The Family Room (The Quest)

Join co-hosts Mari Cleveland from St. Jude the Apostle and John Gordon and Craig Wesemeyer from St. Peter Chanel as they speak with authors, theologians, and local priests and lay leaders to provide your family encouragement, resources, and hope. Enjoy heartfelt stories and engaging conversations with Catholics who are excited to share their life experiences and acquired wisdom to help your family continue to live out your faith with joy.

Mark Houck, pro-life activist arrested by the FBI

Nothing can prepare you when the FBI descends on your home in a predawn raid, terrifying your wife and seven young children. A civil complaint against him was dismissed days earlier, so Mark Houck couldn’t comprehend the ruckus coming from his front porch. Surely this was a mistake.

Mark was active in the pro-life community for decades, standing peacefully outside a local abortion clinic while offering women a better choice. It was important that his children learn firsthand how they could serve God through this ministry, so when his oldest turned 12, he joined his dad on the sidewalk every week. October 2021 changed everything. Mark’s son had been going to the clinic for several months when a seasoned Planned Parenthood volunteer approached the boy, whispering ugly comments in his ear. Mark repeatedly requested he back away, but he wouldn’t. What ensued over the next two years was Mark’s personal invitation to martyrdom when he refused to plea bargain. His rosary became his anchor as he walked to Calvary, unanimously acquitted of all charges in 2023.

Mark received his undergraduate degree in Human Resources Management and his Master’s in Education from Holy Family University in Pennsylvania, where he also excelled in football, achieving All American status. In 2004 he began a men’s ministry whose goal was to help men grow in virtue and leadership. In its tenth year, The Kings Men continues to help shape Catholic men to be better husbands, fathers and leaders. Mark and his wife, Ryan, home school their children, and Mark recently campaigned for State Representative in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

Resources

Kristen Van Uden Theriault, author, editor, media spokesperson


Kristen Theriault’s family lived their Catholic identity for centuries, but after seeing a culture shift in Catholic education, Kristen desired to keep rich Catholic heritage alive. That included her undergraduate project interviewing Catholics who survived communism, preserving their stories before they became lost. This project became Kristen’s first book, When the Sickle Swings: Stories of Catholics who Survived Communist Oppression.

Entering the international import/export trade after graduation, Kristen soon pivoted into the Catholic book world as the media spokesperson for Sophia Institute Press, where she now pursues her dream of showcasing Catholic heritage to the world.

When Angel Studios called asking for a companion book to their movie on Mother Cabrini, Kristen was a natural. Gathering Mother’s written words, Kristen mined Mother’s letters and retreat notes, pulling out gold nuggets and organizing them thematically into 52 weekly devotionals, each with a separate theme.

Released simultaneously with the movie, her book The Mother Cabrini Companion fills in the blanks the movie left out, showcasing a woman whose love for God allowed her to topple obstacles on behalf of the forgotten immigrants of her time.

Resources

Dr. DiAnn Ecret - PhD, MSN, RN, MA cert


By early high school, DiAnn Ecret dreamed of becoming a missionary nurse, and it was at a Catholic nursing school and hospital that her formative years in the medical field seamlessly flowed from the moral tradition that all life is sacred, from conception through natural death.

Following the Nuremburg Trials and Syphilis Study at Tuskegee, Alabama, America helped develop “Principalism” which stressed the dignity and autonomy of every human being. As a result, the Catholic and secular medical positions were effectively synonymous, both honoring the sanctity of life and importance of truthful disclosure to patients.

By the early 1990s DiAnn found herself at a crossroads, or what she calls “the dark night” of her nursing career. Faced with an upsetting ethical choice, she resigned at the end of that shift and began a personal search which would help answer the bioethical questions looming on the horizon.

Listen as DiAnn explains how her search caused her to understand the dangerous trajectory of current secular medical ethics, highlighting the stark contrasts between Catholic and secular bioethics today.

DiAnn graduated from Our Lady of Lourdes School of Nursing in 1987 and has 38 years of combined adult, pediatric, and neonatal critical care nursing experience, nursing management, and nursing education experience. Currently, DiAnn teaches full time as an Associate Professor of Nursing at Ave Maria University and works as a nurse ethicist at the National Catholic Bioethics Center. She also volunteers providing ethics consultations services for ‘Be Not Afraid’ and volunteers as a guest lecturer for The Nurse Residency Program Naples Comprehensive Health (NCH) care in Southwest Florida.

Resources

  • National Catholic Bioethics Center: “Dedicated to Upholding the Dignity of the Human Person in Health Care and Biomedical Research since 1972.” Email: consults@ncbcenter.org for consultation requests, questions regarding the Church’s teaching on bioethical issues, guidance in moral decision making, or other matters to be directed to an NCBC ethicist. Please allow up to 3 days for a response. In emergency situations, an NCBC ethicist is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, by calling 215-877-2660 (only for imminent, end-of-life questions.) NCBC ethicists do not provide legal or medical advice.
  • Be Not Afraid: a private, non-profit organization supporting parents carrying to term following a prenatal diagnosis.

Daniel Fitzpatrick, husband, father, teacher, and author


Drawing from the rich cultural heritage of his Louisiana hometown, Daniel Fitzpatrick saw a stark contrast between the rhythmic nature of Catholic life in New Orleans and the hustle-bustle of other cities. In New Orleans, time followed the liturgical seasons of the Church. In other places, each Sunday felt the same, often fostering a sense of obligation and melancholy.

Wanting to highlight the essence of Catholic life as the source of our contentment, Dan set out to discover why Sunday lost its meaning for the majority of Catholics. Going back to Church Fathers like Augustine and Aquinas gave him the clues necessary to adapt his own thinking about how we can capture the importance of the Sabbath, cementing Sunday as the proper anchor to our week.

In his book, Restoring the Lord’s Day: How Reclaiming Sunday Can Revive Our Human Nature, Dan lays out five ways we can reorder our Sunday activities in order to restore the Sabbath’s holiness and learn to live each day in restful surrender to God.

Daniel Fitzpatrick lives in New Orleans with his wife and four children, and he teaches English at Jesuit High School of New Orleans.

Resources

James Flanagan – Exec. Dir., Catholic World Mission

It’s often only in hindsight that we understand how God equips us for our perfect mission. As Executive Director of Catholic World Mission (CWM), James Flanagan recounts how he was required to write daily goals in the Army, never understanding why he’d always list working for a Catholic non-profit some day. Now he knows.

By building relationships with local Bishops and Archbishops, CWM connects with local priests and nuns who understand the needs of their communities, helping them develop local solutions to local problems. Through this model, they are able to build bridges to communities in need all over the world, sifting through more than 500 potential projects each year.

Basing their choices on the three pillars of evangelization, education, and dignified living, CWM’s main goal is to alleviate suffering, illuminate the mind, and ignite the Spirit. Having joined CWM in 2023, one of James’ main goals is to help restore mission trips, broadening the ways that people can participate in CWM’s growing mission field.

James Flanagan is a devout Catholic with over 12 years of leadership and success in communications as well as various nonprofit recognitions. He served close to nine years in the Army where he had the honor to lead many successful teams in countries throughout the Middle East and Asia. James later worked in Senior and Executive corporate communications roles for Fortune 250 companies with an emphasis on Corporate Social Responsibility. He holds a BBA from the University of Georgia and a JD from the Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law. James and his wife, pediatrician Dr. Elaine Flanagan, are expecting their third child and attend Mary Our Queen parish in suburban Atlanta.

Resources

Jennifer Thomas, writer, speaker, and podcaster


After losing both parents within a year to cancer, Jennifer Thomas admits she wasn’t on best terms with God. Her first Mother’s Day as a Mom was also her first Mother’s Day without a Mom.

No two people grieve the same, and Jennifer shares a unique tool which started her journey to healing. After God softened her heart, she met Andrea Bear at a workshop of The Catholic Writers Guild. Drawn by their joint love of writing, joint grief became their greatest bond as Andrea also lost her mom.

With strong encouragement, within a year they had the outline for their successful show, “The Mourning Glory Podcast,” which began airing in the fall of 2023. Their goal is to let people know they are not alone in their suffering by inviting guests to share what grief looked like for them and how God helped turn their own mourning into glory.

Jennifer Thomas is a Catholic wife and mom who recently reverted back to the faith. In addition to being a contributing writer for Catholicmom.com, she is a stationary enthusiast who enjoys sending meaningful letters to her friends and family. She also enjoys researching ways to instill Catholic traditions within her family while finishing her first book about her journey.

Resources

Carrie Huebner, CFCP, PA-C


Often those drawn into medicine choose it because they desire to help others navigate a difficult road they traveled themselves. Carrie Huebner was inspired by her own infertility journey to teach others a more natural approach to reproductive health.

A cradle Catholic, Carrie’s faith lay dormant until her first post-graduate degree. She moved to Atlanta where she met her future husband, a new convert, who encouraged her reversion, including a newfound appreciation for the Church’s teaching on sexuality.

Early in their marriage Carrie and Rick struggled with infertility and found success through the Creighton Method. Four children later they felt called to teach others about the beauty of the woman’s body and how couples can achieve pregnancy by working with it; not against it.

Although a home-school mom with a career in physical therapy, Carrie felt God leading her to branch out further, allowing her to fulfill a deep desire to treat the entire person; not just their symptoms.

Now the mother of five, Carrie currently works as an orthopedic surgical PA and is excited to be offering family, integrative, and restorative reproductive medicine through her Santa Casa Center.

About Carrie Huebner, CFCP, PA-C: University of FL – Bachelor of Science in Health Science and Masters in Physical Therapy Emory School of Medicine – Physician Assistant Program, PA-C, awarded the Georgia Physician Assistant Association Scholarship and graduated with top honors. Inducted into the Pi Alpha Honor Society. George Washington University – Master’s degree in Integrative Medicine Certified Fertility Care Practitioner (CFCP) for the Creighton Model of Fertility Care and NaPro Technology Medical Consultant

Resources

  • Carrie Huebner is the founder of Santa Casa Center - Treating ages 18 and up, the Santa Casa Center offers traditional family medicine, integrative medicine, fertility awareness & family planning, hormone replacement, and so much more! Telemedicine now allows Carrie to practice in five states (GA, FL, AL, LA, and WI).

Dale Ahlquist, author, co-founder of the first Chesterton Academy


In his book, Localism: Coming Home to Catholic Social Teaching, Dale Ahlquist gathers 12 of the finest thinkers in Christianity today who offer concrete solutions to society’s ills, pointing to the success of localism through the family and local community as the cure.

Civilization starts with the family and thrives by investing in our community. Industrialization and technology have consolidated commerce so that today we shop globally from our phones. As a result, centralization has crippled small towns and businesses. We no longer know our neighbors. Dale Ahlquist set out to highlight the misunderstood Catholic social teaching of “subsidiarity,” renaming it “localism.” Basically, the concept means you should be in control of those things which most affect you rather than giving control to a centralized source.

Raised Baptist and the father of six children, Dale Ahlquist’s road to Catholicism was paved by G.K. Chesterton. Having authored or edited more than 20 books on the man, Ahlquist founded the Society of G.K. Chesterton and was invited by EWTN to host a series called The Apostle of Common Sense. Not content with writing and talking about Chesterton, Ahlquist wanted to teach this man’s common sense philosophy to our youth. He co-founded the first Chesterton Academy, capitalizing on the rigors of an integrated classical curriculum that teaches students how to be what Ahlquist calls “complete thinkers.” Chesterton Academy currently has more than 70 schools around the world, including one right here in Atlanta.

Resources

Carolyn and Sean Loub


It’s not unusual for Catholic moms to consider the priesthood for their boys, but Carolyn Loub admits she didn’t pray for a priestly vocation. As a matter of fact, when their third son left a note for his parents saying he’d discerned a call to the priesthood, they were shocked. Carolyn felt they hadn’t done anything special to encourage his vocation, saying, “I didn’t think I was a mom who raised a future priest. It’s a God thing.”

Their son, Sean, candidly shares how his first nudge came while he was a young altar server watching the gestures of the priest. His prayer life was nominal until high school when he felt the Holy Spirit drawing him into a deeper relationship. Close friends invited him to a Latin Mass and, although reluctant, he fell in love with the reverent liturgy, eventually asking God to give him clear signs if the priesthood was his vocation. God gave Sean the assurances he needed, and he applied to and was accepted by the Institute of Christ The King Sovereign Priest. Sean graduates high school in the spring of 2024 and will begin his candidacy as an Oblate with the Institute in the fall of 2024.

Sean is an incredibly gifted young man, serving as the President of both his school’s Student Council and Students for Life. He is also captain of the school’s tennis team and enjoys playing pickleball.
Sean is also a member of the “Men of St. Joseph” as well as the “Knights of the Holy Temple” at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parish. He is also an altar server.

Carolyn Loub has sung in the choir since she was a child and is a former home blogger and interior designer who has taken her life up a notch since becoming a “pickleball fanatic” – designing a line of pickleball apparel under the name “The Pickle Chicks.”

Resources

Sister Mary Ann Fatula, author


As one of eight children, Sister Mary Ann Fatula felt drawn to the Mass at a young age, never missing a day since receiving her First Holy Communion at age seven. Now 81 and retired, Sister Fatula declares herself a mere youth among the other Dominican nuns she cares for at their nursing home.

A prolific writer, Sister Fatula’s book, The Wonders of the Mass and the Eucharist: Insights of the Saints, will give you a greater understanding of the Communion of Saints through the profound and tender writings of 10 saints who also loved the Mass. These saints will teach you about the immeasurable graces the Lord gives you at Mass and through the Eucharist. You will hear that when Jesus comes down onto the altar, He brings all of heaven with Him, opening up to us the many profound mysteries invisibly taking place at each Mass. Through Sister Fatula’s eyes of faith, you will never experience Mass the same way again.

Sr. Mary Ann Fatula, O.P., received her PhD in Systematic Theology at Catholic University of America and then was a professor of theology at Ohio Dominican for over 30 years.

Resources

Books by Sister Mary Ann Fatula:

Co-hosts of The Family Room, Mari Cleveland from St. Jude and Craig Wesemeyer from St. Peter Chanel, talk with Marci Nunnery from the Cathedral of Christ the King who shares about the beauty of the rosary.

Dr. Paul Chaloux, moral theologian and author


Dr. Paul Chaloux just completed the third book in his trilogy on the three great mysteries of life: suffering, death, and love. His latest, called Heaven’s Currency: A Study of Love, builds upon the first two: Why All People Suffer and Dying Without Fear. Combined, all three show us how love is Heaven’s true currency.

Listen as Dr. Chaloux explains how understanding eternity relies on our ability to stop focusing on the here and-now by understanding that God permits suffering and even death as gateways to love. Suffering is not a punishment, but a vehicle.

With a PhD in Moral Theology, Dr. Chaloux draws on not only textbook knowledge but from first-person suffering, including his own diagnosis of early-onset Parkinson’s disease. Theologically rich and emotionally powerful, Dr. Chaloux can help you understand why Heaven’s currency really is love.

Dr. Paul Chaloux earned a BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Virginia and worked for IBM as an engineer, manager, and strategist for over 33 years. In 2014, Dr. Chaloux earned an MA in Religious Education from Fordham University and in 2020 earned a PhD in Moral Theology from the Catholic University of America. Dr. Chaloux has been married for more than 35 years and has four grown children and three grandchildren. He teaches theology at Catholic University as well as religion classes at his parish in suburban D.C.

Resources

Mary Jane Zuzolo, author


Most Catholics would recognize the sixth Station of the Cross, Christ’s face imprinted on Veronica’s veil. This sacred relic is kept safely in the Vatican, but few know about the Holy Face Devotion which was approved by Pope Leo XIII in 1895. Mary Jane Zuzolo shares from her book, Unveiling the Sixth Station of the Cross: Reparation to the Holy Face, Mother of All Devotions, about many miracles attributed to Veronica’s veil, which has generated more miracles than the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes.

Hear Mary Jane’s engaging recount of her family’s deeper faith journey and discovery of her ancestor, a Carmelite nun from the 1800s to whom Christ shared messages of the Holy Face Devotion. The devotion makes reparation for the rejection of God, particularly against the first three Commandments. Reparation through this Devotion is meant to help alleviate the real suffering these sacrileges present against God, thereby renewing the Image of God on the souls of those who make reparation.

Resources

Clarence Burkholder and Brian Lee from St. Paul Street Evangelization


The word evangelization often evokes negative emotions in people, but St. Paul Street Evangelization offers a friendly and safe approach to sharing the Gospel and planting seeds which can have lasting effects on people. Hear how two experienced evangelists trained in this approach, Clarence Burkholder, the Atlanta Team Leader covering colleges and universities in a 4-state area, and Brian Lee, the National Director of Evangelization Teams, share heartwarming stories of how God has used them to bring total strangers into the Catholic Church — often years later.

Clarence and Brian also share four steps - listen, befriend, proclaim, and invite - that are sure to help would-be evangelists be successful. Discover how to evangelize by focusing on the other person’s story first in order to understand them, building a bridge that leads to answering questions to clarify misunderstandings and encouraging them to investigate Catholicism further.

Resources

  • St. Paul Street Evangelization - Their mission is to train, equip, and mobilize Catholic evangelists to become a bridge between the streets and the parish, offering dialogue which helps strangers move past their roadblocks to Catholicism.
  • Learn the art of evangelization at your own pace
  • To receive Clarence Burkholder’s daily bulletin, contact him at cnkburk@gmail.com with your name and email address.

Dr. Patrick Fagan, director of MARRI at The Catholic University of America


As a clinical psychologist, Dr. Patrick Fagan likened his role to that of a priest due to the personal access he has to peoples’ deepest secrets. Early in his career, his life was forever changed when he learned that federally-funded programs often worked to undermine family stability rather than strengthen it. Hear how Dr. Fagan, determined to help shed light on the problem, pursued his doctorate and transitioned his career over to Public Policy, hoping to influence legislation on Capitol Hill by showing that strong families are critical to a thriving country.

Resources

  • MARRI: Marriage and Religion Research Institute
  • Marripedia: An online social science encyclopedia that synthesizes and translates the work of social scientists into concise, issue-specific entries that are intelligible to the lay reader.
  • FORGE – The Fight for Family. Course: “Fathers and Sons: Conversations on Sex Ed, Marriage, and Masculinity.” The course has an emphasis on fathers and sons but is valuable for parents of both sexes. First module is FREE.
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