The Catholic Family Life Symposium will explore four critical questions about Catholic family life. Exploring these questions will be the following diverse group of Catholic theologians, prominent social-scientists, and leading pastoral ministry professionals.

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Greg & Lisa Popcak

Pastoral Solutions Institute, Holy Apostles College, authors of many books on parenting & fam spirituality. Symposium organizers.

Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak are the directors of the Pastoral Solutions Institute, a prominent Catholic tele-counseling practice serving clients around the world.  The authors of over 20 books on Catholic spirituality, marriage, family life and parenting.  They are the hosts of More2Life, a call-in program airing weekdays on EWTN Radio and SiriusXM130.  Dr. Popcak is also an associate professor of pastoral studies and the director of the Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies program at Holy Apostles College in Cromwell, CT.

Theology/Pastoral Ministry


Joe Atkinson

Associate Professor of Sacred Scripture, John Paul II Institute at CUA

Assoc. Prof. Sacred Scripture.  Specialization:  Biblical foundations of the family. He is a primary authority on the concept of the Domestic Church, which explores the ecclesial structure and meaning of the family. 


Mike Aquilina

St. Paul Center, patristics and the family

Mike Aquilina is author of more than fifty books on Catholic history, doctrine, and devotion. He is executive vice-president of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology.


Julia Dezelski, S.T.D.

Assistant Director of Marriage & Family Life, Laity in the Secretariat for Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth.

Dr. Julia Dezeski serves as Assistant Director of Marriage & Family Life, Laity in the Secretariat for Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth.

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John and Claire Grabowski

Catholic University of America, Past Members—Pontifical Council Family

John has taught moral theology at The Catholic University of America for the last 26 years.   He has three times been appointed as a theological consultant to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.  In 2015 he was appointed by Pope Francis to serve as an auditor at the Synod of Bishops on the Family.  His books include, A Catechism of Family Life.

Claire has been a Catholic educator and has been active in a variety of lay ministries for many years. Together they have been active in marriage ministry for over 25 years, served as a member couple on Pontifical Council for the Family, and are the authors of several books on marriage and family life. They have 5 children and several grandchildren.

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Fr. Jomon Kalladanthiyil, C.S.C

Director Pastoral Care, Oratory of St Joseph.  Christian spirituality in interfaith households.

Specialization in Christian spirituality in interfaith households.


Bill Keimig

Franciscan University of Steubenville, Asst. Director: Catechetical Institute

Dr. Bill Keimig is the Assistant Director of the Catechetical Institute at Franciscan University. For 15 years, he served as the Director of Religious Education at St. Mary’s of Piscataway Parish in Clinton, Maryland.. He served for nine years as the Director of the Association for Catechumenal Ministry (ACM).  He is the father of six.


Dominic Lombardi

Executive USCCB Secretariat For Laity, Marriage, Family, & Youth

Dominic Lombardi, STL, serves the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops as the Executive Director of the Secretariat for Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth.  Prior to coming to the Conference in 2018 he served the Diocese of Harrisburg as Secretary for Catholic Life and Evangelization, and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia as the Director of Family Life.  Dominic also has taught Theology for over two decades at Saint Joseph's University, Philadelphia, PA. He and his wife Melanie are the blessed parents of six children.

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Andrew and Terri Lyke

Arusi Network/African American Catholic marriage ministry

Andrew and Terri Lyke are authors of Marriage On A Lampstand: Exploring a New Paradigm for Modern Christian Marriage, published by Visual Dynamics Publishing. They are the founders of Arusi Network, Inc., an organization that educates African Americans on the skills and benefits of Christian marriage. Together they served as advisors to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Marriage and Family. Andrew is the former Director of the Office for Black Catholics in the Archdiocese of Chicago. As the Coordinator of Marriage Ministry for the Archdiocese, a role he served from 1999 to 2009, he was the principle author of In the Spirit of Cana, the Marriage Ministry Guidelines for the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Andrew and Terri were the 1995 recipients of the Augustus Tolton Archdiocesan Award, the 2005 Bishop Quarter Award for the Archdiocese of Chicago, the 2012 Paluch Family Foundation Award, 2016 Cardinal Bernardin Common Ground Award from the Association of Chicago Priests, and the 2017 Legacy Award from the Sister Thea Bowman Foundation. They are the parents of two married young adults and the grandparents of four granddaughters. They are parishioners at Sacred Heart Church in Joliet, Illinois.

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Tim and Sue Muldoon

Boston College. Authors of many books on family spirituality

Tim Muldoon (Ph.D., Catholic Systematic Theology, Duquesne) is a pastoral theologian, author, and professor. He is co-editor, with Cynthia Dobrzynski, of the award-winning Love One Another: Catholic Reflections on Sustaining Marriage (Crossroad, 2010), and the co-author, with Sue Muldoon, of three books on the spirituality of family life: Six Sacred Rules for Families (Ave Maria, 2013), The Discerning Parent (Ave Maria, 2017) and Reclaiming Family Time (The Word Among Us, 2017). He is a contributor to the video series Joined by Grace as well as Together for Life, both from Ave Maria Press. He serves as the Director of Mission Education at Catholic Extension.

Sue Muldoon (M.A., Counseling, Franciscan University) is a therapist and religious educator with many years of experience in clinical, academic, and pastoral settings. She is the co-author, with Tim Muldoon, of three books on the spirituality of family life: Six Sacred Rules for Families (Ave Maria, 2013), The Discerning Parent (Ave Maria, 2017) and Reclaiming Family Time (The Word Among Us, 2017). She is also a contributor to the video series Joined by Grace (Ave Maria Press). She is the Director of Family Ministries at Good Shepherd Parish in Wayland, Massachusetts.


Tim O’Malley

University of Notre Dame, McGrath Institute for Church Life. Symposium Host

As director of the Notre Dame Center for Liturgy, he engages in scholarship that seeks to retrieve biblical, catechetical, and liturgical insights that facilitates a renewal of the Church’s liturgical imagination.  He is also founding editor of the Institute for Church Life’s journal, Church Life:  A Journal for the New Evangelization. 


Hosffman Ospino

Boston College, Theology & Education/Hispanic Ministry

Hosffman Ospino, PhD is an Associate Professor of Theology and Religious Education at Boston College, School of Theology and Ministry where he is also Director of Graduate Programs in Hispanic Ministry. Dr. Ospino was the principal investigator for the National Study of Catholic Parishes with Hispanic Ministry (2014) and co-investigator for the National Survey of Catholic Schools Serving Hispanic Families (2015). He is currently advancing a national study on Latino Catholic vocations. He has authored/edited 13 books and dozens of essays. Dr. Ospino serves on the boards of several academic and professional organizations. He is a national consultant on questions related to catechesis, Catholic education, and ministry with Hispanic Catholics.

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Damon & Melanie Owens Former Director: Theology of the Body Institute

Married  25  years,  Damon  and  Melanie  Owens  are  founders  of  JoyTOB ( and  Joy  to  Be  Family.  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.    

Melanie earned her MSW from UC Berkley. In 2018, Pope Francis awarded the Benemerenti Medal to Damon for his service to the Church in support of marriage and family.


Julie Rubio

University of Santa Clara, Family ethics

Julie Rubio is Professor of Social Ethics at Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, California.  She writes and lectures nationally about Catholic social thought as it relates to sex, gender, marriage, and family. She is the author of four books, including  Family Ethics: Practices for Christians (Georgetown University Press, 2010), and Hope for Common Ground (Georgetown University Press, 2016). Her essays have appeared in academic journals such as Theological Studies, the Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics, and the Journal of Political Theology, as well as America, the Washington Post, and Her current project is titled: Gender, Catholicism, and the Family.


Petroc Willey

Franciscan University of Steubenville.  Director: Catechetical Institute

Dr. Petroc Willey is the Director of Catechetics and the Director of the Catechetical Institute at Franciscan University. He studied theology at King's College, London and Maynooth in Ireland and philosophy at Liverpool University in England and the Lateran University in Rome. He holds two doctorates and a licentiate. From 1985-1992, he was Lecturer in Christian Ethics at Plater College, Oxford. From 1992-2013 he worked at Maryvale Institute, Birmingham, as Dean of Graduate Research overseeing a doctoral program in Catholic Studies at the Maryvale Institute. He is a consultor for the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization. His publications include Become What You Are: The Call and Gift of Marriage, and The Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Craft of Catechesis (coauthored with Barbara Morgan and Fr. Pierre de Cointet). He has written and edited numerous distance-learning course texts, and six volumes of commentary on the new Catechism. He was the Host of the EWTN series Handing on the Faith. For many years he has been a keynote speaker at the St. John Bosco Conference for Catechists and Religious Educators held at Franciscan University annually each July. He and his wife Katherine live in Steubenville, and have four children.

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Mike Day

Mike Day is the president-elect of the National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers. He is the director of the Office of Family Life for the Diocese of St. Augustine, having served in marriage and family life ministry for 12 years with the diocese.


Tim & Lara Kirk

Catholic Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn

Tim & Lara Kirk have 5 children aged 24 to 16 years and live outside of Canberra, the national capital of Australia. Together they have directed their pastoral energy over 3 decades into evangelization and Church renewal. Lara works for the Archbishop of Canberra Goulburn managing the Marriage, Family, Relationships office. Her team run marriage preparation programs, natural fertility services, puberty presentations for parents and children, healthy relationships programs in high schools, Catholic teacher professional learning and, increasingly parent, formation programs.

Tim sits on the Senate of the Australian Catholic University which serves 35, 000 students across 8 campuses including a campus in Rome. Tim’s training is in Theology and he formerly taught New Testament at a Jesuit secondary college. He has just completed 6 years as the International Leader of the Disciples of Jesus Catholic Covenant Community and has recently taken up leadership of the local branch of which he and Lara have been members for over 30 years. He is the CEO and Chief Winemaker at Clonakilla Winery and has twice been named Australia’s Winemaker of the Year.

Social Science


Helen Alvaré

George Mason Univ., Family Law, Pontifical Council Laity, UN (Holy See)

Helen Alvaré is Professor of Law at Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University, where she teaches Family Law, Law and Religion, and Property Law. She publishes on matters concerning marriage, parenting, non-marital households, and the First Amendment religion clauses. She is faculty advisor to the law school’s Civil Rights Law Journal, and the Latino/a Law Student Association. She has been a consultor for the Pontifical Council of the Laity and continues to advise  the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. She cooperates with the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations. Her most recent book is Putting Children's Interests First in US Family Law: With Power Comes Responsibility (Cambridge 2017).


Justin Bartkus

Illinois Institute Of Technology, sociology of faith transmission

A graduate learner at the Illinois Institute of Technology.  He was the lead author with University of Notre Dame sociologist, Christian Smith, of Parental Cultures and Practices of Intergenerational Transmission of Religious Faith.


Vern Bengtson

University of Southern California, sociology of faith transmission  

Vern L. Bengtson is Research Professor in the Roybal Institute on Aging at the University of Southern Suzanne Dworak-Peck California’s School of Social Work and AARP/University Professor of Gerontology Emeritus.  A Past President of the Gerontological Society of America, he has published 19 books and 260 research articles on aging, families, and intergenerational relationships. His most recent book, Families and Faith:  How Religion Is Passed Down across Generations (with Norella Putney and Susan C. Harris), recently received book-of-the-year awards from the Gerontological Society of America and the American Sociological Association’s Section on Religion, as well as having been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, USA Today, and on National Public Radio.


Pat Fagan

Catholic University, Marriage and Religion Research Institute

Dr. Pat Fagan has been a grade school and college teacher, a therapist specializing in child, family and marital issues, executive director of a small think tank, a Senate staffer, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Family and Social Policy at HHS under President George Herbert Bush, a Senior Fellow of Family and Culture at the Heritage Foundation, and founder and Director of the Marriage and Religion Research Initiative ( ) first at Family Research Council, now at The Catholic University of America.  The thread of continuity has been a pursuit of ways to help the family thrive.  He is publisher and editor of, and the weekly Faith and Family Findings, and has authored over thirty synthesis papers and has commissioned from others dozens of original research projects in marriage, family, child development and religious practice.  His work has appeared in or covered by Time Magazine, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, The Globe and Mail, USA Today, and The Guardian. He and his wife Theresa have eight children and thirteen grandchildren.


Mark Gray

Georgetown, Director: Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate

Mark M. Gray is the Director of CARA Catholic Polls (CCP) and a Senior Research Associate at CARA. He has a Ph.D. in Political Science and a M.A. in Social Sciences from the University of California, Irvine.


Darcia Narvaez

University of Notre Dame, moral development. Winner:William James Award for contributions to the psychology of religion (APA).

Darcia Narvaez is Professor of Psychology at the University of Notre Dame who focuses on moral development and flourishing from an interdisciplinary perspective. Dr. Narvaez’s current research explores how early life experience influences societal culture and moral character in children and adults. She integrates neurobiological, clinical, developmental and education sciences in her theories and research about moral development. She publishes extensively on moral development, parenting and education. She is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and the American Educational Research Association. She writes a popular blog for Psychology Today (“Moral Landscapes”). One of her recent books, Neurobiology and the Development of Human Morality: Evolution, Culture and Wisdom won the 2015 William James Book Award from the American Psychological Association and the 2017 Expanded Reason Award.


Joseph White

Family psychologist, Nat’l Catechetical Consultant to Our Sunday Visitor.

Dr. Joseph White received a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. He later studied Catholic Theology at St. Mary's University in San Antonio. Dr. White served as a parish Director of Faith Formation for two years, and then worked for seven years as Director of Family Counseling and Family Life for the Diocese of Austin, Texas. He now works as a National Catechetical Consultant for Our Sunday Visitor Publishing and Curriculum and is in part-time practice as a child and family psychologist. Dr. White has written ten books and numerous articles about catechesis, family life, and ministry. He is co-author of the Allelu and Alive in Christ religion series. 


Dr. Carolyn Y. Woo, Ph.D.

Dr. Carolyn Woo served as the President and Chief Executive Officer at Catholic Relief Services (CRS) from 2012 to 2016. Dr. Woo joined CRS in January 2012 after a distinguished academic career. From July 1997 to December 2011, she served as Dean at Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame. Prior to the University of Notre Dame, she served as Associate Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at Purdue University. Her teaching, research and administrative leadership have been recognized through Best Paper Awards by the Academy of Management, selection as one of Forty Young Leaders of American Academe by Change Magazine (the journal of the American Association for Higher Education), distinguished alumna and honorary alumna by Purdue University and University of Notre Dame, as well as by the conferral of honorary doctorates from Providence College, University of St. Francis, Lewis University, as well as the University of Notre Dame. She serves as a director on several corporate and non-profit boards.


Dr. Barbara Fiese

Barbara H. Fiese, PhD, is a clinical and developmental psychologist whose research focuses on family factors that promote health and wellbeing in children. She holds the Pampered Chef, Ltd., Endowed Chair in Family Resiliency and is Professor and Director of the Family Resiliency Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with affiliated appointments in the Departments of Pediatrics and Psychology. She is considered one of the national experts in the role that shared family mealtimes may play in promoting health. She is past-president of the society of Family Psychology, editor of the Journal of Family Psychology, and inaugural editor of Advances in Child and Family Policy and Practice. Although Dr. Fiese is not able to attend the Symposium, she contributed a n extensive video interview on the importance of family rituals for family cohesion and the intergenerational transmission of faith and values.