Judy Hahn has been involved in the ministry of spiritual direction for more than 30 years, both in Chicago and Grand Rapids. She is also a licensed master’s social worker (LMSW) and a certified advanced alcohol and drug counselor (CAADC) presently working part-time in the counseling program at Catholic Charities West Michigan. In both spiritual direction and counseling, Judy has met individuals negotiating their ways through trauma and abuse. While living in Chicago she also had the opportunity to journey with women involved in prostitution and heard their many stories of pain and suffering as well as of recovery and healing.
John Yowaish is a Dominican Associate and a parishioner at St. Alphonsus where he is a sacristan, Eucharist minister, and lector. He has also participated in several mission trips to New Orleans and Baton Rouge as well as right here in the West Michigan community. John also serves by bringing Holy Communion to the sick at Saint Mary's Hospital. As a Christian, John believes in bringing the gospel to others through God's Word as did St. Dominic. He also shows God's love to everyone through his deeds. Saint Mother Teresa is John's favorite saint.
As a lifetime parishioner of St. Alphonsus in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Mary Jo sings with the choir, is part of the ladies auxiliary, and serves as a lector, Eucharistic minister, and sacristan. Additionally, Mary Jo volunteers by helping with the Christmas store, delivering Thanksgiving meals and Christmas baskets, assisting with the food and clothing pantry, and also serves as a Eucharistic minister at Saint Mary's Hospital. Her mission work includes helping those in need in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and here in our West Michigan community. She truly enjoys helping others and seeing the smiles on the faces she's served, much like her favorite saint, Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Mary Jo and her husband John have been married for 28 years, have three grown children (John, Nicole, and Amy), five wonderful grandchildren, and one beautiful angel in heaven.
Justin Beene, lives with his wife, Karianne and their three children, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Justin holds a bachelor's of Social Work and Family Studies from Western Michigan University, a master's in Social Work in Management of Human Services from the University of Michigan, a Master of Art in Ministry Leadership from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, a doctoral degree in Transformational Leadership with a focus in entrepreneurial transformation from Bakke Graduate University.
Justin is the director and founder of a partnership called the Grand Rapids Center for Community Transformation, a collective between non-profits, Bethany Christian Services, NAACP of Greater Grand Rapids, GR Nehemiah Project, and two social enterprises, Building Bridges Professional Services and Rising Grinds Café; together partners work to create a flourishing city in Grand Rapids.
Further, Justin is a serial social entrepreneur starting both social enterprises, Building Bridges Professional Services and Rising Grinds Café, along with two consulting businesses, Impact Partners, L3C, and Transformational Executive Coaching, LLC, providing coaching, consulting, and speaking. Justin is a visionary and practitioner with extensive knowledge and skills in starting and scaling social enterprises, utilizing multiple forms of funding for collaborative projects, creating win/win solutions across sectors, and connecting resources to real problems in innovative and sustainable ways.
Brian is a certified spiritual director and volunteer with the Kaufman Institute, serving the Grand Rapids interfaith community. He is passionate about helping people become aware of their own inner journey while affirming their individual path or tradition. He believes we each have a unique love language with the Divine, and through spiritual practice we are able to find wholeness and experience meaningful spiritual connection.
Brian has lived overseas and traveled extensively, both professionally and on various faith pilgrimages. He is a contemplative at heart and believes what we all need most is healing (body, mind, spirit) and connection (with each other and the Divine).
When Brian is not working with Dominican Center and Kaufman Institute, he manages a team of architects for Steelcase, where he has worked for 25 years. He holds a master's degree in contract law and has served on many boards.
Sister Mary Kay is a Dominican Sister of Grand Rapids, Michigan, has served laity and clergy in theological education, as well as ministerial and spiritual formation. After serving as Director of Dominican Associate Life from 2008-2017 for her congregation, she is focusing on education in faith and spirituality to support parishes in urban and rural communities. Sister Mary Kay has a PhD in theology and education from Boston College, and a certificate in Spiritual Direction from Mercy Center in California.
Kim Bartz has more than 10 years of experience as a social worker. She is a graduate of Western Michigan University’s Master’s of Social Work program and has a clinical license in the State of Michigan. She has worked with people from all different backgrounds and walks of life. Currently, she is a mental health counselor in her own private practice in Caledonia.
Ministry has taken Sister Mary Catherine Fodrocy to several places in Michigan. She has served in Grand Rapids, Saginaw, Ravenna, Ionia, Remus, Three Rivers, and Kalamazoo. She recently retired from St. Joseph Parish, Kalamazoo, after 24 years as pastoral associate there.
Various ministry roles throughout Sr. Mary Catherine's life have been teaching, administration, and pastoral ministry with people from 6 to 100 years old. She has been involved in sacramental preparation for adults, primarily through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) since the beginning of its implementation in the United States after Vatican II. The unifying thread through these ministries has been walking with people through the ups and downs, twists and turns of our journey of faith together.
Sister Joan Thomas is a member of the Dominican Sisters~Grand Rapids liturgical team where she helps plan liturgy, leads the Dominican Chapel Choir, and provides piano accompaniment during liturgy. She performed with the Mellow D’s, a musical group that shared their love of music during the 1960s and 1970s. Many still recognize the Mello D’s multi-part vocals with instrumental backups of piano, guitars, bass and drums.
Sister Joan holds a bachelor's degree from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, as well as a master's degree from the University of Illinois. Her ministries have included teaching, leadership, organization, and marketing. She treasures the many opportunities to engage in the lives and hearts of people across our country – and believes that together they have made a difference in the world.
Whether through writing, leading, photography, Aleka Thrash is passionate about empowering people to be the best they can be. She encourages people to take care of themselves both inside and out through her lifestyle blog, NaturallyACT. She is also co-founder of Kinky Hair Connection, which is an annual event to help women and girls embrace who they are. With over 10 years of experience in photography, she inspires others through her company, ACT PhotoMedia. In addition, Aleka served BL²END Business Leaders Linked to Encourage New Directions as a board member, committee member and facilitator of a workshop in digital marketing.
After discovering the Zentangle® Method on her own, Amy W.M. Kam felt called to share this relaxing and transformative drawing practice with many others. She pursued certification by Zentangle founders Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts. As an avid “Tangler,” runner, gardener, and breast cancer survivor, Amy seeks to share the life lessons embedded within the patterns her students learn through simple step-by-step instructions and the outcome of beautiful pieces of art.
Amy derives her greatest joy as an instructor when a student uncovers a new appreciation of their own uniqueness and embraces the diverse beauty of different patterns they see around the table.
Amy serves on the Big Brother Big Sister Advisory Council at D.A. Blodgett-St. Johns, is a founding member and treasurer of Sole Sisters, and serves the Sunday Assembly at Dominican Center at Marywood Chapel in multiple ministry capacities.
Born in Denver, Colorado, Barry Brown was inspired to capture the beauty of the world in photographs from a young age. The son of a modern architect and educated in electrical engineering during his tenure in the Army, Barry is blessed with both technical skills and an eye for aesthetics.
With a bachelor’s degree in business and a minor in visual arts from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Barry launched a full-time photography studio in 2001 and quickly became a leading photographer in Colorado Springs.
Since earning a master’s degree in healthcare management from Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, Oregon in 2012, Barry has worked primarily the healthcare field and now consults in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Barry practices photography part time and is known for his intimate and emotional portraits. His knowledge of lighting, camera functions, and editing allow Barry to focus the viewer’s eye on the subject without distraction. Barry seeks to make photography accessible to all and enjoys sharing his knowledge and skills with others.
Carmelita Switzer, OP, serves as a staff facilitator and presenter for Dominican Center at Marywood. She holds a Master of Arts Degree in Religious Studies from Aquinas College and a Master of Arts Degree in Biblical Studies from Providence College. She completed Pastoral Studies with an emphasis in Formation Studies at Aquinas Institute on the campus of St. Louis University. Her ministries include teaching, pastoral ministry in a parish setting, and pastoral administration in a parish that had no priest. She has also spent time in ministry on behalf of the Grand Rapids Dominican Sisters as director of formation and as co-director of Pastoral Life for the Marywood Campus. Coming from a rural farm community background she loves Michigan’s many lakes and natural beauty and God’s creatures large and small. Study of spirituality and living an integrated contemplative and active lifestyle have been long-time interests and priorities.
Diane Hamel, a lifelong artist, studied fine art at Michigan State University from 1971 - 1975. After raising her family, she returned to Aquinas College in 1989, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in theology. Diane worked as a professional lay minister at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Greenville, Michigan, where she served as the Director of Religious Education for nine years. In 2000, Diane began working at St. Patrick Parish in Parnell, Michigan, as the Director of the Catechumenate. In addition to her ministry at St. Patrick Parish, she served the Roman Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids, Michigan, as a member of the Liturgical Art and Environment Commission for many years. Diane has given numerous workshops on preparing sacred spaces and liturgical environments.
In 1997, Diane attended A Brush with God, an icon workshop. It was during this experience her two passions of faith and art converged, and she's studied iconography and painting icons since. In addition to studying with Xenia Prokovsky, a Russian iconographer, Diane has written many icons for private collections, churches, and other institutions, including the Cathedral of St. Andrew in the Diocese of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Her icons are exhibited around the United States, and one belongs to the private collection of Bishop James Harvey, the Prefect for the Papal Household at the Vatican.
Diane gives private lessons, guides retreats and workshops, and teaches college courses on the technical skills and spiritual aspects of creating an icon. She works out of her studio, Viriditas Icon Studio in Lowell, Michigan. She is privileged to be a part of the rediscovery of iconography within the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church.
Trained at the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation and the Loyola University Chicago Institute for Pastoral Studies, Dr. Ruth Haley Barton is a seasoned spiritual director, teacher, and retreat leader. She has served on the pastoral staff of several churches, is Professor of Spiritual Transformation at Northern Seminary, and the author of spiritual formation books and resources, including Pursuing God's Will Together: A Discernment Practice for Leadership Groups (June, 2012), Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership, Sacred Rhythms, and Invitation to Solitude and Silence.
Pope Francis appointed Father Oswaldo Escobar, ocd, as the new Bishop of Chalatenango (El Salvador).
Born on May 20, 1968, near the diocese of which he is now bishop, he entered the Order of Discalced Carmelites and made his solemn profession in December 1995. His priestly ordination took place on St. Joseph’s feast day in 1996. He completed his studies in philosophy and theology in Guatemala and went on to study in the CITeS in Ávila, Spain. He completed a licentiate in Spiritual Theology in the Pontifical Theological Faculty Teresianum (Rome) in 2008.
In his province of Central America, he has been formator of postulants and students, pastor, prior, and is currently provincial. Until his appointment, he was also president of the Conference of Religious of El Salvador.
The diocese of Chalatenango was created on December 30, 1987, by Pope Saint John Paul II. It includes the department of the same name located to the north of San Salvador, the country’s capital.
Jack Jezreel is the original creator of JustFaith, founder of JustFaith Ministries, and was the first executive director of the organization. Prior to that, he spent five years in a Catholic Worker community working with men and women who were homeless and, after that, divided his time between faith-based justice education and organic agriculture. He holds a B.A. in philosophy and religion and a Master of Divinity degree from Notre Dame. He and his spouse Maggie have been married for 32 years and have three adult daughters. Jack is a popular speaker and author of the book, A New Way to Be Church: Parish Renewal from the Outside In.
Jeanette Banashak has been teaching and leading international trips since 1998. Professionally, her interdisciplinary focus includes education, spiritual formation, creativity, and Spanish. She holds two doctorates in education and a certificate in Spiritual Direction and the Enneagram. Most recently, she completed her dissertation on the interrelationship between creativity and contemplative prayer/meditation. She is passionate about creating experiences where people interact in new cultural environments. She is a Creativity Coach and former Professor of Creativity. When she's not teaching, she enjoys playing board games and telling stories.
Joshua Banner is director of The Invitation, a resource for spiritual direction, retreats, teaching, and consulting. He is also creator and host of the Invitation's podcast, which serves the spiritually hungry and has a special focus on pastors and prisoners. Much of Josh's joy is discovering how God is actively involved in the lives of the men he prays with at the EC Brooks Correctional Facility in Muskegon, Michigan.
Josh has served extensively in local churches and in campus ministries in worship arts and discipleship. He has degrees in literature and philosophy (Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois); a master's in interdisciplinary studies (Regent College, Vancouver, British Columbia); and is currently writing a dissertation on the spirituality of confinement for a Doctor of Ministry in spiritual direction (Fuller Seminary, Pasadena, California). Josh is also an adjunct professor at Hope College in the Studies in Ministry.
Josh and his wife, poet Susanna Childress, their two sons Casper and Shepherd, and daughter Merritt live in Holland, Michigan.
Kathy Julien believes yoga is a healing and transformative practice. While Kathy embarked on a 200-hour yoga teacher training program in 2013, it was with the intention to deepen her personal practice. But during her training program, she began to notice she couldn’t help herself from sharing what she’s learned with anyone who expressed the slightest interest. Kathy’s desire as a yoga teacher is to help students cultivate the beautiful gifts they have to offer, one breath at a time. Kathy brings to her students a mindful practice that encourages mind, body and spirit connection.
Leara Glinzak earned her Master of Science in Art Therapy with a concentration in counseling from Mount Mary University in Milwaukee, WI. She is a registered art therapist and a counselor in her own private practice, I Light LLC, where she contracts out art therapy services and provides services at I Light LLC's studio as well. Services include workshops, programs, open studio, and individual and group therapy sessions. She is grounded in a person-centered approach and specializes in grief, trauma, cancer care, distress, spirituality, addiction, and dementia.
Leara is a member of the Michigan Art Therapy Association and the American Art Therapy Association, where she serves on the research board. She has presented at several conferences, including the American Art Therapy Association, Mount Mary Symposium, Leading Age, and Pathway to Caregiving Conference. Her research, entitled Effects of Art Therapy on Distress Levels of Adults with Cancer: A Proxy Pretest Study is published in the Journal of the American Art Therapy Association. Leara looks forward to constantly growing within her practice and honored to be a guide for others along their journey.
Nahed Fernando is a certified spiritual director in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Nahed emigrated from Egypt to America at a young age, and has a diverse Christian church background and multicultural perspective that informs her worldview. She enjoys sharing contemplative readings of sacred scripture and meditative prayer processes one-on-one or within group settings. Nahed is a former homeschool mother and enjoys reading, writing, painting, and sharing tea-time with others.
Sam Kalawart is a natural mental health practitioner in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Sam is here to guide you toward body peace by showing you how to naturally overcome anxiety, depression, and chronic stress. Through her own health journey, she has realized the power of an integrated approach to healing with both nutrition and lifestyle changes. Sam's work also focuses on the importance of strengthening our mind+body connection and releasing stress with breathwork and energy therapy.
With infinite loving kindness, attentive listening, forthright feedback, and an ever-expanding discernment of coaching principles, Sandra Mitchell offers clients a safe space to explore and find freedom from the fear and frustration that stands between them and the life they most long for.
Sandra's experience in coaching and mentoring includes: helping clients break through health and wellness issues; supporting those dealing with the heartbreak and confusion of supporting addicted loved ones; empowering those grappling with career, relationship, and other life transitions; and inspiring clients to rediscover themselves and create lasting change.
Trained and certified as a coaching professional, Sandra spent a full year in intense study, training, practice, and supervision. In addition, Sandra holds a degree from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and has worked for more than 25 years as a writer, marketer, and mentor for those who nurture heart-centered wellness practices, ministries, nonprofits, and small businesses.
Susan is passionately committed to continually living a life of authenticity and to loving herself and others fiercely, knowing that her heart’s wisdom will never lead her astray. She feels deep gratitude for many things: vibrant relationships, yoga, meditation, nature, travel, a good book, and abundant laughter.
Susan’s heartfelt intention is to help her clients remember their wholeness. She specializes in assisting individuals to understand their core stories and to see how these stories can negatively impact their health, their relationships, their happiness, and their ability to fulfill their life’s purpose. She offers concrete ways to help people let go of thoughts and perceptions that prevent them from living a life filled with love, peace, and joy.
Although Susan has been an energy intuitive since childhood, in 2004 she pursued formal training with Master Intuitive Kathy Reider of Intuitive Services Inc. and with Reiki Master Jan Atwood, LLC. After working for several years with Kathy and with Jan, she earned her Reiki Master certification and honed her innate intuitive energy reading abilities. She has been an intuitive counselor and energy therapist in private practice ever since.
Susan holds a graduate certificate in Holistic Health from Western Michigan University and has taught WMU’s graduate course on managing stress. She is a certified integrative life coach with The Ford Institute, specializing in Jungian shadow work; a 500-hour yoga teacher with eight years of teaching experience; a Reiki master; a certified labyrinth facilitator with Veriditas; and a holistic stress management facilitator with The Paramount Wellness Institute.
In addition to working privately with clients as an intuitive counselor and as an energy therapist at The Eagle Park Wellness Collective in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Susan hosts retreats and presents transformative workshops as well as offers private yoga therapy, breath work intensives, meditation sessions, and weekly public yoga classes.
To learn more about Susan, please see her website www.susanduesbery.com
Ann Walters, OP, earned her master’s degree in Christian spirituality from Creighton University. Sr. Ann is active in leading adult faith formation classes, workshops, and seminars; preaching at and directing retreats; and providing spiritual direction. Her past work includes serving as co-director of Collaborative Dominican Novitiate of the United States Dominican Women’s Congregations; director of formation for Grand Rapids Dominicans; and elementary and high school education administration. She has also been active in inner-city ministries in Detroit; Chicago; rural northern Michigan; St. Louis, Missouri; and Gusau, Nigeria, West Africa.
Diane Zerfas, OP, is the coordinator for the Spirituality Center for Dominican Center at Marywood, and is deeply involved in the center's Spiritual Formation programs through the planning and teaching of Foundations in Spirituality, Spiritual Companioning, and Spiritual Direction Practicum. She holds bachelor's degrees in math, chemistry, theology, and education from Aquinas College; master's degrees in Arts in Religious Studies and in Pastoral Studies; a Specialized Certificate in Parish Life and Administration; and a Certificate in Spiritual Direction. Sr. Diane has ministered in many ways, including teaching high school as well as serving as formation director for Grand Rapids Dominicans, initiation and evangelization director at St. Mary Magdalen in Kentwood, Diocesan director of RCIA for the Diocese of Grand Rapids, co-director of Pastoral Life at Marywood, and leadership team member for the Dominican Sisters ~ Grand Rapids.
Dr. Janice Lundy, DMin, is an interfaith/interspiritual guide, the author of several spiritual formation books including Your Truest Self and My Deepest Me, and the creator of the Pure Presence® method of compassionate listening (workbook forthcoming). She is currently visiting professor of spiritual direction at The Graduate Theological Foundation. She is also the co-founder and co-director, along with Dr. Jeanette Banashak, of the Spiritual Guidance Training Institute, which provides education and certification in interfaith and interspiritual direction.
Nancy Brousseau, OP, has been a spiritual and retreat director for more than 30 years. She facilitates an interfaith committee, and her work with group spiritual direction with the people of the Heartside Neighborhood in Grand Rapids is published in Group Spiritual Direction: The Lived Experience. She offers ecumenical retreats, spiritual direction, workshops, and programs in prayer, spirituality, and spiritual formation for churches in Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. Sr. Nancy has certificates in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius and Spiritual Direction, and is a certified grief-recovery specialist. She was director of Dominican Center at Marywood for five years and director of Spirituality Programs for six years. Sr. Nancy has a Master of Arts in Religious Education, a Master of Divinity, and a Doctor of Ministry in Spiritual Direction. She taught middle school students for 17 years and served five years in school administration.