Special Events

Special Guest Speakers & Events

Guest Speakers

Upcoming Special Guest Speakers

February 25, 2023

Deacon Book Event 0223 New Title SquareSpecial Guest Speaker Event
Finding Peace Through the Hardship of Miscarriage

Speaker: Deacon Gerard-Marie Anthony 

7:00-9:00 PM

The evening will begin with the Sunday vigil mass and include light refreshments.


Have you or a loved one experienced a miscarriage or the loss of a child? This loss leaves wounds in a family, not only physical, but also emotional and spiritual wounds. Join us for an evening with Dcn Gerard-Marie Anthony.

Registration fee: $20 per person. 

Dcn Anthony Headshot

Gerard-Marie Anthony is a theologian, author, apologist, and religion/bioethics teacher and worked with teens and young adults for over 20 years. He is a long-time member of the world’s largest lay apostolic organization, the Legion of Mary and a board member of The Mother of Light Center which brings the love of God to the poor and forgotten in society as well as A M.O.M.S Peace which brings comfort to mothers/families who are experiencing miscarriage or stillbirths. In his spare time runs an apologetics website now found at www.jmjgerardmarie.com (formerly www.gerardmarie.com). He also is a member of Black Catholic Ministries and Evangelization board for the Arlington Diocese. Deacon Anthony also gives talks for people of all ages including Young adult groups, Confirmation retreats, and adult education.

His book: The Deacon and the Doctor, A Prescription for Navigating Child Loss provides a spiritual, medical, psychological guide to help families find peace after child loss. As one in four women experience miscarriage, it is essential to provide resources, bring awareness, and teach the community how to engage appropriately so these families are supported properly. Our hope is this book will help families and the community navigate the many obstacles encountered after child loss.

Some of Our Past Guest Preachers and Presenters

Fr. John HopkinsPreacher in Residence: Fr. John Hopkins, LC

July 19-20, 2019

For one weekend in July, former president of Our Lady of Bethesda Retreat Center, Fr. John Hopkins, LC will return to preach at the Marriage Enrichment Retreat, Back to Basics. 

Fr. John will take a break from his work in Los Angeles, CA where he has spent the past two years laying the groundwork for the soon to open Divine Mercy Clinic and Family Center. Similar to Our Lady of Bethesda, it will offer spiritual exercises retreats, marriage preparation and marriage enrichment programs; plus it will staff marriage and family therapists, all in one place! No doubt, his rich experience in pastoral work with married couples and families will greatly enrich that community.

Whether or not you are one of the thousands who have participated in any of the numerous retreats and marriage programs led by Fr. John in the past, joining us for this special marriage weekend will give your marriage a boost of inspiration, laughter and grace.

Frhaydu Web1 924x600Fr. Mark Haydu, LC, award winning author, art historian and former International Coordinator of the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museum was Preacher in Residence for three special events February 2019. 

Monthly Women's Mini-Retreats  ~ February 2019

Fr. Mark Haydu was the lead preacher at Our Lady of Bethesda's Monthly Mini-Retreats for Women.  In February of 2019, Fr. Mark preached both the Morning and Evening Mini-Retreat, speaking about  Art, Beauty & Relationships: Exploring the Instruments of the Master.

Beauty surrounds us in nature, in the people we serve, in the smallest details shared by someone who loves us. If we learn to look with the eye of an artist, we can learn to see the love of our Creator in every face.

An Evening of Art Appreciation~ February 2019

Fr. Mark present an evening of inspiration and education at Our Lady of Bethesda as he revealed some of the details and stories behind many of the works included in the Vatican's collection of masterpieces.

As Director of the International Patrons of the Arts of the Vatican Museums, Fr. Mark Haydu had the rare opportunity to spend countless hours absorbing the rich spirituality of masters such as Michelangelo, Raphael, Ghirlandaio, and more. This experience inspired him to write Meditations on Vatican Art.  The evening gave us all a new understanding of the grace and inspirations that can be found in sacred art and how it can bring one to a deeper experience of God.

Fr. Mark Haydu's Bio

Fr Mark Haydu, LC started his journey in Akron, OH being born the sixth child and fourth boy on July 15, 1972. As an active member of the charismatic renewal Fr Mark went to the Franciscan University of Steubenville followed by a year of missionary work in Antigua, Guatemala and Reynosa, Mexico. He entered the novitiate in Cheshire, CT in 1993, and finished his Humanities degree there in 1996 where he first began to fall in love with Art and History. After two years of Philosophical studies in Rome, he did four years of apostolic internship in Salamanca, Spain, Dublin, Ireland, and Cheshire, CT. Fr Mark returned to Rome to get a master’s degree in Philosophy with a thesis on moral legislation, and then began his Theology studies in 2004, until he was ordained a priest on December 22, 2007. That same year in October, Fr Mark became the Director of the Patrons of the Arts of the Vatican Museums, a position he held until June 15, 2015. During that time, he finished a License in Moral Theology focused on the effects of cohabitation on marital happiness and perseverance. He also published two award winning art books in a series Meditations on Vatican Art. Fr Mark enjoyed being a spiritual director for the legionary seminarians and consecrated women of Regnum Christi while in Rome. He is currently assigned to the NY Tri-State area working as National Chaplain of Lumen Institute. He enjoys sports, playing guitar, reading and writing.

Fr. Mark Haydu's Publications

Fr. Mark Haydu is the author of the series Meditations on Vatican Art! Both books are currently available for purchase in our bookstore.

Meditations on Vatican Art

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Meditations on Vatican Art allows you to deepen your relationship with God as you reflect on art from the Vatican collections and pray the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises. Fr. Mark Haydu, International Coordinator of the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums, serves as the spiritual guide for this exquisite collection of art, contemplation, and prayer. The book follows the four categories of the Ignatian Exercises: 1) Creation, 2) Sin, 3) Jesus Christ, and 4) Resurrection.

Each day of prayer includes: Vatican Art image with a poetic overview and short descriptive background information about the art Scripture passage Reflection on the art image and scripture passage Concluding prayer Reflective questions for the reader to ponder or use as writing prompts 

Create your own retreat with these 28 days of prayer or feast on their beauty as time allows. A rich treasury of art and spirituality for all those seeking to grow in their experience of God.


Meditations on Vatican Art: Angels

Haydu angelsOpen your heart to the presence of angels, God’s holy messengers and protectors. In Meditations on Vatican Art: Angels, you can reflect on stunning depictions from the Vatican Museums and contemplate angelic encounters in Scripture.

Following his acclaimed first book, Fr. Mark Haydu, international coordinator of the Patrons of the Arts of the Vatican Museums, serves once again as your spiritual guide for a breathtaking journey through time, meditation, and the Vatican art collections.

Meditations on Vatican Art: Angels offers you a deeper understanding of your own spiritual journey as you follow Fr. Haydu’s explanation of the battle between the fallen angels and the faithful angels and God sending His angels to watch over you. The book’s splendid reproductions of major works represent ancient through contemporary periods in art.

Contemplate the 34 meditations in this hardbound book as the Holy Spirit inspires or use them to create a retreat for yourself or a group. Let Meditations on Vatican Art: Angels open your heart and help you become aware of angels’ existence and their desire to keep you from harm and guide you to God.


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Author, Speaker, and Consecrated Woman of Regnum Christi, Jennifer Ristine gave a special presentation at Our Lady of Bethesda in May of 2018




Mary Magdalene: Insights from Ancient Magdala

The evening offered us a glimpse into the life and times of one of Our Lord's most devoted followers, Mary Magdalene. Through the lenses of archaeological discoveries, historical texts, scriptural sources, and local traditions. we witnessed the unfolding of a mosaic-like representation of the figure and importance of Mary Magdalene.

Jennifer Ristine's Bio

Jennifer has been serving at the recently excavated site of ancient Magdala in the Holy Land since 2014. She is a consecrated woman and member of the Regnum Christi Movement. Currently, she runs the Magdalena Institute at Magdala, Israel, whose work seeks to highlight issues of human dignity - with an emphasis on the dignity of women - and contributions of the feminine genius in both religious history and facets of life today. 

Jennifer Ristine's Publications

Jennifer Ristine is the author of  Mary Magdalene: Insights from Ancient Magdala.  This book is currently available for purchase in our bookstore.

41wakgbiol. Ac Ul872 Ql65Mary Magdalene: Insights from Ancient Magdala

Mary Magdalene was real. Her life challenges, struggles, and joys were real. Her life was truly transformed by Jesus. Therefore, it must be possible to “unearth” pieces of what was real by digging through the layers of two thousand years of reflection about her. In the process of discovery, may we “unveil the mystery” that Mary Magdalene embodies, and glean treasures for our own life that can inspire purpose and meaning.

This book, is the culmination of Jennifer Ristine's service at the recently excavated site of Magdala in the Holy Land since 2014. She shares her research, dialogue, and answers to questions from countless visitors to Magdala. Through archaeological discoveries, historical texts, scriptural sources, and a survey of traditions, she offers a mosaic-like representation of the figure and importance of Mary Magdalene.

Fjb HeadshotFr. John Bartunek, LC author of the best seller The Better Part and other popular titles, was our special guest in November 2017

Monthly Women's Mini-Retreats & Men's Evening of Reflection  ~ November 2017

In November 2017, Fr. John Bartunek, LC  was the featured guest speaker at the Monthly Mini-Retreats for Women and the Men's Evening of Reflection. In his presentation, entitled “Live Differently – Live Hope!” He encouraged us to carry our crosses fruitfully, saying that “our crosses occur when God’s will intersects with our natural preferences or what God permits in our life.” CDs of his talks are available (until sold out!) in the lobby of OLB.

Book-Signing Wine & Cheese

Due to popular demand, Our Lady of Bethesda also hosted a Wine and Cheese event where Fr. Bartunek shared some stories about his vocation and how he developed his latest book of meditations. 

Fr. John Bartunek's Bio

Fr. John received his BA in History from Stanford University in 1990. He was ordained a Catholic priest for the Legionaries of Christ in 2003 and earned his doctorate in moral theology in 2010. 

His most widely known book is called The Better Part: A Christ-Centered Resource for Personal Prayer. It is the first of three meditation books that make up his “Complete Christian Collection”.  The other two are: Seeking First the Kingdom: 30 Meditations on How to Love God with All Your Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength, and Go! 30 Meditations on How Best to Love Your Neighbor as Yourself. In 2016 he published a series of meditation books delving into the spiritual values behind the natural world: Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter Meditations. His ongoing series of Do-It-Yourself online Catholic Retreat Guides are available in multiple formats at RCSpirituality.org. Fr. John currently resides in Michigan, where he continues his writing apostolate and serves as a confessor and spiritual director.

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Our Lady of Bethesda Retreat Center was pleased to welcome internationally renowned preacher, Fr. Jacques Philippe as featured speaker for a variety events in March of 2017. 


An Evening with Fr. Jacques Philippe ~ March 18, 2017

Fr. Jacques began his visit with an evening event where he presented a beautiful talk about Interior Freedom-True Freedom in Christ. That evening, and at every subsequent event, he generously made time to sign copies of his books.

Monthly Women's Mini-Retreats  & Men's Evening of Reflection ~ March 2017

In March of 2017, Fr. Jacques Philippe featured guest speaker at the Monthly Mini-Retreats for Women and the Men's Evening of Reflection. The Mini-Retreat for women, offered twice, once in the evening then again the next morning, was entitled Finding True Freedom & Happiness in Prayer. He also preached an Evening of Relfecion for the men entitled When I am Weak Christ is My Strength…Finding True Strength in Prayer

Three to STAY Married Marriage Enrichment Weekend:
Solving the Mystery of Prayer in Your Marriage ~ March 24-25, 2017

Fr. Jacques Philippe, was the featured guest speaker for a retreat on prayer for married couples March 24-25, 2017. This retreat, Solving the Mystery of Prayer in Your Marriage, is part of the Three to STAY Married Marriage Enrichment Program. It is a two-day program that offers married couples concrete tools to help them deepen a personal prayer life and build one that they can share. The weekend included a mixture of talks, questionnaires and time for personal reflection, and concluded Saturday evening with a Vigil Mass, Renewal of Vows and dinner. 

Going Deeper… A Prayer Workshop ~ March 26, 2017

Fr. Jacques Philippe closed out his visit with a day-long workshop that presentin practical advice to take prayer life to a deeper level. 


Fr. Jacques Philippe's Bio


Fr. Jacques Philippe's Publications

With over one million books sold in 24 languages Fr. Jacques Philippe's writings have become modern classics on Catholic spirituality! Here are a few titles that are currently available for purchase in our bookstore.

In The School Of The Holy Spirit  Interior Freedom  The Way Of Trust And Love


Auth Stephen LargeStephen Auth has had a long career on Wall Street, first with Prudential Investments in the 1980s and 1990s, and since 2000 with Federated Investors, where he serves as executive vice president and a chief investment officer of Federated Global Equities. Steve is a frequent guest on CNBC, Fox Business News, and Bloomberg TV, a long-standing participant in Barron’s annual investment outlook panel, a member of The Economic Club of New York and The New York Society of Security Analysts, and a chartered financial analyst (CFA). He earned his undergraduate degree at Princeton University, where he graduated summa cum laude, and his graduate degree at Harvard Business School, where he was a Baker Scholar.

Steve is a member of the Regnum Christi movement and sits on the national board of the Lumen Institute, which he helped found in New York.  He has participated in missions in Mexico, and with his wife, Evelyn, has led the New York City street mission for ten years. Steve and Evelyn are involved in a number of other apostolic activities, including a spiritual tour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art called “Man’s Search for God: A History of Art through the Prism of Faith,” which they developed and give on occasional Friday evenings. Steve also serves on the board of the Program for Church Management, being developed in Rome by the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross.

Steve and Evelyn have two wonderful sons, Richard and Michael Auth.

VendettiFr Thomas Vendetti is originally from Rockville, MD. He joined the novitiate of the Legion of Christ in Connecticut in 1995. He studied philosophy and theology at the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum in Rome and obtained a licentiate in philosophy and bachelors in theology. He recently completed his MA in Christian Spirituality at Fordham University in NY, focusing on the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises. Since his ordination to the priesthood in 2009 he has served in the New York Tristate area for four years as vice rector and director of development for the Legionaries’ center of philosophy in Thornwood, NY, as well as chaplain for Regnum Christi in Manhattan. From 2013 to 2016 he was local director and chaplain for Regnum Christi in Chicago. He is currently serving in the Bay Area as director for Our Lady of Santa Clara Retreat Center and chaplain for Regnum Christi

JwestFr. Joshua was born in Naples, Italy, and grew up in Virginia – the oldest of six children.  Despite the Italian connection, he is all-American. He joined the novitiate of the Legion of Christ in 1996 and was ordained a priest in 2009.  He obtained a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Theology and a Licentiate in Philosophy from Regina Apostolorum in Rome.  As a priest, he has served in various capacities as a lover of life, vocation director for the Legion of Christ, Regnum Christi chaplain, school chaplain, and retreat center director. His attraction to the priesthood was to be a missionary and bring people to know the joy of Christ. He loves all sports, especially basketball, skittles, reading, people, and the outdoors. Fr Joshua thinks the beach is better than the mountains.

JasonsmithFr. Jason Smith, LC was ordained at St Mary Major in Rome on December 23, 2006. As a seminarian he studied classical humanities at the Novitiate of the Legionaries of Christ in Cheshire CT, philosophy at Our Lady of Thornwood, in NY, and theology at Regina Apostolorum in Rome. After ordination, he dedicated six years to youth work in the NY Tri-State by running the Regnum Christi Mission Corps, a program for college aged missionaries; he also directed various high school ministries, and he was a spiritual director during the summer discernment programs for the Legionaries of Christ.

Currently, Fr. Jason is an associate pastor at the Basilica of Saint Patrick’s Old Cathedral, works with the Regnum Christi movement, is active in marriage prep and marriage ministry, is a contributor at the Regnum Christ Spirituality Center, and has a social media presence on Instagram at @frjasonsmith.

More from Fr. Jason Smith, LC:
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Fr. Daniel BGuest Preacher: Virtual Spiritual Exercises, May 15-17, 2020

Fr Daniel was ordained a priest with the Legionaries of Christ on December 22, 2007. He currently serves as chaplain of the Lumen Institute chapter and chaplain of Regnum Christi men in Atlanta, GA. He is the chairman of the board of directors for Catholic World Mission. He holds summa cum laude licentiate degrees in philosophy and theology from the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum in Rome, Italy. He is currently a doctoral student at Creighton University’s Interdisciplinary Leadership Program. 

In 2016, Fr Daniel survived a heart attack and in 2018 was diagnosed with multiple myeloma cancer. The experience of suffering and brushes with death has colored his outlook on life. He strives to live each day as a gift from God.  

Fr. Daniel is the author of four published books: The New Fundamentalists (2007), Better with God? (2012), Until Christ be Formed in You (2017) and Journey to Joy: Reflections on the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary (2019). He posts a regular video with insights for life on Instagram and Facebook. 

More from Fr. Daniel Brandenburg
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Our Lady of Bethesda periodically hosts Special Guest speakers and workshops addressing current issues in the culture and facilitating an understanding of the teachings of the Catholic Church, especially those regarding marriage and the family.  Some of our past speakers include:

  • Fr. Mark Haydu, LC
  • Fr. Jacques Phillipe
  • Fr. John Bartunek, LC
  • Jennifer Ristine
  • Ryan Anderson
  • Steve Wagner
  • Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse
  • Fr. Emmerich Vogt, OP
  • Bill Bennett
  • William Peter Blatty
  • Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR
  • Senator & Mrs. Rick Santorum
  • George Weigel