Ken Ogorek currently serves as Director of Catechesis for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis; his work  involves evangelization and discipleship initiatives as well. Having taught the Faith and collaborated with  catechetical leaders for over twenty years in two dioceses, Ken enjoys sharing ideas that others have shared with  him; he does so as a speaker, author, leadership consultant and retreat facilitator.


Talk Title and Description: 10 Tips for Effective Lesson Planning: How to Reach Those You Teach

In this session we’ll share tips, tricks of the trade and rules of thumb for planning engaging and effective  catechetical sessions—for folks of all ages. 


Jason Gale is the Director of the Center for Evangelization and Catechesis at Aquinas College in Nashville,  Tennessee. He received a Masters degree in Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville. He also  received a Master of Catholic Pastoral and Education Studies and an Ecclesiastical License of Divinity in  Catechetics from the Maryvale Institute, Birmingham, England. 

Having served as a director of religious  education, youth minister, and formator for catechists, Jason has published articles in The Sower Review, The  Catechetical Review and Catechist Magazine. He has presented papers at Franciscan University of Steubenville  and Benedictine College. Jason lives with his wife and six children in Dickson, Tennessee. 

Talk Title: Evangelizing the Catechized: Aiming for Conversion in Catechesis

In this presentation, we will address the common situation described in the General Directory for Catechesis, 
“Frequently, many who present themselves for catechesis truly require genuine conversion. Because of this the  Church usually desires that the first stage in the catechetical process be dedicated to ensuring conversion” (GDC  62). We will look at some practical aspects of this first stage in the catechetical process of ensuring the  conversion of our students. 


Paige Courtney Barnes is a writer, educator and catechist in the Diocese of Nashville. 

She earned her B.A.  in philosophy from the University of Notre Dame and her M.A. in Teaching from Aquinas College.

She is a  Nashville native who has spent over 10 years teaching the faith to youth, college students and her peers. 

Talk Title and Description: Fortifying Justice with Fraternal Charity

Taking into consideration the violent chaos that erupted this summer, and Pope St. John Paul II’s reference to  racism as “one of the most persistent and destructive evils of the nation,” this lecture is designed to equip  Catholic educators to apply Catholic Social Teaching, spiritual warfare and the sacraments as remedies to heal  the effects of this complex social sin. 


Born and raised in East Tennessee, Brittany is a passionate convert to the Catholic faith.

Brittany worked  for the Diocese of Knoxville for five years as the coordinator of Pastoral Juvenil Hispana, and is now the Diocesan Director of the Youth, Young Adult, and Pastoral  Juvenil Ministry Office. Brittany has also been an elected member of the Board of LaRED (the National  Catholic Network of Pastoral Juvenil Hispana) for four years serving as both secretary and a member-at-large. 

Prior to these ministerial roles, Brittany was an in-home family counselor for at-risk youth and later lived in  Ecuador as a Catholic missionary for a little over a year.   

Talk Title: Building Intercultural Competence for Ministry Leaders


Ryan Hanning, PhD is a professor of Theology and the former Director of Family Catechesis for the  Diocese of Phoenix.

He is a fellow of the Institute of Catholic Theology and San Juan Diego Institute.

He  currently homesteads in Whites Creek with his wife and 10 well-socialized homeschooled children. 

Talk Title and Description: The Ecclesial Method: How to Prepare & Teach from the Heart of the  Church

Is there a preferred model of teaching the faith? What was Christ’s pedagogy? Looking to Christ the  teacher, we can better understand how to teach the faith in ways that engage the mind and heart. 


Dr. Marlon De La Torre currently serves as the President and Executive Director of the Catholic Brain  Catechetical Institute a division of Catholic Brain, Inc.

He has served as the Diocesan Director for  Evangelization and Catechesis, for the Diocese of Fort  Worth, Diocesan Chair and Host of the National Hispanic Encounter (Encuentro) conference, professor of  Catechetics for Holy Trinity Seminary for the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth &  many additional notable programs.

Closest to home, he served as Parish and Diocesan Director of  Religious Education as well as Catholic High School Principal and Dean of Catechetics at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic  High school for the Diocese of Memphis.    

Talk Title: The Spiritual Life of the Catechist and the Development of a Religious  Sense

In this workshop, we will discuss some concrete and practical ways a catechist can develop and strengthen  their religious sense in relationship with Jesus Christ the Divine Teacher. Emphasis will be placed on how to use  the Catechism of the Catholic Church as a living source of prayer. 


I​ was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. During my last year of high school I drew closer to Christ and  started growing in my faith, especially through the experience of mission trips and a good group of Catholic friends.

I decided to study philosophy and become a professor, but during my second year of college Jesus invited me to follow Him in a closer way as a missionary and to become a priest.

I entered the Saint John Society  in 2011, a society of apostolic life dedicated to the new evangelization specially among students and the poor,  and spent some years working full-time in apostolate.

After that, I resumed my studies and completed three degrees in philosophy. In 2017, I moved to Washington DC for my theological studies and I am currently in my  last year of theology at the Dominican House of Studies before ordination to the diaconate. 

Talk Title: ​El Misterio de la Palabra de Dios 


Joan Watson is the Director of Faith Formation for the Diocese of Nashville.

In addition to her work for  the diocese, she is a popular speaker who has addressed a wide variety of audiences, from local parishioners to  members of the Roman Curia.

Joan received her   her master’s degree in theology from Franciscan University.

She served on the National Advisory Council for  the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for four years &  is Associate Editor of Integrated Catholic  Life, where she writes weekly, and also hosts the weekly series “3 Minute Theology” on Facebook & YouTube  (www.3minutetheology.com)

Talk Title: Teaching Mary in the Bible Belt

Is a discomfort with Mary actually a discomfort with the Incarnation? We will look at what the Church teaches  about Mary – and why it’s important – as well as some tips for teaching others.  


Rachael Gieger is a Colorado native who is now serving as the Assistant Director of Catechesis for the  Diocese of Nashville.

She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Theology from Ave Maria University,  where she also served as a catechist and ministry leader.

Her favorite authors are C.S. Lewis and Fulton Sheen,  and she is an unapologetic coffee addict.  

Talk Title: Integrated Spirit: Catechesis on Sexuality  

In a culture that spreads increasingly confusing messages about sexuality and the body, how is the Church  supposed to respond? In this presentation, we will discuss how catechesis is a necessary and integral part of  forming children and youth to have a holy, healthy sexuality.  


Sister Elizabeth Anne Allen, O.P., Ed.D., is a member of the Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia and has served as catechist, teacher and administrator on elementary, secondary and collegiate levels.

Currently serving  as the Director for the Center for Catholic Education at Aquinas College, Sister has the opportunity to work  with catechists and teachers throughout the country and beyond.

She has been in schools and parishes in all three of the dioceses in Tennessee!


Talk Title: Teacher As Vessel

Reflecting on the image of “vessel” in Sacred Scripture, this session considers the role and the importance of catechists and teachers as they work to proclaim the faith, accompany young people, and build community in their classes, schools and parishes. 


Sister Mary Johanna Mellody, O.P., has been a member of the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia of Nashville, Tennessee, for over 25 years.

She has worked in the field of education for over 20 years & holds a Master Degree in theology from the Franciscan University of Steubenville 

For the past 8 years she has assisted in the  formation of Spanish-speaking catechists in the Dioceses of Nashville, TN.

She has presented at bilingual catechetical conferences and retreats in multiple dioceses, and for the past five years she has traveled to parishes around the country giving family retreats in Spanish and English based on the Dominican Sisters book: Una invitación para Orar en Familia / A Short Guide to Praying as a Family.

Talk Title: Llevamos este tesoro en vasos de barro

This fall, Sister, like so many of those  to whom she speaks, is learning to teach virtually, trusting in the grace of the Holy Spirit and praying for that  same grace to fill the hearts of all who listen. 


Deacon Jeff Drzycimski is a Permanent Deacon for the Diocese of Memphis in Tennessee. He is a speaker at conferences, retreats and parishes, an author and the host of the nationally syndicated radio talk show and podcast The Catholic Cafe, heard weekly on nearly 1000 stations worldwide – including EWTN and Guadalupe Radio, as well as on Apple Podcasts. Visit the “Luxurious Corner Booth” of The Catholic Cafe and listen online at www.thecatholiccafe.com. Deacon Jeff works as Director of Catechetical & Sacramental Formation for the Diocese of Memphis. He and his wife of over 30 years have 9 children, and are members of St. Louis Catholic Church in Memphis where he serves as Deacon. Deacon Jeff graduated from the University of Memphis in 1985 with a BA in Communications. For more information about The Catholic Cafe or to find out how to invite Deacon Jeff to speak at your event, send him an email at deaconjeff@thecatholiccafe.com.

Deacon Jeff’s talk title and description…

The Catechist and the Catholic Scriptures

No matter what form our Catholic catechesis may take – whether in PRE, RCIA, Bible studies and small groups, Catholic Schools or even in simple sharing of the Faith in conversation – it benefits us to know just how “Catholic” the Sacred Scriptures really are!


Born a cradle Catholic in New Orleans, Deacon Justin has been involved in ministry most of his life. He has been married to Beatrice Mitchell, also a cradle Catholic, for 40 years. They have 4 children and 9 grandchildren. Deacon Justin was ordained a Permanent Deacon for the Diocese of Memphis in May of 2016 and serves at the Catholic Church of the Resurrection in Memphis, TN. His great love for Catholic Catechesis throughout his life has drawn him to be active this in this important and timely ministry.

Deacon Justin’s talk title and description…

Words to Grow by: Making Catholic Teaching Come Alive

Through the teachings of the Church, we bridge a person’s human identity and their spiritual reality, which then allows us to understand how to establish the desired relationship with God. Once we identify our spiritual reality, we are one step closer to understanding the Sacred miracles provided to us through Scripture.



Sam Mauck is the Director for Youth, Campus, and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of Memphis. He has been working with college students for the past 20 years and in ministry to college students and young adults since 2011. He has appeared on the Catholic Café Radio Show and contributed to Jesuitprayer.org’s daily reflections. He is a yearly speaker at Theology on Tap. A former college mascot and community theatre fan, he is the husband of Jessica and father of three children: Augustine (5), Gabriel (4) and Bernadette (2). He was voted second best beard in youth ministry in November 2019. Also, he loves Jesus.

Sam’s talk title and description…


In order to fulfill our mission as catechists to proclaim the kerygma, we cannot neglect the responsibility to listen to the other. Our role of catechist is not merely to inform, but to accompany others -to form relationships with others so that Christ’s love might manifest itself in us. This talk lays out the need for us to listen well, discusses the benefits of listening for the catechist, and shares some practical ways to practice better listening.


Padre Jaimes Ponce fue ordenado el 25 de Agosto del 2001 para la Diócesis de Colorado Springs. En Diciembre del 2012, obtuvo su doctorado en Derecho Canónico y desde entonces ha desarrollado su ministerio en varios tribunals de Estados Unidos y ha dado varias conferencias y talleres en Derecho Canónico. Actualmente desenvuelve su ministerio com Vicario Judicial Adjunto en la Diócesis de Memphis.

Te llamé, te formé y te envié

Este tema discutriá como el Señor ha llamado a su pueblo a construer su Reino entre nosotros. No solamente nos llama, sino que también nos forma y nos envia a predicar la Buena Nueva por toda la tierra. Este tema toca, sobretodo, la responsibilidad que tenemos como catequistas de conocer los reglamentos de la Iglesia en cuanto al ministerio catequético.


Deacon Freddy Vargas was ordained to the Permanent Diaconate for the Diocese of Knoxville by Bishop Rick Stika on June 11, 2016. He and his family attend the Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, where he serves as deacon. 

Talk Title:  ¿Por qué me debo de casar por la Iglesia?

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