Bios Print

 

For information about hosting an Institute event in North America or outside Australia, Singapore, or Hong Kong, please contact Austin in our US (Colorado Springs) office at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or (719) 219 - 0056 or (888) 878 6789.

International Co-Director:

sherryweddell_web.jpg Sherry Anne Weddell created the first charism discernment process specifically designed for Catholics in 1993.  In 1997, she co-founded the Catherine of Siena Institute, an affiliated international ministry of the Western Dominican Province, and currently serves as Co-Director.  Sherry has developed numerous unique formation resources that are used around the world and trained and helps lead an international team who have worked directly with over 70,000 ordained, religious, and lay Catholics in more than 100 dioceses on 5 continents.  When not hanging around airports, Sherry enjoys tending her high altitude Tuscan garden in the Colorado Rockies.
Sherry Weddell's CV

 

Co-Founder


michael_sweeney_web.jpg Fr. Michael Sweeney, O.P., is a native of Vancouver, BC and was ordained in 1979.  Fr. Michael co-founded the Institute in 1997 and served as Co-Director for 7 years during which he offered workshops on discernment and the theology and formation of the laity to ordained and lay Catholics throughout Canada, the U.S and in Rome. He has also served as pastor, university chaplain, and university/seminary instructor in philosophy and the theology of the laity.   Since 2004, Fr. Michael has been President of the Dominican School of Philosophy & Theology in Berkley, CA and continues to help teach the Called & Gifted Discernment Process at the Graduate Theological Union.

Australian Co-Directors

clara_web.jpg Clara Geoghegan lives in Ballarat, Australia and discovered the Siena Institute the first time she used the internet back in 1998. Since then she has worked to promote the work of the Institute in Australia, eventually establishing the Australian branch in 2004. Clara is the Called and Gifted Coordinator in the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne and lectures in Church History and Spirituality at the Catholic Theological College. Clara is married to Michael, has three teenage children, is a lay Dominican, and is an advocate for the beatification of the Australian heroine, Caroline Chisholm. (www.mrschisholm.com).  
For information about Institute offerings in
Australia, contact Clara at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

anthonywalsh.jpg Fr Anthony Walsh, O.P., is from a family of five and grew up on the New South Wales South Coast.  He earned a degree in Economics and a Licentiate of Sacred Theology and was ordained in 1998. After three years working as Master of Novices for the Dominican Province in Australia, Fr Anthony has been appointed Master of Students (Dominicans in formation).  He serves as Co-Director of the Australian branch of CSI with Clara Geoghegan.

Australian teachers

lorrainemccarthy_web.jpg Lorraine McCarthy is from Melbourne in Australia.  She works as a Pastoral Associate in the parish of Park Orchards/Warrandyte where her main focus is Adult Faith Formation.  She has a Bachelor of Theology and a Graduate Diploma specialising in Spirituality.  She is also a trained Spiritual Director and does retreat work.  Lorraine is married to Jim and has six teenaged and adult children.  Lorraine has been working on the Called and Gifted teaching team since it has began in Australia.

 

fr chris ryan Fr Chris Ryan MGL is originally from Canberra and was ordained there in 2002.  He was parish priest of St Benedict’s, Narrabundah, the Missionaries of God's Love parish in Canberra, and introduced the Called and Gifted workshop to the parish.  He co-ordinated the Australian journey of the World Youth Day Cross and Icon prior to World Youth Day Sydney in 2008 and published In the Light of the Cross as a reflection on that experience. Fr Chris is now the Rector of the Missionaries of God's Love Seminary in Melbourne.


Singapore:

lydialim_web.jpg Lydia Lim is a Lay Dominican and lives in Singapore, where she was born and grew up. She is working to set up the tiny island state's first Called & Gifted teaching team, with the help of the good people at the Catherine of Siena Institute. She has been teaching and helping others discern their charisms since 2008.  She is a journalist by profession and is currently at Stanford University until June 2010 on a Knight Journalism Fellowship.

 

North American Traveling Teachers, Team Leaders, & Collaborators:

At the heart of the Institute are our many wonderful teaching teams and trainers and our thoughtful phone interviewers who help people around the country discern their charisms.   In addition to our Called & Gifted teaching teams which can be parish, deanery or diocesan-based, we have a number of traveling teachers who criss-cross the country with us, making it possible for the Institute to offer as many as 4 of 5 events in different places on the same weekend.   As you can see below, they are men and women of remarkable spiritual depth, theological and pastoral skill, creativity, and apostolic experience and we are blessed beyond measure to be able to know and collaborate with them.  Let us introduce them to you in alphabetical order:


mark cesnik Dc. Mark A. Cesnik, O.P., began teaching for the Catherine of Siena Institute in 2005. A permanent deacon in the Diocese of Tucson he is also a life professed tertiary member of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans) and a graduate of both the University of Arizona (B.A. – Journalism) and the University of San Francisco (M.A. –  theology / pastoral ministry).  Dc. Mark has earned a certificate in Spiritual Direction from the Redemptorist-run Hesychia School of Spiritual Direction. He and his wife, Anna (who is a Certified Lay Ecclesial Minister), are members of Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Tucson where he serves as Coordinator of Ministries and Adult Faith Formation. Dc. Mark travels to teach both the Called & Gifted workshop Interviewer & Facilitator training.  He is also available through the Institute to preach parish missions. If you want to hear a sample homily, you can go to the Corpus Christi Catholic Church website and look for anything from "Deacon Mark".

 

FrChasCanoy Rev. Fr. Charles Canoy, is a Catholic priest of the Diocese of Lansing in Michigan, specializing in the new evangelization.  “Father Chas” was born in the Philippines in 1972, but he grew up in the midwestern college town of Columbia, Missouri.  He received his bachelor’s degree in 1994 from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University in Bloomington.  He then worked for a few years as a Business Planning Associate for General Mills and as a Regional Director for Legatus, an organization of Catholic business leaders.

Before entering seminary, Fr. Canoy also studied two years of philosophy at Franciscan University in Ohio, spending one semester at their Gaming campus in Austria.  He also spent another semester abroad in Rome at the School of Church Communications of the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross.   A transformative 30-day Ignatian retreat during the Lent of 2001 prompted him to pursue the diocesan priesthood and enter Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, where he earned his Master of Divinity (M.Div.), graduating summa cum laude in 2005.

On June 11, 2005, Fr. Canoy was ordained to the priesthood of Jesus Christ.  He served for five years at two parishes, St. Thomas the Apostle in downtown Ann Arbor and St. Andrew the Apostle in Saline, Michigan.  In 2010, he was then assigned to the same seminary from which he graduated where he serves as a professor and seminarian formator as he completes his S.T.L. degree in the New Evangelization.

Fr. Chas still enjoys his childhood sport of golf and is a big fan of Michigan basketball.  As Fr. Chas' YouTube Channel reveals, he also enjoys movies.

 

patrickconley Patrick Conley, grew up as the only child of a doctor and nurse-turned-housewife in the tourist town of Wisconsin Dells, WI. He was involved with his family’s Presbyterian Church from a very early age. At college, he was active in church and an evangelical Protestant collegiate ministry, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. After college, he worked for InterVarsity for nearly a decade, organizing campus meetings, outreach events, and overseas missions. In 2005, he and his wife, Kendra, went to England, where Patrick studied for the Anglican priesthood. While there, he and two American colleagues investigated the teachings and claims of Catholicism, culminating in him being the last of the three to convert: he and his wife were received together into full communion with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil in 2010. Patrick now serves as Director of Faith Formation at the Cathedral of Saint Paul in Saint Paul, MN, which includes facilitating the Called & Gifted workshop four times a year. He also continues his academic theological studies. Patrick’s wife teaches middle school science at a local Catholic school, and they live, together with their Olde English Bulldogge puppy, just outside of Saint Paul.

 

katherine_coolidge Katherine Coolidge, is a Pastoral Associate at St. John Fisher Church, Rancho Palos Verdes. She holds an MA in Pastoral Studies from St. Joseph's College of Maine and is a master catechist for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. She is also a speaker and workshop presenter, assisting parish leaders, ministers and lay faithful as they discover how they are gifted and called to live out Jesus' mission in the world.

 

Fr Bryan Dolejsi Fr. Bryan Dolejsi, born and raised as a Catholic in Seattle, Fr. Bryan earned a Secondary Education and History/Language Arts degree from Western Washington University.  He has worked as a youth minister, Catholic school basketball coach, Catholic school teacher and was a Jesuit Volunteer in Micronesia before entering the Seminary in 2000.  He originally entered the Dominican order studying at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley and Tangaza college in Nairobi, Kenya.  Before final vows the Lord called him back home and after finishing his Masters of Divinity at St. Patrick's Seminary in Menlo Park, CA he was ordained for the Archdiocese of Seattle in 2006.  Fr. Bryan served as a parochial vicar at four parishes in Southeast Tacoma for his first two years and he currently serves as the Priest Administrator at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Issaquah, WA.  He regularly teaches for the Siena Institute and for the Archdiocese.


barbara_elliott.jpg Barbara J. Elliott, who leads CSI’s Houston area Called & Gifted team, is the president of the Center for Renewal, an organization she founded in Houston, TX, in 1997 as a resource for Christ-centered organizations working to renew individuals and communities.  A frequent speaker and guest on radio and television broadcasts, she is the author of three books including Street Saints:  Renewing America’s Cities, a contributor to seven others, and the author of scores of articles on civic renewal.  Barbara holds an MA in theology from the University of St. Thomas in Houston and received an honorary doctorate from the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley.  Earlier in her career she served in the White House and on Capitol Hill, and as an international television correspondent in Europe, and received the Roosevelt Award for Human Rights from the White House for her work serving refugees from communism in Eastern Europe and America’s poor.    Website: www.centerforrenewal.org

 

michael_fones.jpg Fr. Michael Fones, O.P., grew up in central Illinois, and went west to California for graduate school and hasn’t left the west since.  He was ordained in 1992, and spent twelve years in campus ministry in Arizona, Oregon and Utah. In 2004, he was appointed co-Director of the Catherine of Siena Institute, and traveled throughout the U.S. and beyond giving workshops, missions, and talks on the discernment of charisms, vocation, and discipleship.  Since August 2011 he has resided at St. Albert’s Priory, Oakland, CA, where he oversees the formation of the student friars of the Western Dominican Province.  He has a B.S. (Michigan Technological University) and M.S. (Stanford) in geophysics, plays the piano and bassoon, and assists with Institute events from June through early August.

 

amyhoover_web.png Amy Hoover has been involved with Catherine of Siena Institute since 2003 and teaches the Called and Gifted Workshop.  She is the Director of Adult Faith Formation at Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart Parish in Ankeny, Iowa.  She is a spiritual director and enjoys leading small groups, weekend and Ignatian retreats.  She is finishing her Master’s degree in Christian Spirituality at Creighton University.

 

charliehoover_web.png Charlie Hoover attended a Called & Gifted Workshop in 2004 and immediately began incorporating discernment and use of gifts into his prayer and relationship with Jesus.  Charlie currently serves the Lord at a major bank where he leads an information systems department.  He received a Certificate in Theology from Creighton University and currently serves as a RCIA catechist and lay spiritual director for Christian Experience Weekend retreats, leads bible studies, and occasionally offers presentations on a variety of faith topics.  Charlie is discerning a call to return to school for graduate work in scriptural theology and to pursue a teaching ministry.

 

edhopfner_web.jpg Ed Hopfner has taught the Called & Gifted Workshop in parishes across the country and in Canada since 2001. Ed earned an MA at the Dominican School of Philosophy & Theology in Berkeley while also acting as executive assistant to Fr Michael Sweeney, the president of the School and co-founder of the Institute.  Ed is currently the Coordinator for Marriage and Family Life for the diocese of Oakland and leads a study group in the Theology of the Body in Berkley.

 

marykaufman_web.jpg Mary Gannon Kaufmann, M.A., M.S., is co-director of Incarnate Institute, a ministry of retreats and seminars for parishes and religious institutes, along with Fr. Jack Risley, O.P.  Mary teaches the Called & Gifted Workshop and trains C & G facilitators around the country as well as in her own diocese.   Mary also teaches and writes on discerning vocation and the Theology of the Body and has worked in adult faith formation, with MOMS (Ministry of Mothers Sharing), in RCIA, and in religious education as both a catechist and director. Mary lives in Cedar Rapids, IA with her husband, John, and their six children and is completing a post graduate certificate in spiritual direction/directing retreats at Creighton University. You can find more information about the Incarnate Institute at this website www.incarnateinstitute.org.

robertking.jpg Robert King, a native of Seattle, Washington, is a freelance writer and development consultant. He received his B.A. in History from The Colorado College and his M.A. in Philosophy from the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology. Having been blessed to witness the development and beginnings of the Catherine of Siena Institute at his home parish, he has taught The Called and Gifted Workshop for nine years. You can reach Robert through his website, www.virtue-quest.com.


catherine_liberatore Miss Catherine Liberatore, OP, resides in Sacramento, California.  Her academic background includes extensive graduate studies in Catholic theology and catechetics at Catholic Distance University and additional graduate studies in theology and philosophy at the Dominican School of Philosophy & Theology in Berkeley, CA.  She previously earned a B. Music in voice performance and an M.B.A. from Duquesne University and trained for 20+ years as a classical mezzo-soprano; Catherine still performs professionally as local opportunities arise. As a life-professed 3rd Order (Lay) Dominican, Catherine finds great joy in sharing her zeal for the Catholic faith daily. Her parish ministry background includes teaching R.C.I.A. classes and other seminars as needed and cantoring numerous liturgies. Catherine hopes to complete her graduate studies this year with an extensive thesis dealing with the theology of deification, plus a capstone project in ecclesiology. Her professional background includes 14+ years in corporate control and accounting management in both commercial and non-profit organizations.

 

JuanMacias J. Juan Macias, Current Job Title:  Assistant Director of Professional Development - University of Southern California (USC), School of Social Work

After a career in staffing, recruiting and employment sales at Robert Half International, Juan changed careers and obtained his Master of Social Work (MSW) at the University Of Southern California School Of Social Work.  After graduating, he worked as a therapist providing counseling services to juveniles on probation and later as a medical Social Worker.  In 2008, he combined his experience as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with his experience in the staffing industry to start a career consulting practice.    

At his alma mater, Juan currently serves as the Assistant Director of Professional Development where he provides career development services to MSW students and alumni and develops “outside of the box” internships in private industry & departments in non-profits that may not traditionally hire Social Workers.  He also has a BS in Business Administration from California State University, Northridge.

For many years, Juan co-hosted and co-produced a weekly live Catholic television show in Spanish aimed at youth residing throughout Latin America.  He also formed part of a core team for a youth ministry program run by the Carmelite Sisters in Alhambra, California.  He currently lectors at Holy Redeemer Parish in Montrose, California and conducts Called & Gifted Workshops.

 

carolmcgee_web.jpg Carol McGee is a Pastoral Associate for Evangelization, Faith Formation and Ministries at Sacred Heart Church in Boise, Idaho.  Along with a background in Adult Education she holds a certificate in Pastoral Ministry from Loyola University, New Orleans.  In addition to coordinating parish Evangelization Retreats and a traveling retreat team, Carol has led the Institute's Called & Gifted team for the state of Idaho since 2001.  You can find more information about Evangelization Retreats at www.sacredheartboise.org.

 

msm_025_web.jpg Mary Sharon Moore, author, speaker, vocational consultant and spiritual director, has been teaching the Called and Gifted workshop nationwide since 2002. As a Spiritual Gifts interviewer, Mary Sharon brings unexpected clarity, vocational focus, and encouragement to lay Catholic men and women in their charism discernment. Mary Sharon’s four books include Anointed for a Purpose and Moving in God's Direction, and her radio podcast Awakening Vocations can be heard on www.kbvm.fm, Catholic Broadcasting Northwest. More at www.awakeningvocations.com.

 

stephanie_moore_web.jpg Stephanie Moore has been a Called and Gifted Teacher and Interviewer trainer for the past 7 years.  In addition to her work with the Institute, Stephanie is a master trainer for a leading international leadership development company as well as owning her own consulting business specializing in executive coaching, training and facilitation. She is the Director of Engagement and Stewardship at her own parish, St. Anne, in Byron, California and is a graduate of the School for Pastoral Ministry through the Diocese of Oakland.

 

ofelia_neri.jpg Ofelia Neri is an experienced conference speaker addressing spiritual, liturgical, and psychological topics. She has served as a missionary conference speaker across the country and abroad. Ms Neri is the founder of Discipuli Christi, a private association of the faithful in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, for consecrated lay women. Ms Neri participates as a guest speaker in Catholic and secular television and radio programs. She holds a Master of Arts in Pastoral Theology and a Master of Science in Counseling Psychology (Marriage Family Therapy program) and is a certified Spiritual Director. Ms Neri is also fluent in Spanish. She currently works as a Marriage and Family Therapist Intern at Five Acres in Pasadena, California.

 

jen_piccotti_web.jpg Jen Piccotti has taught Called and Gifted Workshops across the country since 2000.  One of her greatest joys is the continual discovery of how the Holy Spirit enlivens and loves individuals and communities in such unique and powerful ways. Workshop participant groups have included parish leadership teams, multi-parish groups, Catholic school teachers, young adult retreats, high school youth groups, and diocesan-sponsored events. Originally from Boise, Idaho, Jen now lives in Orange County, CA with her husband, Gene and daughter, Edie.

 

gauravschroff_web.jpg Fr. Gaurav Shroff is a native of India, but calls the American South home.  He has a BS in Geology and an MA in Religious Studies (New Testament) and has worked as a campus minister prior to entering priestly formation for the Archdiocese of Atlanta. Currently he is at Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, MD.  He has been teaching the Called & Gifted workshop for the Institute since 2008.

 

keithstrohm.jpg Keith Strohm is the Director of Faith Formation for Queen of the Rosary parish in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, and the Executive Director of Lay Formation Resources, an apostolate that provides parish and diocesan staff with assistance in the creation of formation programs, days of reflection, retreats, and parish missions designed to proclaim the gospel, build disciples, and equip lay apostles for their work in the world. He is currently studying for his Master of Divinity degree at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, Illinois.  Keith has traveled extensively as a CSI teacher and trainer since 2005.

 

bobby_vidal.jpg Bobby Vidal is the Director of Evangelization & Lay Formation for Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic Church in Santa Clarita, CA.  Bobby is a trained Spiritual Director and a Master Catechist for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and has served in parish ministry for over 16 years.   Bobby seeks to integrate the Church’s teachings on evangelization, discipleship, and the discernment of charisms into his pastoral planning in order to advance a culture of discipleship in his parish and his region.  Bobby heads up our emerging CSI team in the San Fernando Region of the Archdiocese.