We have priests, religious, and lay volunteers across the US who have seen firsthand our work in eastern Russia and who are willing to come and speak to parishes, parish groups, religious communities, schools, and other organizations.
Audiences are fascinated with stories about Russia. Our speakers have stories of their own and are eager to share their knowledge and experiences. They can also tell how communism erodes religious faith and family structures; how women are finding healing after multiple abortions; why so many Russian children are in institutions or on the street; how the Catholic churches are slowly turning things around; and much more.
Before inviting a speaker, however, you should:
- First discuss this with your pastor and obtain his approval. In certain cases, it may also be necessary to obtain the approval of your bishop.
- Check with the mission office about the availability of a speaker in your area and on your preferred date and time.
- Agree to let our speaker make our newsletters and other literature available to the audience.
We will get back with you on speaker availability and will put you in touch with the mission volunteer who will be visiting your group. You can then work out details with that individual.
V. Rev. Myron Effing, CJD, was ordained in 1972 by the diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. For the next 20 years, he served in a number of capacities—as a science educator, school administrator, vocations director, religious superior at Crosier Monastery in Nebraska, and Rector of the seminary on Guam. In 1991, Fr. Myron answered the call from Pope John Paul II for religious to enter Russia, and he became one of the first priests to serve in the diocese of Novosibirsk. He has since opened or reopened 11 parishes across Eastern Russia.
Fr. Myron serves as pastor for the parishes in Vladivostok, Artyom, and Lesozavodsk. He is also the Superior of the Order of Canons Regular of Jesus the Lord. Fr. Myron is the creative force behind many of our programs in Russia, having arranged for training of catechists, pro-life leaders, and college evangelizers, and guiding the development of their respective programs. Fr. Myron also oversaw an enormous project that not only brought the Vladivostok cathedral back into the hands of the Catholics, but also saw it beautifully and majestically restored. He is loved by parishioners young and old.
Rev. Daniel Maurer, CJD, of Michigan, was ordained in 1992 by Most Reverend Joseph Werth, SJ, Bishop of the Russian Diocese of Novosibirsk. His was actually the first ordination in the enormous diocese of Novosibirsk, and the second in the entire country since the fall of communism. In Russia he has worked as associate pastor, pastor, and as director of liturgical music and sacred music programs.
Fr. Dan is an engaging speaker with dozens of incredible and often humorous stories. He has been featured on EWTN in an hour-long interview with Raymond Arroyo, and has been a guest on Catholic Answers Live, Ave Maria Radio, and EWTN Radio. His work in Russia, along with that of Fr. Myron, has been featured in Columbia magazine, Faith & Family magazine, Catholic World Report, Our Sunday Visitor, and Catholic Digest.
Rev. Steven Bauer is a native of the Chicago area and has been a priest of the Archdiocese since 2004. He is currently the Pastor of St. Alphonsus Parish on Chicago’s north side. Previous assignments have included parochial ministry, Newman Center chaplaincy, and serving on the formation faculty of a college seminary. In those roles, he served as the spiritual director for students on summer mission trips.
It was a trip in 2011 that led him to the Russian Far East. Father was touched deeply by the harsh struggles he witnessed there. Moved also by the simple ways that he could bring hope and joy, especially when conducting a children’s Bible camp in the impoverished village of Lesozavodsk, Fr. Bauer was inspired to return in 2013. His talks blend Scripture, personal stories, truths of our faith, and humor to provide a context that helps people understand the challenges of faith and life there.
Rev. Douglas Grandon, PhD, lives in Denver, where he serves as National Chaplain for FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students), as Parochial Vicar at St. Vincent de Paul parish and where he teaches Homiletics at St. John Vianney Seminary. He has been affiliated with the mission since 2004.
Before becoming a Catholic priest, Fr. Grandon served nearly 25 years as a Protestant pastor and missionary. After much study and prayer, he and his wife Lynn entered into full communion with the Catholic Church. He was ordained to the priesthood in 2008, after Pope Benedict XVI granted him permission to serve as a married Catholic priest. Father’s interest in Russia goes back many years and he has visited the country a number of times. His presentations demonstrate a deep understanding and insight into the unique issues faced by Russian Christians.
Mother M. Stella Whittier, CJD, grew up in Virginia, but now lives on Russian Island, near Russia’s southeastern coast, when she’s not at the motherhouse in the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri. Mother made her solemn profession of perpetual vows in 2010. She holds Master’s degrees in Catholic Studies and Sacred Music.
Today, much of her time is filled with guiding her sisters as prioress. When possible, she plays harp and sings with hospice patients; works with mothers and mothers-to-be in difficult situations; ministers to the abandoned elderly and post-abortive women (Rachel’s Vineyard retreats); assists with the weekly Catholic student group and provides catechetical instruction to needy children in the town of Lesozavodsk. Mother is the organist for the Vladivostok parish choir, and a member of the Sacred Vocal Ensemble at the parish.
Dc. Patrick Cline has served the Church as deacon for more than 42 years. He was ordained in the Diocese of Brooklyn, and served in his home parish in Queens, NY, for eight years and his current parish in New Jersey for 35 years. He has been involved in RCIA, Adult Education, and Sacramental Formation as well as performing the usual pastoral work of a deacon. He has served as Formation Director for three classes of diaconal candidates since 2012.
His first introduction to the mission occurred during a cruise to China, when he took a side tour to visit the only Catholic Church in Vladivostok. There, he met Fr. Daniel Maurer and was overwhelmed by the stories he heard. (Later, on a visit to Boston, he also had the opportunity to meet Fr Myron.) Soon after returning home, he contacted the mission office to learn more and to offer his assistance. Dc. Cline is an enthusiastic speaker and fine representative of both the Catholic Church and the Vladivostok Mission
Tyler Kolden has worked with FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) for 10 years. This organization is centered on reaching students on college campuses and relies on Tyler for its Information Technology needs.
In 2011 and 2013, Tyler led mission trips to Vladivostok, taking FOCUS groups to work with orphans and needy adults. The groups also participated in Russia’s annual Far Eastern Catholic Youth Conference. There, the FOCUS members spoke to Russian young people about how their faith has impacted their lives. Today, Tyler lives in the Denver area with his wife Lynelle and four children. He began serving the mission society as a board member in 2014.
Wes Vaina and his wife Karen live just north of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where they are parishioners at St. Aiden Parish in Wexford. Wes holds a Master’s degree in International Policy Management, having focused on Russian and Eastern European affairs, and he’s currently working towards his Doctor of Education degree, with a concentration in International Comparative Education. He serves as the Director of Admissions and Enrollment for the University of Pittsburgh School of Education.
Wes first contacted the mission office in 2013, after hearing another parish speaker discuss the Church’s work in the Russian Far East. He has since had the opportunity to represent the Mission across the country, not only as a conference representative, but also as a parish speaker. His interest in Russia is evident in his talks. He is a dynamic and passionate speaker, who always receives rave reviews from his host pastors and audiences.