Camp Leadership Team
Here is just a sample of some past priests, hosts, and musicians who have led a week of summer camp.
Francis Cabildo is the Director of Campus Ministry JSerra Catholic High School in Southern California. In addition to coordinating and leading music at Life Teen Camps, Francis has worked helped with NET Retreats, Petrus, and 242Revolution. Francis and his wife Nicole have two sons, Dylan and Braden. They live in Chino, California.
“I feel that I am called to help at camp. I love the mission of Life Teen to lead teens closer to Christ. Camp is a beautiful week where transformation is tangible.”
Joe Chernowski is the Director of Youth & Young Adult Ministries, St. Gregory the Great Parish, Diocese of Buffalo. Joe also helps lead young adult ministry for his diocese. Joe has a Master’s in Theology from Christ the King Seminary. Family? “I am married to Kelly who is better known as WOTU (Wifey of the Universe) and have 4 awesome and energetic daughters – indeed, blessed am I among women.”
“What do I love about camp? The mud, of course! I love Jesus Christ, I love teens, and I strive to say yes to the ways God calls me… Running the race to win.”
Katie Dunne is the Life Teen & Edge Youth Minister, St. Matthew Catholic Church in Charlotte, NC. Katie has a BA in Youth Ministry from Pfeiffer University ’07. Katie has recently hosted Edge Camp (Covecrest 2008, 2009) as well as “In Your Jr High Face” in Alexandria, LA.
“Camping ministry combines three of the things I love most in the world… being outside, teenagers, and Christ. I heart camp.”
Michael “Gomer” Gormley is a lay evangelist based out of Houston, Texas. Michael helps lead diocesan and archdiocesan events, youth group retreats, and Catholic high school retreats around the country. Michael and his wife Kateri have a 1-year-old daughter with a second on the way in September of this year. Michael has Masters in Theology and Christian Ministry.
“I love hosting because I love evangelization, of working with teens for longer than just one talk or one weekend, of walking with youth ministers in the sacred task of discipleship.”
Lisa Garcia is the Resource Director for Life Teen International. Lisa was a youth minister in Marietta, GA for four years and has been working for Life Teen for the past six years. Through those years, Lisa has helped lead youth conferences, camps, and adult training events. Lisa and her husband Sergio are expecting their first baby in November of this year. They live in Chandler, AZ.
“I have been a part of Life Teen camps from the very beginning. There is something unique and amazing about having a full week camp experience versus a weekend retreat. The opportunities for depth and conversion abound in summer camps. I love hosting because I have the chance to get to know teens from all over the world.”
Kevin Hickey is the Director of Parish Outreach for Life Teen International in Atlanta, GA. Before joining our staff, Kevin was an Edge junior high minister in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston where he planned and led youth conferences. Most recently, Kevin hosted Life Teen’s Inspiration San Antonio at Six Flags FIiesta.
“Camp is an amazing week to get muddy, get messy, and still encounter Jesus in the Mass, Adoration, and Reconciliation while hanging out with 200+ young people!”
Dan Huss is the youth minister at at Incarnate Word parish in Chesterfield, Missouri. Incarnate Word was one of the first Life Teen parishes in the Midwest, and continues to be one of the largest. Dan is excited to come back and lead his second Edge summer camp. Dan and his wife of 10 years have three children: Lilly 7, Molly 5, and little Will who is 8 months old.
“To be real honest, serving at camp reminds me of what it is like to be a kid again in God’s eyes. The opportunity to have fun and enjoy the gifts God has given me and then to share them with every person on camp with us. I look forward to being humbled in all the ways God will use us to share His love with one another.”
Gabriel Reyes is the Life Teen and Edge minister in Whittier, CA. Gabriel has helped coordinate Discipleship Week in Redlands, CA, along with N.E.T. Ministries. He also plans and coordinate the annual Southern California Life Teen Mass on the Beach.
“I am honored to serve and look forward to see God moving in the lives of the teens. Veni Sancte Spiritus.”
Richard Rivera has served as the Director of Youth Ministry at St. Andrew the Apostle, in Sierra Vista for nine years. As a college student Richard worked as a Core Member and discovered his love for teens, as a youth minister he became passionate about helping others in youth ministry. Richard loves spending time outdoors, cooking, and strives to seek life’s adventures.
“I love seeing teens in unguarded, self-giving prayer. I hope everyone can see the beauty of God working in and through the hearts of teens.”
Joseph Summers works with Family Missions Company and lives with his wife Brooke and son Anthony Joseph in Abbeville, LA. Joseph has done Catholic mission work in North and South America, Europe, and Asia. Coordinated Short-Term Mission trips, Youth Camps, Retreats and other evangelistic outreaches both within the US and “to the ends of the earth!”
“I love to worship JESUS! Camp equals an awesome opportunity to seek the LORD together with brothers and sisters from around the country, while simultaneously getting ridiculously dirty and walking on tight ropes 50 feet in the air.”
Adam Bitter is the Music Minister and Youth Minister at Incarnate Word Parish in St. Louis, Missouri. In addition to his parish ministry, Adam has led music at Steubenville Mid-America for the last 9 years. Adam and his wife Heather have two daughters, Sadie and Gracie, and one on the way that will be born in December.
“I like to serve at camp because it is a chance to spend an entire week with teens and just great people in general. The experience of being outdoors in such a beautiful place, along with all these incredible people allows me to be inspired and to experience God in a very unique way. I truly believe that best way to meet God is face to face, in the sacraments and in personal relationships with His people. Camp offers that in a way that few places do.”
Jackie Francois is a speaker, worship leader, and Spirit & Song artist based out of Southern California. Recently she’s helped lead Steubenville Youth Conferences, NCYC, and several diocesan youth events through the country.
“At summer camp, you don’t just get 3 days, but an entire week of deep Catholic spirituality mixed with a ton of fun! From Mass to Adoration to white-water rafting to ropes courses to silly games to deep discussions, camp shows that Catholics can “live life to the full” no matter what their doing!
Dustin Himmerich is the music director for the Life Teen Band at St. Elizabeth Catholic Church in Rockville, MD and leads worship for our Sunday evening mass. Dustin also leads worship for the Baltimore Frassati Fellowship, a young adult ministry under the direction of the Dominican Friars in Baltimore. The central part of the ministry is Frassati Night of Worship, an evening of adoration with praise and worship and a talk. Life Teen Camp is not new to Dustin. In 2008, he served at Covecrest on Summer Staff, and in 2009 he served as a part of the service crew.
“I’ve seen so many hearts and lives transformed at camp in my time there, including my own. It is truly a place where we can come as God’s children and give Him the praise He deserves. It is with great humility that I come to serve and be a part of the Life Teen family.
Grae McCullough is the associate music director at Our Lady of Prompt Succor Church in Alexandria, LA. He also plays guitar and tours with the Josh Blakesley Band. Grae has led worship for Life Teen and Edge summer camps for five years, and been a part of the music team for Steubenville Youth Conferences for the last eight.
“I like serving at camp because seeing and being a part of teens getting excited about their faith and really living it out inspires me to do the same.”
Mikey Needleman is a music minister based out of Kansas City, KS. Mikey has played at NCYC, NCCYM, as well as many Archdiocesan and regional events including Camp Kateri Tekakwitha, KCYC, TEC, and Kairos retreats. Mikey got engaged in early May ’11 to Ms. Allison Day. Why Allison? “She is an awesome, holy and beautiful person who makes me a way better man.”
“I LOVE camp because I see the beauty of the universal church in the hearts of the teens, chaperones, and staff from all over the country. What an amazing gift it is to meet others and worship with them for a whole week, such amazing relationships, rooted in the Eucharist, are formed in that week that last a lifetime.”
Ben Walther is a campus minister at St. Agnes Academy and ADORE worship leader in Houston. For the past several years, Ben has led music at Life Teen events and at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. Ben and his wife Maria have four boisterous girls and a baby boy on the way.
“The Walthers love to serve at camp because camp is beautiful, gives us the chance to visit with great families, puts my kids in contact with some of the best teenagers in the US, and offers us all the chance to grow closer to GOD and to each other. We LOVE camp!!!”
Priests and Ministers
Fr. Thomas M. Pastorius is the Associate Pastor of St. Mark’s Parish in St. Louis, MO, as well as the Archdiocesan Chaplain for the Catholic Committee on Scouting & Project Rachel.
“I love being there for young people and helping them find God in their lives.”
Br. Paul Kostka is a seminarian at St. John Vianney Seminary in Denver, CO. Locally, Br. Paul leads Bible studies for high school seniors and for middle schoolers. Once a month he leave Denver to help lead retreats throughout the country. Br. Paul is a Bachelor of Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville and currently working on a Masters of Divinity at SJV.
“I love helping with Life Teen Camps because I get to help lead students to Christ over the course of week. The community among the summer missionaries and camp staff is second to none.”
Fr. Jeff McCormick is committed to serving young Catholics. He was ordained in 1996 and soon after got involved by starting Life Teen at his parish. Now as Florida’s Area Contact for Life Teen International, Fr. Jeff supports parishes in Florida who are trying to start youth ministry at their parish. He also helps host and presents at Life Teen’s regional Core Member University events. Fr. Jeff is the Spiritual Director for the Couples for Christ Movement, the Florida delegate for the International Catholic Stewardship Council (ICSC), and has served for eight years on the Archbishop’s Young Adult Council. Fr. Jeff is the pastor at St. Maximilian Kolbe in Pembroke Pines, Florida.
“I serve at the camps because I get to see how the priesthood helps to change lives. I also get to participate in a powerful way with the mission to lead teens closer to Christ. I get to see how adoration moves those who attend (as well as assist) towards greater conversion. It’s faith in action!”
Msgr. Richard Moyer has been an advocate for quality youth ministry through each year of his priesthood and has worked with Life Teen summer camps since the purchase of Covecrest in 2002. In addition to being at the camps in the summer, Msgr. Moyer has helped steer Life Teen’s camping ministry for most of the past decade. Currently, Msgr. Moyer works as a retired priest by helping local parishes, functioning as a chaplain on cruise ships, and responding to emergency calls. Msgr. Moyer has a Master’s Degree in Social Work.
“Summer camp is something I look forward to each year because of the wonderful response of so many teens to this ministry. Thousands of teens have been influenced in a very positive ways during camp weeks. I have been particularly impressed by how many teens have given back by serving as summer staff and Missionaries making great sacrifices by doing so. I am also pleased by how many of these tend have gone on to become Seminarians preparing for the priesthood. I really see the power of the Sacraments radically transforming many lives in amazing ways.”
Father José A. Robles Sánchez is the pastor at St. Frances Cabrini Church, Alexandria, LA. He has served at Life Teen Camps for almost 10 years. When he’s not at home in Alexandria, he speaks at Steubenville Youth Conferences and at parish missions.
“I serve at camp because it’s Catholic. It is Holy Ground. It’s a place where Jesus presence dwells in the Eucharist. The community presence–the Church–is real. That is what we Catholics are about.”
Fr. Joe Pellegrino is the pastor of St. Ignatius of Antioch Parish in Tarpon Springs, Florida, where they’ve had Life Teen since 2003. Fr. Joe learned youth ministry as a member of the Salesians of St. John Bosco from 1965-1979 and have served in numerous ministries and boards relating to youth, including chaplaincy for cancer children, directing several youth camps, teaching and coaching in high schools.
“I am looking forward to my fifth year and sixth week as a priest at Covecrest. The spirituality and happiness of the camp overwhelm me and invigorate me for the year. I love the overpowering joy of the summer missionaries and campers happy in their relationship with God.”
Fr. Damian J. Ference has served as a parish priest for four years at St. Mary Church in Hudson, Ohio, a Life Teen parish. Fr. Damian is currently the Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Borromeo Seminary in Cleveland, Ohio. When he’s not at the seminary, he gives talks to teens and young adults, leads retreats, and writes for Catholic journals.
“I am very excited to help teens come to know Christ, and if they already know him, to help them deepen their friendship with him and his Church.”
Fr. Rich O’Donnell is the pastor at St. Michael Parish in Brattleboro, Vermont. He’s also the chaplain for the Brattleboro Police and Fire Departments. Each of the past five summers Fr. Rich has made the long trip down the east coast to share sacraments at Life Teen Camp Covecrest in Tiger, Georgia.
“I feel God calls me to camp every year to help in the amazing ministry that takes place there and see the miracles that happen year after year is totally rewarding.”