2015 SPEAKERS

GEORGE WEIGEL

Catholic Author and Activist, 
Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center

AL KRESTA

Catholic Broadcaster, Journalist and Author. Former Evangelical Pastor. President and CEO of Ave Maria Radio

TOM PETERSON

Founder and President of
“Catholics Come Home” and Virtue Media, Inc.

DAMON OWENS

Executive Director of the Theology of the Body Institute and Founder of
Joy-Filled Marriage NJ 


Author, Activist & Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center

GEORGE WEIGEL

WEBSITE: Ethics and Public Policy Center | Facebook:George Weigel

Catholics in an Unfamiliar America: Lessons from Saint John Paul II and Pope Francis

ABSTRACT: [Not yet available.}.

OFFICIAL BIO:

George Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, is a Catholic theologian and one of America’s leading public intellectuals. He holds EPPC’s William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies.

From 1989 through June 1996, Mr. Weigel was president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he led a wide-ranging, ecumenical and inter-religious program of research and publication on foreign and domestic policy issues. From June 1996, as a Senior Fellow, Mr. Weigel prepared a major study of the life, thought, and action of Pope John Paul II. Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II was published to international acclaim in the fall of 1999, and has since been translated into twelve languages, with a Chinese edition currently in progress.

Mr. Weigel is the author or editor of some twenty other books, including The End and the Beginning: Pope John Paul II—The Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, the Legacy (Doubleday, 2010); Practicing Catholic: Essays Historical, Literary, Sporting, and Elegiac (Crossroad, 2012); Evangelical Catholicism: Deep Reform in the 21st-Century Church (Basic, 2013) and Roman Pilgrimage: The Station Churches (Basic, 2013).His essays, op-ed columns, and reviews appear regularly in major opinion journals and newspapers across the United States. A frequent guest on television and radio, he is also Vatican analyst for NBC News. His weekly column, “The Catholic Difference,” is syndicated to sixty newspapers.

Mr. Weigel received a B.A. from St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore and an M.A. from the University of St. Michael’s College, Toronto. He is the recipient of eighteen honorary doctorates in fields including divinity, philosophy, law, and social science.


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President and CEO of Ave Maria Radio, Host of "Kresta in the Afternoon" and Author

AL KRESTA

WEBSITE: Ave Maria Radio | Facebook: Kresta in the Afternoon | Podcast: Kresta in the Afternoon

It's Time to Evangelize the Baptized

ABSTRACT: Nobody looking at the numbers describing the state of the Church in America would be optimistic about our future but the Church of Jesus Christ is built on the Resurrection of Christ. In other words, we are a people who don’t believe dead men necessarily stay dead. Why should the Church he founded die in the land of the free and the home of the brave where we still have the freedom to preach the gospel? It is time to reach those millions of Catholics who have been sacramentalized but not evangelized. It is time to evangelize the baptized.

OFFICIAL BIO:

Al Kresta is a broadcaster, journalist and author who is, first of all, a missionary.  He is President and CEO of Ave Maria Radio and host of “Kresta in the Afternoon.” He draws upon his unique faith background to create what is, arguably, the most fascinating — and most spiritually constructive — talk show on radio today.

A 1976 honors graduate of Michigan State University, Al has also done graduate work in theology at both Catholic and Protestant seminaries.  He became well known in the Detroit area for his program, “Talk from the Heart,” one of the top-rated Christian talk shows during the 1980s and 90s.  When he began the program, Al was a Protestant pastor.  The questions forced upon him as pastor, however, led him to return to the Catholic Church.  His profound personal conversion to Christ and return to the Catholic Church is told in the best-selling anthology Surprised By Truth.  

In 1997, Domino’s Pizza founder Tom Monaghan recruited Al to launch the media apostolate, Ave Maria Communications. 
Over the years Ave Maria Communications has included:

  • Credo, which became Michigan’s largest religious publication and the recipient of 18 merit awards from the Catholic Press Association;
  • Ave Maria Radio which produces a number of its own programs and features including Catholic Connection with Teresa Tomeo; The Doctor is In with Dr. Ray Guarendi and Coleen Kelly Mast; More2Life with Greg and Lisa Popcak; Food for the Journey with Sr. Ann Shields, as well as Kresta in the Afternoon and many others
  • The local radio stations WDEO (Detroit and Ann Arbor) and WMAX (Saginaw, Bay City and Midland).

Heard on over 250 stations and Sirius Satellite, Kresta in the Afternoon looks at all areas of life through the lens of Scripture and the teaching of the Catholic Church and takes on all comers.  Over the years, Al has engaged in vigorous discussions or debates with nationally known figures from politics, the arts, the Church, academia and business such as Jack Kevorkian, Mother Angelica, Jesse Jackson, Carl Bernstein, John McCain, Gloria Steinem, Pat Buchanan, Scott Hahn, Donna Shalala, Judge Robert Bork, Richard Gephardt, Jerry Falwell, George McGovern, Steve Allen, Bowie Kuhn, Mrs. Anwar Sadat, Martin Luther King III, Cal Thomas, Avery Cardinal Dulles, Chuck Colson, Alan Dershowitz, Ken Starr, James Earl Ray, Ben Carson, MeadowLark Lemon, Mary Higgins Clark, Terry Bradshaw, Earl Ruby (Jack Ruby’s brother), James Earl Ray (King’s assassin), Malcolm X’s brother, and Elijah Muhammad’s brother.  

Kresta's life and spiritual journey took on a new dimension in February 2003, when he lost his left leg to necrotizing fasciitis, a virulent infection often referred to as the "flesh-eating bacteria."  His extended recovery and eventual return to broadcasting have given him new insights into the realities of suffering and hope. 

He is the author of the recent best-selling book Dangers to the Faith: Recognizing Catholicism’s 21st Century Opponents. He is also author of Why Are Catholics So Concerned about Sin?: More Answers to Puzzling Questions about the Catholic Church, a follow-up to the best-seller Why Do Catholics Genuflect? And Answers to Other Puzzling Questions About the Catholic Faith and co-author with Nick Thomm of Moments of Grace: Inspiring Stories From Well-Known Catholics,

Al and his wife, Sally, have been married for over 30 years and have been blessed with 5 children on earth and two in heaven.


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Founder and President of “Catholics Come Home” and Virtue Media, Inc.

TOM PETERSON

WEBSITE: VirtueMedia.org | WEBSITE: CatholicsComeHome.org

Our World Needs Catholic Heroes!

ABSTRACT: With 94% of the US not practicing the faith handed down to us by Jesus, we are truly in need of the New Evangelization to help usher in a new Springtime of Hope!  With compelling stories of God’s love and mercy (along with a good dose of humor), you’ll discover how to share your Catholic faith, in order to change our world for the better and for eternity.

OFFICIAL BIO:

For 25 years, Tom Peterson built his career as an award-winning, national corporate advertising executive.

But Tom’s life would radically change forever, after receiving an incredible and transforming Spiritual conversion in 1997, while on a men’s retreat from his church.  Soon afterward, he founded VirtueMedia.org and CatholicsComeHome.org.

In the first three years, Catholics Come Home® has aired in 33 dioceses from Boston to Chicago and Seattle to New Orleans, helping lead over 350,000 souls home to the Catholic Church.  In December 2011 through January 2012, their www.CatholicsComeHome.org ads aired nationally, on top TV networks like NBC, CBS, Univision and most top cable networks during prime-time, reaching 125 million viewers ten times each, in every city across the United States!     

In the past decade, Tom has presented to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Australian Media Conference and Australian Bishops Conference, and at various worldwide conferences and Pontifical Councils at the Vatican.  Tom and his apostolates have been featured in nearly three hundred media venues worldwide, including multiple appearances on Fox News and EWTN.

Peterson’s second apostolate, VirtueMedia.org, creates and airs sanctity of life commercials helping as many as 22,000 abortion vulnerable women each month through ads airing on MTV, BET, E! and VH1. Their prolife apostolate features multiple websites such as www.BlackDignity.org,www.PregnancyLine.orgwww.HealingAfter.org and others promoting the sanctity of life.

Their interactive website and TV ads of www.EncouragePriest.org are designed to offer spiritual support for our priests, seminarians, bishops and our Holy Father.

Tom knows his vocation in life is to help people through media.  He encourages others to seek God’s plan for their lives, to help change our world for the better.  Tom and Tricia, his wife of 26 years, and their three daughters live in the suburbs of Atlanta.


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Executive Director of the Theology of the Body Institute and Founder of Joy-Filled Marriage NJ 

DAMON OWENS

WEBSITE: Theology of the Body Institute | Facebook: Theology of the Body Congress  | Twitter: @DamonOwens

The Secret Meaning and Mission of Men

ABSTRACT: 

A man is a spiritual father whose very presence engenders life in others. From “the beginning”, masculinity and femininity has been meant to be a revelation of the deepest mystery of God: that God Himself is an eternal exchange of Love - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - and He has destined us to share in that exchange. Establishing our identity as men from that deepest mystery is the irreplaceable foundation for any meaningful discussion of our mission and vocation as men. Who am I? Why am I here? What does my masculinity mean? How do I live to be truly happy? These are the questions that must be asked, pondered, meditated, and answered by every boy who would make passage to manhood. In light of femininity, our call to communion “in the image and likeness” of God, and love as “self-gift”, masculinity speaks to the “initiation” of the gift of ourselves in love. This initiation engenders life in others. Another name for this sacred engendering of life is fatherhood.

OFFICIAL BIO:

Damon Owens is the Executive Director of the Theology of the Body Institute (www.tobinstitute.org) whose mission is to educate and train men and women to understand, live, and promote the Theology of the Body. He was the founder of Joy-Filled Marriage NJ (www.joyfilledmarriagenj.org), and New Jersey Natural Family Planning Association (www.njnfp.org), non-profit organizations dedicated to building a marriage culture through training, seminars, and conferences. Damon and his wife Melanie began teaching Natural Family Planning (NFP) in 1993, and served as NFP Program Coordinators for the Archdiocese of Newark.
 
In 2011, Damon served as Executive Director of The Children First Foundation, the official NY/NJ/CT sponsors of the Choose Life License Plates dedicated to promoting adoption by raising support and funds for women who choose life and adoption for their crisis pregnancies.
 
A Certified Speaker for the Theology of the Body Institute and National Trainer for Ascension Press since 2006, Damon keeps a full speaking schedule at national conferences, marriage seminars, colleges, high schools, seminaries, and parish groups on the good news of marriage, sexuality, Theology of the Body, Theology of the Family, adoption, and NFP. Damon currently lives in PA with his wife Melanie and their eight children.
 
Damon also served as the NJ Director for the National Organization for Marriage (www.nationformarriage.org) teaching on the true meaning of marriage, its irreplaceable role in keeping a just society, and the public harms of its redefinition. In addition, he was National Spokesman for L.E.A.R.N. (Life, Education, and Resource Network) – the national network of independent African-American pro-life organizations. For more than 20 years, he has been calling attention to the disproportionate effect of anti-family and anti-life issues on the black community.  
 
He was raised with his two sisters in NJ where, among his academic and athletic honors, he achieved the rank of Eagle Scout. He earned his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Brown University in 1988 and an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley in 1990. Following 13 years as manager with a major technology firm, he founded a technology startup in 2001 before moving full-time in support of marriage and the family.
 
Damon has published numerous articles, appeared on many radio and television programs [EWTN, Relevant Radio, ABC World News Tonight, CBS News 48 Hours, BET Evening News, National Public Radio]. In addition to hosting and producing three 13-part series for EWTN, Damon can be seen each year on EWTN’s March for Life broadcast. He is an accomplished gospel singer honored with a solo during the 1995 NJ Papal Mass at Giants Stadium presided by Blessed Pope John Paul II.