Speakers & Breakout Sessions

Bishop Joseph A. Espaillat, II is the first Dominican-born auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of New York. Growing up in Manhattan, he learned to speak three languages: English, Spanish, and Street. He loves ministering the sacraments: celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, hearing confessions, and proclaiming the Word of God. He also loves working with youth and helping them encounter Christ. The founder of the ministry Messengers of Christ, Bishop Espaillat enjoys numerous sports, time with family and friends, watching movies, writing poetry, and rapping.

Bishop Vincke was born on July 9, 1964, in Saginaw, MI, the ninth of 10 children of Henry and Fidelis Vincke. He attended New Lothrop High School and Ferris State University in Big Rapids, MI, where he obtained a degree in public relations and marketing. He completed his Philosophy studies at St. Thomas More College in Crestview, KY, and his Theology studies at Athenaeum Seminary in Cincinnati, OH and Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit, MI. He was ordained to the priesthood on June 12, 1999, at St. Mary Cathedral in Lansing, MI by Bishop Carl F. Mengeling. He was parochial vicar of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Ann Arbor, MI from 1999 to 2001. He became the director at Bethany House, a retreat house for youth, from 2001 to 2004. He attended the Creighton University for Spirituality courses in the summer of 2001. He also participated in the Institute for Priestly Formation Program at Creighton University for several summers. Additionally, he became the Director of Seminarians and Vocation Director in 2003, becoming full-time in those positions and relinquishing duties at Bethany House in 2004. In June of 2018, he was named as the Bishop-elect of the Catholic Diocese of Salina. He was ordained a bishop on August 22, 2018. Archbishop Naumann of Kansas City, KS was the principal consecrator at the episcopal ordination.

Sister Amy Marie is a Marian Sister of the Diocese of Lincoln. She is originally from Dorchester, NE where she grew up on a farm with her parents and five siblings. After graduating high school, she attended UNL for one year before entering the Marians Sisters in 2010. After professing her first vows in 2013, she studied at Benedictine College in Atchison, KS where she graduated with a degree in elementary education in 2016. After finishing her education at Benedictine College, she taught 5th grade for three years before being assigned full time to vocation work in 2019. Sister is currently serving as the vocation director.

Fr. Gale Hammerschmidt was born and raised in Hays, Kansas, and graduated from Thomas More Prep/Marian High School. He then attended Kansas State University where he received a degree in secondary education. Fr. Gale spent nine years in Manhattan, KS at Msgr. Luckey Jr. High School as a history teacher and football, basketball, and track coach. From 2005-2012, Fr. Gale studied at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver, CO. In 2012, Fr. Gale was ordained a priest and is currently the pastor of St. Isidore’s Catholic Student Center at Kansas State University in Manhattan, KS. Prior to this assignment, he served as a priest in Junction City, KS, and at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Salina, KS as well as priest supervisor of Seven Dolors of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Manhattan, KS and Chaplain of Manhattan Catholic Schools. Fr. Gale has served as a high school chaplain and vocation director for the Diocese of Salina. He is also the founder of the Prayer and Action summer mission program that has now spread to numerous dioceses throughout the country.

Brad Wilcox is Professor of Sociology and Director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, the Future of Freedom Fellow at the Institute for Family Studies, and a nonresident senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. The author of Get Married: Why Americans Should Defy the Elites, Forge Strong Families and Save Civilization (HarperCollins, 2024), Wilcox studies marital quality, marital stability, and the impact of strong and stable marriages upon men, women, and children. The author and editor of six books, Wilcox has written for scientific journals such as The American Sociological Review and The Journal of Marriage and Family, as well as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, and National Review. A Connecticut native, he now lives in Charlottesville, Virginia with his wife and family.

Breakout Sessions

The Closing of the American Heart: Why young adults are steering clear of marriage and family and what we can do to revive the fortunes of the family

Marriage and fertility rates are cratering, hitting lows never seen before in America’s history. This means that a record share of today’s young adults will never marry and never have children. But the paradox is that marriage and family life matter more than ever in the 21st century. Men, women, and children in married families are much more likely to thrive socially, emotionally, and financially than their peers who don’t enjoy the safety and stability of a married family. Professor Brad Wilcox of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia will reveal what’s happening to marriage and family life, why these two institutions are losing ground, and what we can do to revive their fortunes in 21st-century America.

Mammon or Marriage? How to Maximize Happiness in Life and Love

Most people today think that education, work, and money matter most when it comes to building a meaningful and happy life. But they are wrong. Drawing on the latest in social science and ancient wisdom, University of Virginia Professor Brad Wilcox will unpack a fundamental truth: Family life matters more for happiness than the degree on your wall or the money in your bank account. In fact, nothing predicts men’s and women’s happiness more than a good marriage. Given this, Professor Wilcox concludes by revealing the five pillars of strong marriages in 21st-century America.

Father Jarett Konrade grew up in Abilene Kansas in the parish of St. Andrews. After playing football and baseball at Sterling College for 1 year, he transferred in 3 times in 3 years to Newman University, Benedictine College and Conception Seminary College. After Conception Seminary, he attended Mundelein Seminary in Illinois and was ordained to the priesthood in May of 2005. He served in the parish of St. Mary Queen of the Universe in Salina for 3 years, Vocation Director for 6 years, Wilson, Dorrance and Holyrood for 1 year, St. Isidores at K-State for 3 years, St. Nicholas of Myra in Hays for 5 years and is now pastor of 4 parishes in Beloit, Cawker City, Mankato, and Esbon.

Breakout Session

Why Eucharistic Adoration?
How God desires to break through the noise of life.

St. John the Baptist parish in Beloit, KS commenced Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration in June of this year. St. John’s pastor Fr. Jarett Konrade will speak about the reasons, the fruits, and the “how-to’s” of expanding Eucharistic Adoration in your parish.

Braden grew up in Kansas playing competitive basketball, doing semi-professional singing, and making content with famous social media influencers. During his freshman year of college, he had a big conversion as he discovered that the fulfillment he longed for could only be found in Christ. His passion is now to help others discover the abundant life that Jesus offers. He lived out this passion working in college campus ministry, and now through full-time speaking at conferences, schools, and parishes around the country. Many of the events that he gets to speak at also feature other Catholic evangelists such as Dr. Scott Hahn, Fr. Augustino Torres, Dr. Ray Guarendi, Mari Pablo, etc

Breakout Sessions

Understanding The Hearts Of Young People

This parent presentation focuses on how we can be inspiring young people to grow in virtue and faith, even while we live in a culture where many people are falling away from the life that we are called to in Christ. The presentation begins by drawing each person into the call that we have to help young people discover where true life, fulfillment, and joy can be found. Using this Catholic understanding of mission, we address how we can be inspiring young people towards virtue in specific areas such as chastity, relationships, social media, and growing in their Catholic faith.

Fulfillment In Christ

The purpose of this talk is to help the young people discover the abundant life that can only be found in Christ. So often young people seek fulfillment in areas that just lead to more disappointment, woundedness, and discouragement, not really knowing that more is possible. Jesus calls us to a life and in Him there is a fulfillment that goes beyond what this world is able to give us.

Dr. Andrew and Sarah Swafford found Jesus Christ in a powerful way in college and have devoted their lives to sharing the joy of his truth ever since. They speak frequently across the country (and in Europe, Australia, and the Philippines) on dating, marriage, the moral and spiritual life, St. John Paul II, and Sacred Scripture. Together, they are the authors of Gift and Grit: How Heroic Virtue Can Change Your Life and Relationships and cohosts of Ascension’s What We Believe: The Beauty of the Catholic Faith, filmed in Rome.

Breakout Session

Looking from the Outside in

As a parent, teacher, coach, priest, religious, or anyone close to a young woman or man transitioning through stages of life, it can be tough to watch your loved ones go through this challenging time. Is there a game plan for these years? How can someone help and not just stand by? In this talk, Sarah offers an understanding of Emotional Virtue, a map for navigating relationships, and a closer look at how to build up interior confidence. Being that person your loved one turns to—and does not run from—starts now.

Christopher Carstens is director of the Office for Sacred Worship in the Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin; a visiting faculty member at the Liturgical Institute at the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, Illinois; editor of the Adoremus Bulletin; and one of the voices on the Becoming God podcast. He is author of A Devotional Journey into the Mass and A Devotional Journey into the Easter Mystery (Sophia), as well as Principles of Sacred Liturgy: Forming a Sacramental Vision (Hillenbrand Books). He and his family live in Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin.

Breakout Session

Getting More out of Mass—And Teaching Others To Do So

Many desire to encounter Christ but do not know how or where to find him. Certainly, he is present in the beauty of the world, the charity of his people, and in the longings of our hearts. But he is present in a most privileged way in the celebration of the Eucharist. But here, too, we need to learn how to recognize him. This presentation will consider how we can hear his voice in the Mass’s scriptural readings, how we should join our hearts to his own during the offertory and Eucharist Prayer, and how we must respond to his dismissal to “Go!” into the world and sanctify it. In short: how to pray the Mass like a saint.

Sr. Serena Deters is a Marian Sister of the Diocese of Lincoln. The youngest of 9, she was raised on a farm in Harveyville, KS and learned that she had to act quickly if she wanted to enjoy any of her mom’s homemade cinnamon rolls! She attended Benedictine College on a volleyball scholarship and studied Mass Communications. Sister was hoping to be a photographer, but the Lord had other plans. She heard the Lord’s invitation to follow Him after hearing a priest’s homily and met the Marian Sisters who were also attending Benedictine College. Sr. Serena professed final vows in 2010 and is currently serving her community as the formation directress for the sisters in temporary vows.

Breakout Session

Intimacy is not embarrassing

Pope St. John Paul II, said, “We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures, we are the sum of the Father’s love for us…”. Wouldn’t it be great if we could live out of that love? All too often we shy away from a more intimate relationship with Jesus because we don’t believe we are good enough or because we don’t know how to enter into this type of relationship. The more we know our true identity as sons and daughters, the more we operate from a place of being loved instead of a place of trying to earn His love.

Megan Robl has served as Executive Director of Catholic Charities of Northern Kansas since August 2020. Catholic Charities annually serves 8,000 people across all 31 counties in the Diocese of Salina, providing essential services such as financial and housing assistance, personal care, pregnancy and adoption support, counseling, and thrift store operations. The organization operates from offices in Salina, Manhattan, and Hays, and reaches 26 rural communities monthly through its outreach program. A native of Salina, Megan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications with minors in Business and Dance from Kansas State University, is a 2018 graduate of Leadership Salina, and earned a nonprofit executive management certificate from the University of San Diego. In her spare time, she enjoys teaching dance, supporting K-State football, and spending time with family, friends, and her dog, Hershey. Megan is passionate about supporting those in need throughout the diocese and contributing to the meaningful work of Catholic Charities alongside an amazing team of dedicated staff and volunteers.

Breakout Session

The Eucharist and Our Call to Serve: Uniting with the Poor in Northern Kansas

The Eucharist calls us to serve the poor and marginalized in our communities. In this session, we will explore how our liturgical practice calls us to be missionary disciples, going forth from the Eucharistic meal to accompany those in need. Learn about the vital work Catholic Charities of Northern Kansas is doing across our 31-county diocese to support families in poverty, pregnant mothers, and individuals with mental health challenges. Discover practical ways to get involved, and hear real-life stories of transformation and hope. This session will provide practical examples, resources, and tools to help our Eucharistic communities live out our faith through action and compassion, embodying the love of Christ. Whether you are seeking to deepen your faith, find meaningful ways to serve, or simply learn more about the work being done in our diocese, this talk will offer valuable insights and actionable steps.