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2023 Diocesan Conference Speakers


Dr. John Bergsma is Professor of Theology at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. A former Protestant pastor, Dr. Bergsma entered the Catholic Church in 2001 while getting his Ph.D. in Bible from the University of Notre Dame. A close collaborator of Dr. Scott Hahn, Bergsma speaks regularly on Catholic radio and at conferences and parishes nationally and internationally. He has authored over a dozen books on Scripture and the Catholic faith, including Bible Basics for Catholics (Ave Maria Press), Stunned by Scripture: How the Bible Made Me Catholic (Our Sunday Visitor), and A Catholic Introduction to the Bible: Old Testament (with Brant Pitre; Ignatius Press). Dr. Bergsma’s talks and studies are available on CD and mp3 from He and his wife Dawn reside with their eight children in Steubenville, Ohio.

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On YouTube: Love is the Greatest Wisdom


Tim Staples is a Catholic author, apologist, and lecturer. He is the Director of Apologetics and Evangelization at Catholic Answers. He served a four-year tour with the Unites States Marine Corps where he sparked a friendship with a devout Christian. Mr. Staples converted into Catholicism in 1988 spending six years for priesthood earning a degree in philosophy and studying Theology at a graduate level. Check out some of his articles at:



Gerardo Salazar is a Mexican-American, originally from Los Angeles California and San Luis Potosí Mexico. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism and Communications, a Master's Degree in Theology and Ministry and is currently pursuing his Doctorate in Hispanic Ministry. Mr. Salazar is the Associate Director for the formation of catechists and Hispanic catechetical leaders in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. Hear him speak to catechists on the techiques and processes of catechesis.




Dr. Rodolfo Felices Luna is Associate Professor of Sacred Scripture at Oblate School of Theology, where he teaches New Testament courses in English and Spanish. Born and raised in Peru, he immigrated to eastern Canada, where he studied in French and received his Ph.D. in Theology – Biblical Studies from the University of Montreal. He directed the Pastoral Institute of the Archdiocese of Sherbrooke and taught and the University of Sherbrooke. He served as president of the French-Canadian Biblical Association from 2017 to 2021. In 2017 he joined the faculty at Oblate School of Theology in sunny San Antonio, Texas, where he helped launch a bilingual Maestría de artes en ministerio pastoral, online. He has authored two books in French on the Fourth Gospel and the First Letter of Saint John. His research interests comprise rhetorical analysis of persuasive religious discourse in the New Testament letters and ecological hermeneutics of the Bible. In 2022 he lead the USCCB V Encuentro Ministry series team on Area 26 “Scripture and Theology.”

Watch a talk by Dr. Luna titled, "Violence and the Bible"
or read his articles on Mary According to St. John: (BILINGUAL)



Rita Martinez is a St. Augustine Institute Consultant, and has worked part time for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. At the parish level, she has held numerous positions: Pastoral Administrator, Family Faith Formation Director, Director of Religious Education, Coordinator of Religious Education and Youth Director. Ms. Martinez has served as President of the local chapter of the Association of Catechetical and Pastoral Ministry (ACPM) for 4 years and Vice President for 4 years. She was one of the founding members of the national Federation of Catechesis with Hispanics (FCH) and served as Vice President for 6 years.


Very Rev. Iden J. Bello is a priest from the Diocese of Laredo. He holds a Licentiate of Canon Law from the Catholic University of America. Fr. Bello is from Venezuela and was one of the first priests to be ordained in the Diocese of Laredo. Currently, he is the rector of San Agustín Cathedral, Laredo Texas, and the Judicial Vicar of the Tribunal for the Diocese of Laredo.


Rev. Jose G. Cadena is a priest from the Diocese of Laredo and was ordained in May 2016. He holds a Master of Divinity from St. Mary of the Lake University. He is working on Licentiate in Sacred Theology with an emphasis on Liturgy and Sacramental Theology. Currently, Fr. Cadena is the administrator of Christ the King Church, Laredo Texas, Master of Ceremonies for Episcopal Ceremonies, and Director of the Diocesan Commission of Divine Worship.


Bill Smith After growing up in Upstate New York and graduating from Siena College, a Franciscan institution, Bill joined a volunteer program staffing low income Catholic schools and parishes and made his way to Texas. After a year teaching junior high at a westside San Antonio Catholic School he began a 44 year career as a DRE. First at that same westside parish and then at a northside San Antonio parish, then two years up in Michigan before returning to Texas to serve for 3 years with the Catholic parishes of Gonzales and 34 years at Sts. Peter and Paul in New Braunfels. It was his first day at that westside parish that he meant Clara Maria Quintana who two years later became his wife. Together they have raised their now adult four boys and one girl. They are blessed with two grandchildren. Along the way, Bill obtained a Masters at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio and served the Archdiocese of San Antonio as a catechist in their catechetical formation programs, which he continues to do. After working as a part time consultant for Loyola Press for over 20 years Bill left parish ministry nearly 4 years ago to become a full time Educational Consultant for Loyola Press serving south Texas and Louisiana. In this role Bill has done numerous catechist inservices as well as presented workshops at Diocesan gatherings in numerous dioceses.