Fellows

FELLOWS

BISHOP ROBERT BARRON

Bishop Robert Barron is the founder of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. He is also the host of CATHOLICISM, a groundbreaking, award-winning documentary about the Catholic Faith, which aired on PBS.

Bishop Barron is a #1 Amazon bestselling author and has published numerous books, essays, and articles on theology and the spiritual life. He is a religion correspondent for NBC and has also appeared on FOX News, CNN, and EWTN.

Bishop Barron's website, WordOnFire.org, reaches millions of people each year, and he is one of the world's most followed Catholics on social media. His regular YouTube videos have been viewed over 25 million times and he has over 1.5 million followers on Facebook.

COURSES

Theology of Hans Urs Von Balthasar

John Henry Newman: The Greatest Catholic Theologian Since Aquinas

JARED ZIMMERER, M.A. 

Jared Zimmerer is the Director of the Word on Fire Institute. He holds a Master’s Degree in Theology from Holy Apostles College and Seminary and is currently studying for a PhD in Humanities from Faulkner University. 

He and his wife Jessica live in North Texas with their six children. He is an author, speaker, and holds a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology. 

He spent four years as the Director of Adult Catechesis and Family Life at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Parish in Grapevine, Texas before joining the team at Word on Fire.

He has written two books, The Ten Commandments of Lifting Weights and Man Up! Becoming the New Catholic Renaissance Man. Jared has appeared on EWTN and has been interviewed on numerous radio shows and podcasts.

COURSES

8 Principles of Word on Fire

The Evangelical Spirituality of Thomas Merton

LEAH LIBRESCO

Leah Libresco has worked as a statistics professor, a data journalist, and a Bayesian probability instructor. She grew up as an atheist and converted to Catholicism while studying at Yale.

Through various relationships and reading the likes of Lewis and Chesterton, Leah began to learn more and more about the Catholic faith and was received into the Catholic Church in November 2012. Her conversion unfolded through her popular blog, Unequally Yoked, and was also covered by various media outlets including CNN, NBC News, and TheBlaze.

Leah is the author of two books, Arriving at Amen (Ave Maria Press, 2015) and Building the Benedict Option (Ignatius Press, 2018). She continues to write about faith, philosophy, math, and musical theatre on her blog, and her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, First Things, The Weekly Standard, The American Interest, The American Conservative, America, Fare Forward, and many other outlets.

Leah and her husband, Alexi, live in New York City.

COURSES

Christian Community as Leaven For the World

DR. MATTHEW NELSON

Dr. Matt Nelson is the Assistant Director of the Word on Fire Institute. He holds a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College in Toronto, and a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Regina. He is currently pursuing a M.A. in philosophy from Holy Apostles College and Seminary.

Matt is also the author of Just Whatever: How to Help the Spiritually Indifferent Find Beliefs That Really Matter (Catholic Answers Press, 2018). He has been a regular contributor to the Catholic Answers Online Magazine, Strange Notions, and the Word on Fire blog. He has appeared on Salt and Light Television, and has been interviewed on Catholic Answers Live, EWTN Radio, Relevant Radio, Redeemer Radio, Ave Maria Radio, and Breadbox Media, and a number of podcasts.

Matt currently resides in Saskatchewan, Canada with his wife, Amanda, and their three children.

COURSES

Reaching the Indifferent

DR. HOLLY ORDWAY

Dr. Holly Ordway is Professor of English and faculty in the M.A. in Apologetics at Houston Baptist University; she holds a PhD in English from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is the author of Apologetics and the Christian Imagination: An Integrated Approach to Defending the Faith (Emmaus Road, 2017) and Not God’s Type: An Atheist Academic Lays Down Her Arms (Ignatius, 2014).

Dr. Ordway is also a published poet, and a Subject Editor for the Journal of Inklings Studies. Her academic work focuses on the writings of the Inklings, especially C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.

Her current book project is Tolkien’s Modern Reading: Middle-earth Beyond the Middle Ages (forthcoming from Word on Fire, 2021).

COURSES

Imaginative Apologetics

FR. DAMIAN FERENCE

Fr. Damian Ference is a priest of the Diocese of Cleveland. He graduated from Borromeo Seminary/John Carroll University in 1998, and after earning his M.A. and M.Div. from Saint Mary Seminary and Graduate School of Theology he was ordained for the diocese of Cleveland in 2003. He served as parochial vicar at St. Mary Parish in Hudson, Ohio from 2003-2007. In 2009 he earned his licentiate in philosophy from The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. Ference has been part of the formation faculty at Borromeo Seminary since 2009.

He has served at Borromeo Seminary in Wickliffe, Ohio as Director of Human Formation and Assistant Professor of Philosophy, and is currently a doctoral student in philosophy at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas in Rome, Italy.

Father Ference has published articles in a wide variety of periodicals and regularly preaches retreats and parish missions. He is the founder and director of {TOLLE LEGE} Summer Institute and is a lifetime member of the Flannery O’Connor Society.

COURSES

To The Peripheries!

DR. CHRISTOPHER KACZOR

Dr. Christopher Kaczor is Professor of Philosophy at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. He holds a Ph.D. (1996) from the University of Notre Dame and did post- doctoral work in Germany at the Universität zu Köln.

He has authored several books, the latest of which is The Seven Big Myths about the Catholic Church (Ignatius, 2012) and Life Issues, Medical Choices (co-authored with Dr. Janet Smith, Servant, 2016).

Dr. Kaczor's research on issues of ethics, philosophy, and religion has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, National Review, NPR, BBC, EWTN, ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, MSNBC, and The Today Show.

COURSES

Seven Myths About the Catholic Church

DR. STACY TRASANCOS

Stacy A. Trasancos earned a PhD in Chemistry from Penn State University and a MA in Dogmatic Theology from Holy Apostles College and Seminary.

Before becoming Catholic, she worked as a chemist for DuPont before leaving to raise children. Now she teaches chemistry and physics for Kolbe Academy and theology and science courses for Holy Apostles and Seton Hall University. 

She has written numerous articles for Catholic publications, such as U.S. Catholic, St. Austin’s Review, The Integrated Catholic Life, National Catholic Register, Catholic Answers Magazine, and Catholic World Report.

She is the author of Science Was Born of Christianity: The Teaching of Fr. Stanley L. Jaki (Habitation of Chimam, 2014) and Particles of Faith: A Catholic Guide to Navigating Science (Ave Maria Press, 2016).

COURSES

Science for Evangelists

DR. ANTHONY PAGLIARINI

 

Dr. Anthony Pagliarini grew up in northeastern Pennsylvania (Wilkes-Barre). After earning his BA in theology and philosophy at Notre Dame, he taught high school in a Catholic mission parish in Belize. He then moved to Rome to study theology at the Angelicum and work as a guide in the Vatican Necropolis (the "Scavi"). He spent the following three years in Austria completing masters work at the International Theological Institute. He then returned to Rome for further study at Pontifical Biblical Institute.

Dr. Pagliarini married his wife Katie in 2010 and returned to Notre Dame to begin doctoral work in Old Testament. In 2015, after successfully completing 27th grade and writing a very long paper, they let him graduate. Anthony and Katie live in South Bend with their four children. They teach in the Department of Theology at Notre Dame, where Anthony is also the Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies.

COURSES

How "Nones" Can 
Misread the Bible

DR. TOD WORNER

Tod Worner is a husband, father, Catholic convert & practicing internal medicine physician. He is also the Managing Editor for the Word on Fire Institute Journal Evangelization and Culture.

His blog, “Catholic Thinking”, is found at Aleteia.com. He also writes for Patheos (“A Catholic Thinker”) and the National Catholic Register. Follow him on Twitter @thinkercatholic.

COURSES

How Great Writers Form Wise Catholics

Dr. Jennifer Frey

DR. JENNIFER FREY

Dr. Jennifer Frey is currently an assistant professor of philosophy at the University of South Carolina.

Previously, she was a Collegiate Assistant Professor of Humanities at the University of Chicago. She earned her PhD in philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh. She is also a wife and mother of six.

COURSES

Happiness and the Meaning      of Life

FR. STEPHEN GADBERRY

Fr. Stephen Gadberry is a native of Wynne, Arkansas and a Catholic priest for the Diocese of Little Rock, ordained on May 28, 2016. When not preaching at the pulpit, you can find him exercising, spending time outdoors, coaching a CrossFit class or playing with his dogs, Murph and Shorty. He was featured on Episode 1 of season 10 of America Ninja Warrior in 2018. To relax his soul, he enjoys listening to music, as well as making music on the piano, guitar and harmonica.

In addition to his duties as pastor of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Batesville, he serves as pastor of St. Cecilia’s Catholic Church in Newport, AR. Father Stephen is also a veteran of the United States Air Force.

COURSES

The People You Will Meet

DR. MATTHEW PETRUSEK

Dr. Matthew Petrusek received an MA (Yale University) and PhD (University of Chicago) in religious ethics and is currently associate professor of theology at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. He specializes in Christian ethics, though lectures broadly, in English and Spanish, on philosophy, theology, and the Catholic intellectual tradition.

In addition to serving as a WOFI fellow, he is host of the show Reasons to Believe at WordNet TV, co-author of Two Rules for Life: A Christian Response to Jordan Peterson (under contract with WOFI Press), co-editor of Value and Vulnerability: Contemporary Interfaith Dialogue on Human Dignity (University of Notre Dame Press), and has published in numerous academic journals. He lives with his wife and children in the Inland Empire in Southern California.

COURSES

Re-enchanting the Secular

ROBERT MIXA, M.T.S.

Robert Mixa is the Educational Fellow at the Word on Fire Institute. He holds a Master of Theological Studies (MTS) degree from the Pontifical John Paul II Institute at CUA and a BA in Philosophy from Saint Louis University. Prior to working at the Institute, he taught theology and philosophy at Carmel Catholic High School. 

Robert has been a part of the Word on Fire community for many years. His passion is to contribute to the renewal of Catholic education and share the rich intellectual and spiritual tradition of the Church.

ANDREW PETIPRIN

Andrew Petiprin is the Fellow of Popular Culture at the Word on Fire Institute. He is an author and former Anglican cleric who came into full communion with the Catholic Church on January 1, 2019. He earned an M.Div. from Yale University and an M.Phil from Oxford University.