“There is a great need in the Catholic Church to better prepare people for the vocation of marriage, especially as they are exploring relationships but not yet engaged to be married. The Relationship Ready speakers are all faithful Catholics with a tremendous variety of experience in marriage ministry; the series will help fill a need currently existing in the Church to better serve single Catholics. Thank you Anastasia for your work in putting this together.” – Most Reverend Salvatore J. Cordileone, Archbishop of San Francisco
WEEK 1: Discovering God’s Vision for Love and Marriage – Damon Owens
WEEK 2: Building the Dream: 10 Steps for Creating a Happy, Holy Relationship – Dr. Greg & Lisa Popcak
WEEK 3: Spirituality and Expectations in Marriage – Dr. Christopher & Wendy West
WEEK 4: How Attachment Styles Affect Relationships – Kevin McDevitt
WEEK 5: Divorce & Annulment: Hope for the Future – Rose Sweet
WEEK 6: Practical Tips for a Good Marriage & Family of Origin – Couples Panel
WEEK 1: Male/Female Complementarity – Fr. Thomas Loya
WEEK 2: Communication and Conflict Resolution – Elizabeth (and Ross) Busby
WEEK 3: Serving the Emotional Needs of the Other – Greg & Julie Alexander
WEEK 4: How Family Brokenness Affects your Pursuit of Love – Dr. Daniel & Bethany Meola
WEEK 5: Healing in Marriage – Dr. Bob Schuchts
WEEK 6: Connecting the Dots: A JPII Perspective – Anastasia Northrop
GREG AND JULIE ALEXANDER
Several years ago, Greg and Julie Alexander were at a point where they concluded that a divorce was the only way out of what they thought to be a troubled marriage. A dear priest guided them back to the truths of the Catholic Church and as they began to learn those truths and incorporate them into their lives they were able to restore the love that they once had for each other.
After miraculously returning from the brink of divorce by inviting God back into their relationship, Greg and Julie began working on what is now known as The Alexander House, a non-profit apostolate dedicated to proclaiming the beauty, goodness, and truth of marriage. Their revolutionary Marriage Works N-HIM™ process is consistent with Catholic Church teachings and traditional family values and virtues, and has helped thousands of couples return to happy and joy-filled marriages.
Greg obtained a bachelor’s degree in photo-communication from St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, and Julie studied business, also at St. Edward’s University. They both have experience in sales and marketing. The Alexanders spent two and half years as Coordinators of the Family Life Office in the Diocese of Austin and a year and a half as House Parents at a maternity home in Georgetown, Texas. However, their greatest learning experience has come through their relationship with one another and their children.
Greg and Julie have been trained in coaching and numerous marriage and parenting education courses and together they bring a passion for helping individuals and couples be the best they can be. As speakers, they bring church teaching coupled with their own marriage and family experience and present it in a practical and energizing way. Together they have presented numerous workshops and talks around the nation and these events have provided individuals and couples with tremendous hope and encouragement in their existing and potential marriages.
Elizabeth Busby, MTS, MS, LMFT, is co-founder with her husband Ross of Discerning Marriage Ministries and the Next Step program, a parish-based course written for seriously dating couples who want to discern more intentionally.
Elizabeth has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Texas A&M University (whoop!), and a Master’s degree in Theological Studies from Ave Maria University, where she wrote her thesis on how St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body can aid in the discernment of a vocation to marriage. Additionally, she holds a Master’s degree in Counseling with a focus on marriage and family therapy from Southern Methodist University, and she works as a Marriage and Family Therapist. She has a passion for helping people fall in love with Jesus and helping people discern and live God’s joyful plan for holy marriages. She currently works with the TOB Institute in Pennsylvania.
Elizabeth loves living the liturgical year with her family, the fact that the leaves change color in autumn, watching the Aggies BTHO everybody (ha!), and traveling.
Raphy & Sara Feolino are founders of Journey to Marriage, an organization that empowers Catholic couples to create holy & vitalized relationships, so that they can discern & prepare for marriage with confidence. After experiencing 10+ years of being in toxic relationships and Sara being raised in a divorced household, they went on a journey to discover the secrets to creating thriving relationships. They are Certified Empowered Couples Coaches, which is accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF). They are hosts of the podcast, Journey to Marriage, which reaches Catholics worldwide, sharing practical strategies to transform their spiritual life, mindset, & relationship skills while on their journey to marriage. They reside in Las Vegas, Nevada and are huge foodies, enjoy jammin’ to Disney & worship songs, and are loving on their two little kiddos.
FR. THOMAS LOYA
Fr. Thomas J Loya, is currently the pastor of Annunciation of the Mother of God Byzantine Catholic Parish in Homer Glen, IL. He is the co-founder and director of the Tabor Life Institute, as well as the host of two radio programs; “Light of the East” which can be heard in more than 60 cities across the United States on several Catholic radio networks including EWTN Radio as well as “Beyond the Veil,” heard on Ave Maria radio. His daily Facebook Live videos are loved by many for their humor and informative content.
Before entering the seminary Fr. Loya earned a degree from the Cleveland Institute of Art and pursued a career in commercial art and design. He later completed his studies for the priesthood in both Pennsylvania and Rome where he attended the North American College earning an STB from the Angelicum University. During his time in Rome, Fr. Loya first heard St. Pope John Paul II’s monumental teaching on the human person when he attended his weekly audiences about The Theology of the Body.
Fr. Loya was ordained in 1982 and later added to his Bachelor of Fine Arts by earning a Masters in Counseling and Human Services in 1993. Fr. Loya has served the Church in youth and young adult ministry as well as an artist and design consultant. He has directed many retreats and has been a guest speaker at several conventions including World Youth Day 2002, and has spoken at the NCSC numerous times. Using his background in art, counseling, and Eastern Catholic spirituality, Fr. Loya applies the principles of The Theology of the Body to an understanding of all aspects of the human experience.
Kevin McDevitt completed a Masters in Psychology at Divine Mercy University in 2021 with a focus on attachment theory and its application within marriage preparation. This stemmed from a conviction that it is critical for engaged couple to develop an understanding of attachment before they get married. Ultimately, creating secure attachment is one of the keys to a stable and fulfilling marriage.
Before finishing his masters in psychology, he worked for 24 years in financial services, mostly as an investment analyst. He also has a BBA from The College of William and Mary and a MBA from Washington University.
Kevin is a member of the GS24 Community. He lives in the great state of Texas and in his free time, he hopes to make this the year that he finally learns how to two-step.
Christian and Christine Meert founded Agape Catholic Ministries in 2012 to gather different Catholic family-building ministries.
Christian and Christine created a marriage prep program anchored in St John Paul II Theology of the Body for in-person classes in 1999 for the Archdiocese of Denver to help engaged couples build strong Christ centered marriages. In 2003 the Archdiocese of Denver asked the Meert’s to help couples who couldn’t participate to in-person classes. The marriage prep program was offered online and the results were amazing. This is how and why they started CatholicMarriagePrep.com and launched the first online Catholic Marriage Prep program in 2004. It’s a one-on-one, mentor led, very interactive, deeply spiritual and very personal program, available in English, Spanish, French and bilingual.
Over 60,000 couples have already successfully completed the course online.
In July 2005, Bishop Michael J. Sheridan, Bishop of Colorado Springs, hired Christian and Christine to run the Office of Marriage and Family Life in his diocese, until February 2022.
In 2010, Christian and Christine expanded the ministry. Very quickly, priests asked Catholic Marriage Prep to create a Quinceañeras preparation program along the same lines. CatholicQuincePrep.com is dedicated to helping Hispanic teen girls to face the challenges of our culture.
In 2012, more requests from priests arrived: infant baptismal preparation, and most of all enrichment classes to help married couples and families to be stronger in their faith and relationships. CatholicBaptismPrep.com
DR. DAN and BETHANY MEOLA
Dr. Daniel and Bethany Meola are the founders and directors of Life-Giving Wounds, a Catholic ministry dedicated to the spiritual healing of adult children of divorce or separation.
Daniel Meola is an adult child of divorce who earned his Ph.D. in Theology of Marriage and Family from the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in Washington, D.C. He has been leading retreats and support groups for adult children of divorce or separation since 2015 in the Archdiocese of Washington, and in 2018 he founded Life-Giving Wounds to spread the retreat, support groups, and other ministry to adult children of divorce or separation around the country.
Dan has over fifteen years of experience running retreats and giving presentations to various groups, including for youth, young adults, engaged couples, and families.
Bethany Meola has a master of theological studies degree from the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in Washington, D.C. She and Dan met there and married in 2011. Bethany served the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for seven years in the Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth. Among other tasks, she managed the website For Your Marriage, and researched and wrote on various topics related to marriage and family. In 2017, Dan and Bethany welcomed their daughter Zelie-Louise through the gift of adoption, and Bethany became a stay-at-home mom. And in 2019, Grace joined their family, also through adoption.
Dan and Bethany live in Bowie, MD with their two daughters and a cat.
Anastasia Northrop has been studying and promoting St. John Paul II’s message on love and the human person for over 22 years. Founder and Director of the National Conference for Single Catholics (NCSC), she has been particularly involved in applying John Paul II’s message to the single life since 2005. Inadvertently single herself, she has had much more practice living the theology of the body as a single woman than she ever anticipated.
Along with the annual conference, NCSC hosts GS24 online discussion groups and various other online and in-person events which offer formation and community for single Catholics of all ages. Many of her blog articles can be found here
Along with organizing various other events, writing articles, and networking internationally with those disseminating John Paul II’s work, she has given talks and promoted study groups internationally. Following studies at the International Theological Institute in Austria, she completed her Masters in Catholic Applied Theology with an emphasis on Marriage and Family through Maryvale Institute in Birmingham, England. She is the author of the study guide for the text of the Theology of the Body entitled The Freedom of the Gift, and a contributing author to Freedom: 12 Lives Transformed by Theology of the Body (Ascension Press, 2009).
MARK & SUSAN NORTHROP
Mark & Susan Northrop have been married for 47 years and are the grateful parents of 9 and grandparents of 19. They started an audio and video recording ministry (OFWC Media) in 1993 for the purpose of evangelization. Their main focus for the past 22 years has been helping to share the teachings of Saint John Paul II on the Theology of the Body. Additionally, they worked for several years with the Marriage and Family Life office in San Antonio, TX presenting at marriage-prep weekends to dozens of couples.
They currently offer CatholiCasts as the largest collection of Theology of the Body talks online.
Discovering God’s Vision for Love and Marriage
Married 27 years, Damon and Melanie Owens are founders of Joyful Ever After and hosts of The Catholic Marriage Summit 2020. Since 1993, Melanie, full-time homeschooling mother of eight, and Damon, first executive director of the Theology of the Body Institute, have trained over 20,000 couples in marriage, NFP, and Theology of the Body.
Presenters at the 2015 World Meeting of Families and the 2017 USCCB Convocation of Catholic Leaders, Damon and Melanie keep a full international speaking schedule at conferences, seminars, universities, high schools, seminaries, and parishes on the good news of marriage, sexuality, Theology of the Body, Theology of the Family, adoption, and NFP.
Damon has published numerous articles, appears regularly on many radio and television programs (EWTN, Catholic Answers, Ave Maria, Relevant Radio, Immaculate Heart Radio, ABC World News Tonight, CBS News, NPR), and has hosted and produced three 13-part television series for EWTN. He is also an accomplished gospel singer honored with a solo during the 1995 NJ Papal Mass at Giants Stadium presided by Pope St. John Paul II.
In 2018, Pope Francis honored Damon with the papal Benemerenti Medal in recognition for his service to the Church in support of marriage and family. Damon and Melanie are the parents of eight and live outside of Philadelphia.
Jeannine Peters received her Spiritual Direction Certificate through Divine Mercy University. She is also certified in Theology of the Body through the Theology of the Body Institute and is trained in Unbound Healing Prayer through Heart of the Father Ministries. She holds an MA in Religion and Religious Education from Providence College and an MA in Theology from the Catholic University of America.
In addition to her spiritual direction practice, Jeannine is a Spiritual Director on courses at the Theology of the Body Institute as well as a Training Facilitator for the Spiritual Direction Certificate Program at Divine Mercy University.
Her approach to spiritual direction is directee-centered, assisting the directee in deepening his or her relationship with God by active listening to the movements of God within the heart.
She’s a contributing author to various books and websites on topics including adoption, faith, prayer, and Theology of the Body.
Jeannine has been married for 21 years and is the mother of two teenage girls. She can be reached through her website at www.jeanninepeters.com where she occasionally blogs.
GREG AND LISA POPCAK
Building the Dream: 10 Steps for Creating a Happy, Holy, Relationship
Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak are the directors of CatholicCounselors.com, the largest, group, Catholic tele-counseling practice in North America.
Through CatholicCounselors.com, they and their associates provide over 15,000 hours of Catholic-integrated individual, marriage, and family counseling, coaching, and spiritual direction services per year.
Together, they are the authors of over 20 popular books integrating the timeless wisdom of our Catholic faith with contemporary research in counseling psychology. Their titles include For Better…FOREVER!, How to Heal Your Marriage and Nurture Lasting Love, Holy Sex!, and many others.
They also host More2Life Radio, a theology of the body-based advice program airing each weekday at 10amE/9C on over EWTN Radio affiliates and on SiriusXM130.
The Popcaks are members of the USCCB’s National Advisory Board on Marriage and Family Ministry. In that role they are responsible to developing standards for diocesan marriage and family ministry across the US. They are also founding directors of the Peyton Institute for Domestic Church Life, a partnership between CatholicCounselors.com and Holy Cross Family Ministries that is committed to carrying on the legacy of Venerable Fr. Patrick Peyton, CSC, and promoting family spirituality and well-being through original research, professional training, and program development. Through the Peyton Institute, the Popcak’s have trained Marriage and Family Life ministers in 16 countries on 5 continents.
DR. BOB SCHUCHTS
Bob Schuchts is the bestselling author of Be Healed, Be Transformed, and Be Devoted. He is the founder of the John Paul II Healing Center in Tallahassee, Florida, and cohost of the Restore the Glory podcast with Jake Khym.
After receiving his doctorate in family relations from Florida State University in 1981, Schuchts became a teacher and counselor. While in private practice, he also taught graduate and undergraduate courses at Florida State and Tallahassee Community College. Schuchts later served on faculty at the Theology of the Body Institute and at the Center for Biblical Studies—where he taught courses on healing, sexuality, and marriage—and was a guest instructor for the Augustine Institute. He volunteered in parish ministry for more than thirty years.
He retired as a marriage and family therapist in December 2014.
Schuchts has two daughters and eight grandchildren. His wife, Margie, died in 2017.
RAY & ARY SPENCER
Ray & Ary Spencer have been married for seven years. They originally met on CatholicMatch and entered a long-distance dating relationship, as Ray lived in Minnesota and Ariadna lived in Mexico. Their marriage testifies to the fact that a joy-filled God-centered relationship can flourish between two people from different countries, with different languages and cultural backgrounds. Prayer, the Catholic faith, the Theology of the Body, and of course, Christ Himself, all continue to be a foundational part of their marriage.
Rose Sweet is a certified Life and Relationship Coach, Theology of the Body author and speaker, and has written fourteen books to help heal and strengthen one’s most important relationships. In full-time Catholic ministry for over thirty years, and as a wife and mother, Rose’s focus has been on the beauty and mysteries of marriage and family life. Her work is deeply rooted in the riches of Catholic principles, drawing from Scripture, the Catechism, the classic Four Temperaments, and Theology of the Body. She coaches others how to get it right—in particular, by examining all the ways we get it wrong!
In her youth, Rose found herself with the shame and sorrow of multiple divorces. Her rock bottom experiences, and subsequent healing, were the foundation upon which God built an intentional Catholic ministry to the separated, divorced, and remarried. Rose is the creator of the “Surviving Divorce” video series used in hundreds of parishes worldwide, and she is an expert (and author) on the pastoral issues of annulment and remarriage. Rose spoke on divorce healing at the 2015 World Meeting of Families, and often coaches priests in their approach to those affected by divorce. Additionally, she brings powerful insights in exposing the “red flags” in her marriage preparation weekends and coaching. Her work is deeply rooted in St. John Paul’s “Theology of the Body” and she has also been a speaker at the annual TOB Congress, the USCCB’s 2017 Convocation of Catholic Leaders, and the TOB Virtual Conference 2020.
Rose coaches people of all ages and states in life: singles, married, divorced, remarried, blended families, and couples discerning marriage. With warmth and wit, Rose uncovers the fears that stand in the way of love and encourages and equips those who seek the path to true purpose, peace, and lasting happiness. More at: rosesweet.com
JONATHAN and AMANDA TEIXEIRA
In January 2012, Jonathan and Amanda Teixeira had $25,000 in debt and a deep desire to break free. A short — and zealous — 7½ months later they wrote their last check to Sallie Mae and closed the doors on debt forever. Since kicking debt to the curb, they’ve focused on saving, investing, and giving in a way that set them up for total financial peace for a lifetime.
Upon hearing their story, a few people asked them money questions — and they answered. That snowballed into hundreds of answers, speaking at events, and providing financial coaching. They launched WalletWin in 2017 to help as many people as possible get out of debt, save money, and transform the world through generosity through their online course, membership, and podcast.
While not traveling the US in their Class A WalletWinnebago, Jonathan and Amanda live in Omaha, Nebraska with their three daughters Josie, Charlotte, Ellie, and crazy but lovable Labrador Retriever, Wrigley. Learn more at WalletWin.com
CHRISTOPHER and WENDY WEST
Since the early 90’s, author and speaker Christopher West has devoted his life to spreading John Paul II’s revolutionary teaching on human life, love, and sexuality: The Theology of the Body.
As one of its founders, Dr. West has served the TOB Institute in various capacities since 2004: as the leading faculty member, as a board member, a research fellow, and a curriculum advisor. He was appointed President of the Institute in 2018 and serves as Professor of Theological Anthropology in the jointly sponsored M.A. program with Pontifex University. His global lecturing, best-selling books, multiple audio and video programs, and popular podcast (co-hosted by his wife Wendy) have made him one of the world’s most recognized teachers of St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. Of all his titles and roles, however, he is most proud to call himself a devoted husband and father.
His beloved wife Wendy, mother of their five children, has served as his confidante, friend, and support through these long years of ministry. In their podcast, Christopher and Wendy combine their wisdom to tackle the toughest questions dealing with vocation, sexuality, marriage, and the Catholic faith.
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