Dr. Leonora Butau is an Associate Fellow at the St. John Paul II Foundation. Leonora moved to Houston from England, where she taught Christian Ethics and Christian Spirituality at St. Mary’s University, London, for eight years, and where she led efforts to empower Catholic couples, educators and young adults in St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. While in London, she also worked for Caritas Social Action Network, the charitable agency of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. She earned a B.A. in Theology and Religious Studies and an M.A. in Bioethics and Medical Law from St. Mary’s University, London, and has a Ph.D. in Bioethics from the University of Surrey, (England). Leonora is blessed to be married to Rufaro and to enjoy the gift of their two sons, Jesse and Louis.
Bishop David A. Konderla is the second of twelve children, son of the late David and Ann Konderla. He grew up in Bryan, Texas; graduated from Bryan High School in 1978; and worked for several years as a machinist before entering the seminary in 1985.
After graduating from the University of Dallas in 1989 with a bachelor’s degree in history, he earned his Master of Divinity from the University of St. Thomas and St. Mary’s Seminary, and was ordained on June 3, 1995.
Bishop Konderla served at St. Louis Parish in Austin and St. Luke’s Parish in Temple before his assignment as associate pastor of St. Mary’s Catholic Center in College Station. After almost four years with the Aggies, he was named as Vocation Director for the Diocese of Austin, where he served the diocese for four years. He then returned to St. Mary’s as pastor and Director of Campus Ministry in August 2005.
Bishop Konderla was appointed the fourth Bishop of Tulsa on May 13, 2016 by Pope Francis. He was ordained and installed as Bishop of the Diocese of Tulsa on June 29, 2016.
- Fr. Joseph Illo was born in the Bronx, New York, in 1961. He received a B.A. in English Literature from the Pennsylvania State University in 1983, worked at Ignatius Press in San Francisco and then studied at Blackfriars Studium, Oxford (England) before completing a philosophy degree at the Dominican University of St. Thomas (“the Angelicum”) in Rome. He received an M.A. in theology from St. Joseph’s Seminary in New York and was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Stockton, CA, in 1991.
- He has served in four parishes, one term as vocations director, and two years as chaplain at Thomas Aquinas College in Southern California. He is currently pastor at Star of the Sea parish in San Francisco. He has worked with Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity for fifteen years, giving retreats and seminars to them around the world. He belongs to two priestly fraternities, the St. John Fisher Society, and the Corpus Christi Movement for Priests of Mother Teresa, of which he serves as North American Counselor.
- Fr. Illo enjoys all outdoor sports, especially backpacking, skiing, cycling, kayaking, and snow camping. He especially treasures his brother priests, and all the good people from the assignments in which he has served.
- Married for 33 years, John and Claire have 5 children and 3 grandchildren. They have done pre-Cana marriage ministry together for over 20 years, post-Cana ministry for 8 years, and served as a member couple from the United States on the Pontifical Council for the family since their appointment by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009. Together they are the authors of the commentary on the anniversary edition of Familiaris consortio (Boston: Pauline, 2015), and One Body: A Program of Marriage Formation for the New Evangelization. (Steubenville, OH: Emmaus Road Press, 2018). They have spoken together to groups of laity, priests, and bishops across the United States. They are regular guests on Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak’s “More to Life” show on EWTN radio.
- Claire has been a Catholic educator, stay at home mother, in-home childcare provider, financial administrative assistant, and care-giver and companion to the elderly. She has been a mentor to women and couples and has been active in a variety of lay ministries for many years.
- 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 expert (adiutor) at the Synod of Bishops on the Family. His books include Sex and Virtue: An Introduction to Sexual Ethics (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2003) and Transformed in Christ: Essays on the Renewal of Moral Theology (Naples, FL: Sapientia Press, 2017). He also wrote the Foreword to the 1997 English edition of Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body (Pauline, 1997).
Originally from Chicago, Annamarie Omanga has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education. She began her career in the middle school classroom and then spent 6 years directing a tutor/mentor program for inner city youth in Chicago. Annamarie then took her teaching skills to the business arena, where she started in training and development and then enjoyed a career in Human Resources with Cap Gemini America and AIG. Annamarie has been married to Billy Omanga for fourteen years and is at home full time raising two daughters and two sons. The Omangas are parishioners at St. John Vianney Parish in Houston.
Matthew David Watson is the Upper School Head at Aristoi Classical Academy, a K-12 charter school in Katy, TX. He received his B.A. in History from George Fox University, summa cum laude. Mr. Watson has worked in private and public K-12 education since 2003, along the way earning an M.A. in Early American History from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and an Ed.M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He and his wife, Jenny, have five children and are parishioners at Saint Bartholomew the Apostle Catholic Church in Katy, where they serve in the marriage preparation ministry.
Pat has been married for 7 years and has three children; he works in financial services. His home parish is St. Bartholomew in Katy. Pat and his wife, Joanna, are self-proclaimed marriage enthusiasts. They were speakers for the Chicago Archdiocesan marriage preparatory program, they have been featured at Theology on Tap, and they remain involved in marriage prep ministry.
Veronica Vallone is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist-Associate currently working in research with MD Anderson, focusing on healthy lifestyle change and neuromodualtion. She and her husband, Mark (a youth minister at St. Anthony of Padua) met while earning their undergraduate degrees at Franciscan University of Steubenville. They have a beautiful and rambunctious 5-year-old daughter.
Gabriela Karaszewski, M.S., M.A. is currently the Director of the Office of Young Adults & Campus Ministry at the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. Obtained a M.A. in Pastoral Studies from University of St. Thomas and Master of Science from University of Washington. Serves as member of the National Advisory Team for Young Adult Ministry for the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth at the USCCB. Previously was the Director of Faith Formation for 10 years at a parish in Texas. Originally from Mexico, married to a Polish man and they have two daughters.
Dr. Chris Stravitsch is Co-founder of the St. John Paul II Foundation and Chairman of the Board. He has a passion for creating new ministries that meet today’s most pressing needs, especially the pastoral needs of couples and families. Dr. Stravitsch earned a Doctor of Ministry from The Catholic University of America, Washington DC, where he focused his research on the spiritual formation of spouses and families. He earned a dual degree in Pastoral Counseling from St. Mary’s University, San Antonio, Texas, which consisted of an M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy and M.A. in Pastoral Ministry, and he earned a B.A. in Psychology from Texas A&M University. Dr. Stravitsch is the President and Founder of Rejoice Counseling Apostolate, an apostolate which serves parishes by providing onsite Catholic counseling services. He is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Dr. Stravitsch and his wife, Sarah, reside in Katy, Texas, with their five children.