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FireSide Chats

There is always something quite compelling about ending a day's journey by gathering as pilgrims and enjoying time together, sharing a meal and conversation. Our Fireside Chats are designed to help foster that continued conversation and perhaps enhance the next day's thoughts as you continue your Camion.  We have invited several guest speakers to come and share parts of their faith journey with us. These talks will be over dinner or early evening. The format is casual with the goal of providing the Pilgrims with a bit of an inspirational bedtime story. Below is the current list of speakers/friends of the Camino and the date they will be joining us.

Kevin Wells

Saturday, June 15, 2024 Sacred Heart Church

Kevin is an acclaimed Catholic speaker and former award-winning sports reporter with the Tampa Tribune, where he covered Major League Baseball and other sports. He is the best-selling author of two books, including The Priests We Need to Save the Church, a written plea for holy priests to live like the paragons, martyrs, and great saints before them. His book was quickly disseminated in bulk to seminarians throughout the world.

Kevin is an active evangelist who has spoken on a national Catholic stage including the Legatus Summit, Napa Institute, That Man is You, on EWTN, the TASTE program, as well as hundreds of other men’s and women’s conferences, retreats and events, radio programs and podcasts. Kevin speaks on the urgent need for heroic lives of virtue and untamed Catholicism in the public square, in addition to many other Catholic topics. His articles have appeared at Crisis Magazine, Catholic Exchange, LifeSiteNews, The National Catholic Register, One Peter Five, and Homiletic and Pastoral Review. 

Inspired by the startling life of American Venerable Aloysius Schwartz, Kevin traveled to Mexico and spent a month with The Sisters of Mary, a religious community founded by Venerable Schwartz. Wells was so moved by the stories of “Fr. Al” and witnessing firsthand the sisters’ round-the-clock work to nourish, catechize and care for 20,000-plus bullied teens, he penned the acclaimed best-selling biography: Priest and Beggar: The Heroic Life of Venerable Aloysius Schwartz, published in 2021 by Ignatius Press.  

Wells served as a “content expert” for the EWTN series “They Might Be Saints,” featuring Fr. Al Schwartz, in collaboration with Michael O’Neill, The Miracle Hunter.  The Priests We Need To Save the Church, is Kevin's work on encouraging our Priest's to rediscover the grace, depth and beauty of their grace filled vocation.

In 2009, he survived a brush with death after a malformed line of vessels in his brain hemorrhaged. The day after invasive brain surgery failed to control the flow of blood, Kevin was anointed by Fr. James Stack – the longtime best friend of his murdered uncle, Msgr. Thomas Wells. To this day, witnesses in the neuro-ICU room tell of the miracle that unfolded at his bedside. He wrote Burst, A Story of God’s Grace When Life Falls Apart during his recovery.

Kevin is President of the Monsignor Thomas Wells Society for Vocations, which commits itself to the promotion of strong priests, seminarians, and practicing the fullness of the Catholic Faith. His work with youth earned him the James Cardinal Hickey National Figure Award from the Archdiocese of Washington.

When Kevin is not writing and speaking, he enjoys blogging and hosting the One2One Podcast with missionary priest Fr. Dan Leary, who is chaplain to 20,000 children under the care of the Sisters of Mary. Kevin loves baseball, reading writing and lives in Maryland with his wife and three children.

Dr. Daniel and Bethany Meola

Monday, June 17, 2024 St. John the Evangelist Church

Daniel Meola 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 the non-profit Life-Giving Wounds to spread the retreats, support groups, and other ministry to adult children of divorce or separation around the country and currently have 20+ chapters across the United States and Canada. 

 

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 also served the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for seven years in the Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth. 

 

They are authors of the book, Life-Giving Wounds: A Catholic Guide to Healing for Adult Children of Divorce or Separation

 

They live in Bowie, MD with their two daughters, Zelie-Louise and Grace.

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Thomas Wurtz

Tuesday, June 18, 2024 Basilica of the National Shrineof the Immaculate Conception

Thomas has a passion for shaping men into disciples of Christ and harnessing the tremendous opportunity in sports to form and evangelize our youth. Serving as a lay missionary for over 20 years domestically, he has launched the only systematic Catholic outreach in the US for college athletes (Varsity Catholic). He has also lead and shaped the formation of hundreds of men that have also served the Church as missionaries.

"If we do two things in the Church, we can shift the culture: wake up men to live their masculine duty and use sports in our institutions to form and evangelize our young people." 

Thomas has worked since 2001 as a missionary with FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students). In 2007, he launched Varsity Catholic, a division within FOCUS, to take their principles and approach to serve the faith needs of student-athletes across the country. Varsity Catholic has served thousands of college athletes over the years from coast to coast.

He received his Master’s degree in Catechetics and Evangelization as a member of the first graduating class of the Augustine Institute in Denver,Colorado.

Thomas has been featured by the Vatican on the Pontifical Council of the Laity, Church and Sport Section. He served as one of 150 invited delegates to the first Global Conference on Sport and Faith, hosted by the Pontifical Council for Culture in the Fall of 2016.

His first book, Compete Inside: 100 Reflections to Help You Become the Complete Athlete (Foreword by Mike Sweeney) is being used by high school and college athletes across the country. 

He also has vast experience shaping men and facilitated men's formation for hundreds of missionaries for more than a decade. He has written for Those Catholic Men and is featured in the video series by the Knights of Columbus - Into the Breach. His second book, Pursuing Freedom: Becoming the Man You Could Be, was released by Our Sunday Visitor in the summer of 2020. 

He also co-hosts the Man Catholic Podcast.

He is married with five adorable little children and resides in Colorado.

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