Fr. John Culkin said that we shape our tools and, thereafter, our tools shape us. The Church Communications Ecology Program (CCEP) at the McGrath Institute for Church Life provides a learning community for parish leaders to develop a deeper understanding of the social and psychological effects that digital tools are having on individuals and communities. For parishes to thrive in the digital environment, leaders must be able to promote virtues and practices that lead to true communion.
The CCEP empowers Church leaders to deepen their awareness of technology’s effects and to lead by example. Not limited to communications professionals, the CCEP works with pastors, lay ministers, and educators who are called to respond to the myriad pastoral challenges raised by life in the digital age. The CCEP is funded by a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment.
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Fr. Jose Arroyo
José Emmanuel Arroyo Acevedo, originally from Puerto Rico, grew up in a Navy family and was able to experience life in many different locales Since childhood, he has competed in various sports as well as folkloric and contemporary dancing, and stilt-walking at parades and carnivals! Upon graduation from high school and his Confirmation by the Franciscan Archbishop Robert González, he decided to enter the Franciscans, where he lived experiences that would impact him for the rest of his life, especially giving himself over to intense prayer, fraternal life in community, evangelization, and service to the poor and underserved. Father José studied philosophy at the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico followed by theology at St. Joseph Seminary in New York, where he obtained three more degrees. After his graduation last year, he was ordained a transitional deacon in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and sent to St. Joseph Church and School in Fort Wayne. He was ordained a priest at the same cathedral on June 1, 2019. Fr. José is not afraid of any adventures and hopes to serve the Lord and His Kingdom as a priest of Jesus Christ. Now he is… a priest forever!
Andrew Auletta is knee-deep in his sixth year of seminary formation, studying to be a priest for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. God willing, he will be ordained a priest in 2022. Prior to entering seminary, he graduated from Penn State University in 2015 with a Bachelor’s degree in history, intending to pursue a career as an archaeologist in the Middle East. Although he continues to see firsthand the immense importance of understanding history in his seminary studies, especially the courses in Church history, he believes it is just as important, if not more so, to understand the trajectory of the Church’s future. Given the rapid technological advancements in the area of communications, the Church has been given a new and unique opportunity to continue her mission of communicating the Gospel message to all people. Andrew is honored to be a part of a team that will be dedicated to understanding the meta-implications of this cultural shift, as well as creatively exploring practical ways the Church can respond to this new frontier.
Jared Bryson is a Catholic executive and Organizational Coach at Firebrand+. He also serves as the System Vice President for Mission and Church Relations for Mercy health system based in St. Louis, Missouri, personally connecting Mercy, its sponsors, and the 12 (Arch) Dioceses that Mercy serves. He is a past chair of the Missouri Catholic Conference, the public policy committee of the Catholic Bishops of Missouri, and is a founding board member of the St. Louis Catholic Leadership Collaborative. Jared and his wife Emily and their three children, Augustine, Lillian and William, are parishioners at St. Simon the Apostle Catholic Church, where he serves on Parish Council. Dr. Bryson holds a Bachelor's degree in Organizational Leadership from Greenville College, a Master of Divinity from the Aquinas Institute of Theology, and a Doctorate in Christian Spirituality from the Washington Theological Union.
Michelle Fontana serves as the Director of Marketing and Development for the Holy Cross parish of St. Ignatius Martyr Catholic Church and School in Austin, Texas. Michelle has a passion for evangelizing the Catholic Faith through communications to the parish, school and greater Austin Catholic community. Michelle graduated from Texas State University with a degree in Political Science and went on to work at the state capital before dedicating herself to her family full time. Since joining St. Ignatius Martyr, Michelle has established new websites for the parish and school, set up new online newsletters and a giving platform, and has taken the helm of various social media accounts. Michelle and her husband Julian have three adult children, Blaine, Sophia and Avery, and though they love their children dearly they’ve delighted in being empty nesters for a few months!
Isaac Garcia serves as the Director of Adult Evangelization and Catechesis at St. Ignatius Martyr Catholic Church, a Holy Cross parish in Austin, Texas. Inspired by involvement in his youth group growing up, he went on to study theology at the University of Notre Dame as an undergraduate and graduate student (through McGrath Institute's Echo program), making him a “Double Domer.” After three years at his first church ministry position helping prepare children for sacraments, Isaac took a seven-year hiatus from parish ministry to explore his other passion: online communication. That led him to the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, where he served a variety of roles on the communications team. Prior to working at St. Ignatius, Isaac ran a small consultancy focused on creating and implementing sound online communications and marketing strategy. He began working at St. Ignatius in the summer of 2020, amid the Covid-19 pandemic, with the hope to use all that he’s learned in his past jobs to help St. Ignatius and South Austin more fully encounter Jesus Christ. Isaac lives in Austin with his wife, two daughters, and a cat named after the Star Trek character "Q."
John Grosso currently serves as the Director of Digital Media for the Diocese of Bridgeport, where he is responsible for social and digital media strategy. John serves on the Bishop’s Cabinet, a leadership body composed of senior staff that facilitate Diocesean operations. John was the World Youth Day Coordinator in 2016, charged with organizing, forming, and leading a group of 240 people to Poland for ten days. John was hired as the Social Media Leader for the Diocese by Bishop Frank Caggiano in January of 2015. Already an experienced communications professional with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Boston College, John completed his Masters Degree in Corporate Communications and Public Relations at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield. John and his wife Nicole are happy newlyweds and new homeowners.
Lesley Kirzeder is the wife of a Catholic school principal, mother of three one-of-a-kind kiddos, and a freelance graphic designer and communications consultant who has worked with Catholic parishes, schools, and organizations locally and abroad. Lesley is a 2003 graduate of the University of Notre Dame, having earned her BA in History with an honors concentration in Russian History. Presently, she is working toward her MA in Theology at Notre Dame. The Kirzeder family spins their plates in South Bend, Indiana where they belong to St. Anthony de Padua Catholic Parish and School.
Matthew Kuna is a seminarian for the Diocese of Allentown, Pennsylvania. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in 2016 from Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, where he studied Secondary Education, Spanish Language, and Teaching English as a Second Language. As an undergraduate student, he served on the Saint Christopher Catholic Newman Council and began to seriously discern a priestly vocation. He is now in Third Theology at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia, studying to be a priest for the diocese he calls home.
Katie Pesha is a wife and a mother to four children, ranging in ages from ten to two. As a strategic marketing and communications consultant, Katie founded KP Consulting Group in 2016 and today oversees a robust network of experts who provide integrated marketing solutions to Catholic organizations across the country. Katie is also the co-founder of Firebrand+, a Catholic ministry aiming to move people from maintenance to mission by bridging ministry gaps. Katie is also the former Executive Director of Communications and Planning for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. Prior to her transition to ministry for the Church, Katie was the National Director of Higher Education Programs at USA TODAY. In 2021, she will begin her term serving on the Board of Directors for the Association of the Miraculous Medal. She is also an adjunct business instructor at St. Charles Community College, holding an MBA from Webster University and a BS in Business Management from Quincy University.
Teresa Peterson has served as Executive Director of Communications for the Diocese of St. Petersburg since 2017. Prior to that, she served in a similar capacity for the Diocese of Orlando for a decade. In her ministry, she oversees website, social media, broadcast and electronic communications for the Diocese, and assists parishes in enhancing and expanding their communication and evangelization efforts. She has helped develop and launch diocesan initiatives such as Courageously Living the Gospel, Teaching and Living the Light of Christ, the Family Faith Fest and the Festival of Faith. Previously, she worked in broadcasting as a promotions and news producer, and received an Emmy Award in 1989 for a series of public service announcements entitled “Notebook News.” Teresa feels blessed beyond measure to be able to serve Christ, the Church and the community. Her favorite Scripture quote is a constant source of strength and inspiration: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Vincent J. Reilly is the Director of Faith Formation at St. Catherine Catholic Church in Orange Park, FL and an instructor in the Ministry Formation Program for the Diocese of St. Augustine. He has a MA in Theology from the University of Notre Dame and a BA in Theology and Religious Studies from the Catholic University of America. He has been married for 13 years and lives in Orange Park.
Fr. Francisco Quiroz
Reverend Francisco Miguel Quiroz Carrizales was born and raised in México and has been involved in the church since his childhood. He began his priestly journey in August 1999 in the Seminario de Monterrey, Nuevo León, México. He completed his College and Philosophy studies in the seminary. In 2009, Father Quiroz obtained the Pontifical degree in Philosophy at the Universidad Pontificia de México, Mexico City. He finished his priesthood formation at Assumption Seminary in San Antonio, Texas, in 2014. Fr. Francisco completed the double major in Theology, Master of Arts in Theology, and Master of Divinity at Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas. He earned the Baccalaureate Degree in Sacred Theology offered by Saint Paul University in Ottawa, Canada, in the same year. Father Quiroz was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Laredo on June 21, 2014. Currently, Father Quiroz is in the third year of his Doctorate in Ministry in concentration on Seminary Formation at The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. Last September 16, 2020, Father Quiroz was appointed as the Chancellor and the Moderator of the Curia for the Diocese of Laredo, retaining his current pastoral and diocesan responsibilities.