte Springs, where he served until 2005. In 2004, he was appointed to lead campus ministry at the University of Central Florida, the second-largest university in the United States. He continued in this ministry until 2011, simultaneously serving as parochial administrator for a new parish (Most Precious Blood Catholic Church, Oviedo) that grew in its first years from 200 to 2000 families. In 2011, he returned to Annunciation Catholic Church and was pastor.

Bishop Parkes was appointed the 15th bishop of the Diocese of Savannah by His Holiness Pope Francis on July 8, 2020. He was consecrated and installed on September 23, 2020, at the Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist, Savannah by Archbishop Gregory John Hartmayer, OFM Conv.

A member of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Bishop Parkes currently serves on the Committee on Pro Life Activities and the Subcommittee on Native American Affairs. He also serves on the boards of trustees for Ave Maria University and St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary.

In his personal time, Bishop Parkes enjoys the outdoors: long bicycle rides, kayak excursions, hiking trips and traveling with his brother bishop.

Spanish: Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, Arzobispo de San Antonio

La Eucaristía: el alimento del Pueblo de Dios

Sabemos, por las palabras de San Juan, Apóstol y Evangelista, que Dios es amor, y que Jesús es el Hijo de Dios y por tanto es Dios. Jesús habla de sí mismo como el pan de vida que ha bajado del cielo. En la Eucaristía, Él nos alimenta con su Cuerpo y Sangre. Alimentados por él, somos movidos a amarnos unos a otros como él nos ha amado. Así fortalece los lazos entre nosotros, ayudándonos a reconocer al Señor en el prójimo y en su Pueblo. Él nos hace uno con los demás y con Dios. Somos su Cuerpo, alimento de amor y para el amor.

El Reverendísimo Gustavo García-Siller nació el 21 de diciembre de 1956 en San Luis Potosí S.L.P, México. Es hijo de Gustavo García Suarez y María Cristina Siller de García, siendo el Arzobispo García-Siller el mayor de 15 hijos. Creció barriendo pisos y lavando ventanas, entre otras responsabilidades en la mueblería familiar, hasta los 16 años. Asistió a la Escuela Primaria Colegio Motolinía y se graduó de la Escuela Secundaria Colegio Motolinía en San Luis Potosí. El arzobispo recibió su Certificado de Formador de la Escuela de Verano Para Formadores. Obtuvo una Maestría en Teología y Divinidad del Seminario St. John en Camarillo, California y recibió su Maestría en Filosofía del Instituto de Filosofía, Guadalajara, México. El Arzobispo García-Siller asistió al ITESO, una Universidad Jesuita en Guadalajara, México, donde obtuvo su Maestría en Psicología.

En 1975 el Arzobispo García-Siller profesó como miembro de los Misioneros del Espíritu Santo. Fue enviado a los Estados Unidos por su orden en 1980, donde trabajó de cerca con la comunidad inmigrante. Fue ordenado sacerdote el 22 de junio de 1984 en Guadalajara, México y se convirtió en ciudadano de los Estados Unidos el 15 de diciembre de 1998. Sus más de 35 años de servicio sacerdotal han tomado muchas formas, incluido el ministerio a comunidades con diversos antecedentes culturales. Mientras estuvo en California, sirvió en Fresno y en tres parroquias en el área de Los Ángeles. También trabajó en Oregón durante tres años. A lo largo de esos años, dirigió Misiones Parroquiales a comunidades parroquiales católicas en todo Estados Unidos.

Fue nombrado obispo auxiliar de la Arquidiócesis de Chicago el 24 de enero de 2003 por el Papa Juan Pablo II, y ordenado el 19 de marzo de 2003 por el Arzobispo de Chicago, Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I. Gustavo García-Siller fue nombrado Arzobispo de San Antonio por el Papa Benedicto XVI el 14 de octubre de 2010. Instalado como Arzobispo el 23 de noviembre de 2010 en la Iglesia St. Mark the Evangelist en San Antonio, TX, sucedió al Arzobispo José H. Gómez como el VI Arzobispo de San Antonio.

Youth: The Vigil Project, featuring Greg Boudreaux

Is Jesus Real?

It's easy to get comfortable with the language of faith and the idea of Jesus. But Jesus isn't an idea: he is a person, and he is alive and moving in our lives. This talk aims to take the participant beyond what's maybe familiar to encounter again (or for the first time) the reality of Jesus.

The Vigil Project is a community of musical artists that exists to make music for the Catholic journey. Featuring a collective of seasoned singer/songwriters and worship leaders, TVP invites the Church to a fresh encounter with God and to deep prayer through the experience of music in Liturgy, devotional prayer and beyond. In less than four years as a group, they’ve quickly garnered international acclaim through the release of six albums, numerous national tours and serving other Catholic musicians with inspiring formation opportunities. TVP is a nonprofit organization and has team members based in Nashville, Cincinnati and New Orleans.

Greg Boudreaux is a founding member and co-director of The Vigil Project. He has traveled much of the globe leading music, speaking and studying the music of the Church. He is passionate about praying through song and helping others do the same, and he has a deep heart for leading others into a true encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist. Greg works closely with Lizzy, his wife of 11 years, to write and record music. They live in New Orleans, LA, with their three young children. When not spending time with his family, Greg loves to get lost saltwater fishing in the winding marsh bayous of South Louisiana.

Special Vocations' Assembly (First afternoon workshop session only)

The Vocations Office for the Diocese of Raleigh will be hosting a Vocations' Assembly. The Vocations’ Assembly will give young men and women an opportunity to learn more about the different vocations within our Catholic Church. There will be four different presenters sharing their vocation discernment story and answering questions about their vocation and how to discern a vocation. Our panelists will be Austin Faur, Father Casey Cole, O.F.M., Sister Laura Downing, I.H.M., and Father Marlon Mendieta, a priest of the Diocese of Raleigh. The Vocations Assembly is open to anyone interested in learning more about a particular vocation, how one can discern their vocation, and how one can support people discerning a vocation.

Afternoon Sessions (Talk repeats in second session)

English Track

Workshop 1: Deacon Greg Kandra

We Become What We Receive: The Eucharist and Our Ministry to the World

St. Augustine famously said, "If we receive the Eucharist worthily, we become what we receive." The implications of this are both humbling and challenging: we are transformed by the grace of the Eucharist, by the reception of the Body of Christ, into The One who showed us The Way. We are challenged to live as Christ: as people of prayer, people of service, people of love. How do we carry that into the world?

Deacon Greg Kandra is the creator of the blog “The Deacon’s Bench,” which has garnered some 20 million readers from around the world since its inception in 2007. In 2022, he retired after 11 years as senior writer for Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA), a pontifical association founded by Pope Pius XI in 1926. He now serves as a part-time consultant to the association while spending most of his time writing and traveling the country to lead retreats and parish missions.

Before his years at CNEWA, Deacon Greg spent nearly three decades in broadcast journalism, most of that time at CBS News, where he was a writer and producer for several programs, including “48 Hours,” “60 Minutes II,” “Sunday Morning” and “The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric.” He was also the founding editor of “Couric & Co.,” Katie Couric’s blog at CBSNews.com. In addition to his work with CBS News, from 2000 to 2004 he served as a writer and producer on the live finales of the hit reality series “Survivor.”

In 2002, he co-wrote the acclaimed CBS documentary “9/11,” hosted by Robert DeNiro, which told the story of firefighters on September 11, 2001. The film showed the only footage shot inside the World Trade Center that day, and featured the last images of Father Mychal Judge, moments before he became the first official fatality of the attacks.

Workshop 2: Nell O’Leary

Healing and the Blessed Sacrament

Jesus gives His healing and life-saving love for us in and through the gift of the Blessed Sacrament. Stepping through examples from the lives of the saints, teaching from the Catechism, and personal experiences and encounters, Nell O’Leary will share how this healing love is for each and every person. Each time Jesus offers us Himself, we have an opportunity to receive Him wholly and with an open heart. What keeps us back from Him and how can we allow God to move and change us, here and now today? His healing is offered without strings and in a completeness of love.

Nell O’Leary is an attorney turned writer, editor, speaker, wife, and mother. She is the former managing editor of "Blessed is She," has contributed to over a dozen books, edited 40 books, over 3000 devotional essays, and spoken to thousands of women about finding and building community over the past decade. Her passion is for spiritual growth, healing through story, and vulnerable authenticity. 

Workshop 3: Monsignor Michael Clay

Catechizing on the Mass: There’s More Going On Than Many Realize

The liturgy is the source and summit of the Christian life and the Mass is the paramount celebration of our liturgical tradition. The Mass makes present and available to us the saving grace of Christ’s passion, death and resurrection through rituals, words, gestures, song and food. We rightfully place our focus on this saving grace in Holy Communion, but there are many other ways in which this saving grace becomes present to us at Mass, and our participation plays a critical role in it. It is important to understand this broader view because it has implications for why we are present and participate at Mass to begin with and what we are to do with what we have received once we leave the church. Come and learn this deeper dimension of the Mass so, in turn, you may share it with others for the salvation of the world.

Monsignor Clay is pastor of St. Francis of Assisi in Raleigh. He previously served as associate professor of pastoral theology at The Catholic University of America, pastor of three other parishes in the diocese, diocesan vocation director, diocesan director of the permanent diaconate and diocesan director of liturgy. His doctorate is in liturgical studies from The Catholic University of America. He is an internationally recognized expert on the R.C.I.A. and has presented workshops on the R.C.I.A., liturgy and preaching in over 75 dioceses in the U.S. and Canada. He was appointed in 2013 by the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity as a member of the Catholic team for international ecumenical dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and renewed for an additional six-year term in 2021. He is the author of two books on the R.C.I.A. and 12 articles on the R.C.I.A. and liturgy, and is working on an app to help parish R.C.I.A. teams more effectively evangelize inquirers.

Workshop 4: Dr. Shannen Dee Williams

Bearing Witness to America's Real Sister Act: The Overlooked History of Black Catholic Nuns in the United States

For most people, Whoopi Goldberg's performance as Sister Mary Clarence in Sister Act is the dominant interpretation of an African American nun and the desegregation of white Catholic sisterhood in the United States. In this presentation, Dr. Shannen Dee Williams will explore the story of America's real sister act: the story of how generations of Black women and girls called to the sacred vows of poverty, chastity and obedience fought against racism, sexism and exclusion to become and minster as consecrated women of God in the Roman Catholic Church. In so doing, she will turn attention to women's religious life as an important battleground in the long African American struggle for freedom, justice and human dignity.

Dr. Shannen Dee Williams is associate professor of History at the University of Dayton. A historian of the African American experience with research and teaching specializations in women’s, religious and Black freedom movement history, Williams is the author of Subversive Habits: Black Catholic Nuns in the Long African American Freedom Struggle, which was published by Duke University Press in May 2022. Subversive Habits was named a top five book published in religion by Publishers' Weekly in 2022. It also received the 2022 Letitia Woods Brown Award for Best Book in African American Women's History from the Association of Black Women Historians.

Dr. Williams’s research been supported by a host of fellowships, grants and awards, including a Scholar-in-Residence Fellowship at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City, a Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Fellowship in Religion and Ethics from the Woodrow Wilson National Foundation, an Albert J. Beveridge Grant from the American Historical Association and the John Tracy Ellis Dissertation Award from the American Catholic Historical Association. Her work has been published in the Journal of African American History, American Catholic Studies, the Washington Post, America Magazine, and the National Catholic Reporter.
A Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians, Dr. Williams also authored the award-winning column, “The Griot’s Cross,” published by the Catholic News Service.

Workshop 5: Father Chris Koehn

100 Years of Carolina Catholicism

Father Chris Koehn will provide a history of the growth of Catholicism in North Carolina since the establishment of the Diocese of Raleigh on December 12, 1924.

Father Chris is from a military family, born in England and raised in Virginia, the youngest of four brothers. He earned a B.B.A. in accounting and a minor in history from James Madison University. Father Chris had a full career as a project manager and took an early retirement from Chesapeake Hospitality before receiving a Master of Divinity from Pope St. John XXIII Seminary in Weston, Massachusetts. After ordination in 2018, he served two years as parochial vicar at St. Thomas More Church in Chapel Hill. In July 2020, Father Chris became the administrator of St. Mary Magdalene. In July 2021, he was appointed pastor for the parish by Bishop Zarama. Father Chris also serves as chair of the Centennial Committee.

Spanish Track

Taller 1: Father Jairo Maldonado

De Sarepta a Emaús: Dios nos quiere alimentar.

Ya desde el Antiguo Testamento encontramos prefiguraciones del regalo maravilloso de la Eucaristía. En el episodio de la viuda de Sarepta, la pobre mujer que entrega lo poco que tiene a través de un gesto de generosidad, es recompensada con abundancia de harina y aceite; l es concedido el don de seguir viviendo. En el pasaje de Emaús los discípulos descubren al Dios-Hombre en la palabra y en la fracción del pan. Aquello que experimentamos en ambos pasajes se actualiza en la celebración Eucarística: el señor quiere alimentarnos y saciar el hambre y la sed que experimentamos con el regalo de su cuerpo y de su sangre.

Nacido en Colombia, el P. Jairo fue ordenado sacerdote para la Diócesis de Raleigh el 6 de junio de 2020. La primera asignación del Padre Jairo fue como Vicario Parroquial en St. Francis of Assisi en Raleigh. En junio de 2022, el P. Jairo fue designado como administrador de la parroquia St. Anne en Edenton, NC.

Taller 2: Katherine Angulo

Convertirse en Personas Eucarísticas: La esperanza y promesa de la vida parroquial.

Basados en el trabajo del Programa del Obispo D'Arcy para la Renovación Sacerdotal en la Eucaristía y en el libro del Dr. Timothy O'Malley llamado Convertirse en Personas Eucarísticas: La Esperanza y la Promesa de la Vida Parroquial, vamos a aceptar la invitación a redescubrir cómo esta cultura de la Eucaristía puede mejorar nuestros ministerios, nuestras parroquias, nuestras familias y nuestra vida personal.

Como Directora de Programa de la Iniciativa Thriving in Ministry, Katherine dirige cuatro importantes esfuerzos de divulgación, tres de los cuales cuentan con el apoyo de Lilly Endowment, Inc. Katherine trabaja para preparar líderes pastorales en los cimientos sólidos católicos para el ministerio a largo plazo en la Iglesia; proporciona renovación intelectual y espiritual para los sacerdotes diocesanos invitados en el Programa Bishop John M. D'Arcy de Renovación Sacerdotal; y se está asociando con Iskali para crear una cultura de afiliación en la Iglesia católica hispana en los Estados Unidos a través del Young Adult Innovation Hub. La cuarta iniciativa, generosamente apoyada por Gibney, busca volver a proponer a la Sagrada Familia de Nazaret como fundamento para la renovación catequética dentro de la Iglesia doméstica hispana. Este programa está siendo probado en la Arquidiócesis de San Antonio.

Nacida en México y criada en Colombia, Katherine recibió su B.A. en Idiomas Modernos en 2000 y su Maestría en Ministerios Pastorales en 2005. Tiene más de 22 años de experiencia en el ministerio parroquial y diocesano, incluidas las Diócesis de Knoxville TN; Raleigh, Carolina del Norte; y la Arquidiócesis de Atlanta. Angulo fue la creadora y editora de The Mark, una revista católica para adolescentes, y productora ejecutiva del programa de capacitación de voluntarios Called to Accompany/Llamados a acompañar. Ella es parte de la Junta de Asesores de Lilly Endowment en Iniciativas de Prosperidad en el Ministerio.

Katherine vive en Granger, Indiana. Aprovecha cada oportunidad para viajar a nuevos lugares, pero siempre tiene como prioridad visitar a su familia en Tampa y Bogotá.

Taller 3: Díacono Luis Royo

Eucaristía y Servicio: Una mirada diaconal de la Eucaristía.

Al recibir la Eucaristía estamos llamado a convertirnos en Cristo, a quien recibimos en Comunión, para seguir su ejemplo de servicio. En este taller reflexionaremos en los momentos de la celebración Eucarística que mejor nos manifiestan la dimensión de Servicio de nuestra fe.

Dcn. Luis Royo se unió al personal de St. Thomas More en Chapel Hill, NC en octubre de 2009, donde ahora se desempeña como Director del Ministerio Hispano. Dcn. Luis nació en Colombia, SA donde estudió Filosofía y Teología Católica en la Universidad San Buenaventura en Bogotá, Colombia. Se casó con Alexandra Romero y tienen dos hijos, Luis Alejandro y Ángela Sofía. En Colombia, trabajó enseñando Filosofía tanto en la escuela secundaria como en la universidad. Él y su familia se mudaron a Estados Unidos en 2008 y se unió al personal de St. Thomas More en octubre de 2009 como Coordinador de ministerios hispanos. El diácono Luis fue ordenado diácono permanente el 29 de junio de 2013 y ha servido en la parroquia de Santo Tomás Moro desde entonces.

Taller 4: Dr. Hosffman Ospino

El amor y la devoción por la Eucaristía comienzan en la familia

Este taller es una invitación a reflexionar sobre cómo la familia es un espacio privilegiado para cultivar el amor y la devoción por la Eucaristía. Aparte de la responsabilidad de participar como familia en la Eucaristía dominical, exploraremos algunas prácticas de la vida diaria que preparan y hacen vida la experiencia Eucarística en el seno del hogar.

El Dr. Hosffman Ospino es originario de Colombia, donde realizó estudios de pregrado en Filosofía. Tiene una maestría en teología con concentración en Historia de la Iglesia y un doctorado en Teología y Educación de Boston College. Su investigación explora el diálogo entre la fe y la cultura y el impacto de este intercambio en la educación teológica católica, la catequesis y el ministerio. Se ha desempeñado como investigador principal de varios estudios reconocidos a nivel nacional sobre cómo la presencia católica hispana está transformando parroquias, escuelas y organizaciones. Ha escrito y editado más de una docena de libros. Es ponente frecuente en eventos nacionales e internacionales. Está activamente involucrado en proyectos de ministerio y formación en la fe en varias partes de los Estados Unidos.

Youth Track

Workshop 1: Brenda García (1:30 - 2:25 p.m.)

To Know and Love God

In this talk, Brenda Garcia explains how spending time with God has led her and so many of her peers to a profound relationship with Christ. She will talk about the importance of silence in the midst of a busy, noisy world. Furthermore, she will discuss the significance of receptivity and cooperation with God’s grace, the importance of our disposition in addition to allowing ourselves to first be loved and embraced by him who created us. A brief discussion on the 10 commandments and the Beatitudes and Adoration may also be explored, time permitting.

Brenda Lorena Garcia is a Latina-American professional stuntwoman, actress, public speaker, and former award-winning multimedia journalist. As a devoted Catholic, Brenda shares stories of her life and how she keeps her faith in Hollywood. Brenda is a busy and hardworking woman and has appeared in Ant-Man and the Wasp, Bird Box, Avatar 2, Transformers, Hawaii Five-O, Yellowstone, Penny Dreadful: City of Angels, 911: Lone Star, and This Is Us.

Brenda has an incredible zest for work in the media and especially in proclaiming her love and joy found in Christ Jesus. She has also been nominated for several stunt awards for various projects and has made use of her Master's degree in Counseling Psychology to bring much needed attentiveness found in the gifts of her feminine genius to everyday life and everyday people all the way to the extraordinary.

From falling off of bridges and piers to building bridges, Brenda is most passionate about emphasizing the need of truly living out the commandments, especially by fulfilling the first two. Part of her mission includes living the Corporal Works of Mercy, in which instruction is one of her favorites as an orator. Brenda realizes that a lot of our problems today consist not only because of a lack of belief in Jesus, but also because people "bottle in" their emotions and sufferings all too often.

As a Catholic philanthropist with a counselor psychologist (and broadcasting) background, Brenda focuses on the healing of the whole individual being by emphasizing the importance of the sacraments, God's great Divine Mercy and the salvific grace of our faith within the realms and dimensions that make us human and children of God.

Workshop 2: Father Casey Cole, OFM (2:40 - 3:25 p.m.)

The Meaning of the Meal: Uncovering the Beauty of the Mass

For some people, the Mass can appear boring. This couldn't be further from the truth! In every word, gesture and prayer, there is a world of symbolism drawing us closer to God and one another. In this workshop, we'll break down the parts of the Mass, explain where each comes from and discuss ways to make the celebration more fruitful in our lives.

Father Casey Cole, OFM, grew up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, before moving to Cary, North Carolina. He was a parishioner at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church in Cary. Cole attended Green Hope High School and, in 2011, graduated from Furman University with a degree in religious studies and a minor in poverty studies. He is a vowed religious in the Order of Friars Minor, commonly known as the Franciscans. He has a degree in religious studies with a minor in poverty studies from Furman University. In August 2017, he professed his final vows within the Order of Friars Minor; in June 2019 he was ordained a priest by Bishop Luis Rafael Zarama. Casey works extensively on social media, evangelizing, and catechizing through YouTube videos, podcasts and blog posts.

Workshop 3: Sister Laura Downing, IHM (3:55 - 4:40 p.m.)

Come, Let Us Adore Him

Understanding the history, meaning, practice and benefits of Adoration of Blessed Sacrament

Sister Laura joined the theology faculty at Immaculata University in June 2018. She is a proud 2002 graduate of Immaculata’s theology program. Her most recent work focuses on ecclesiology and the theology of ministry.

Prior to joining the faculty at IU, Sister Laura taught in middle and high schools for 11 years, including several years in the double role of high school theology teacher and campus minister/retreat director, including at Cardinal Gibbons High School. This two-fold ministry awakened in her a passion for training and forming young adults for ministry in the Church. To this end, Sister Laura established the Spiritual Life Leadership Council during her tenure at Cardinal Gibbons High School in Raleigh, NC.

In addition to her work as a teacher, Sister Laura also serves as a spiritual director. Sister Laura is participating in a Templeton World Charity Foundation grant entitled "Spiritual Direction and the Moral Life."