Service Project Prep

Hello Convo 2018 Participants,

We are very excited to see everyone soon and get our great week started!

Every year we do a service project on one of the days in order to help an organization in need, whether it was making blankets for the homeless shelter or writing cards to veterans, we try to help the people that need it the most. This year is no different as we will be supporting the NEPA Youth Shelter located in Scranton, PA. As requested by their Executive Director, Maureen Maher-Gray, we will be supplying NEPA Youth Shelter with school supplies for the upcoming school year.

For many of us, purchasing school supplies has become a ritual and a sign that summer vacation is ending. However, for some people this can bring fear and be something that means a hard year of struggling is ahead. To stay on track with the theme of the week, we ask that the participants act as “financial lifeguards” for our peers that are having trouble meeting the requirements of the supply lists for the upcoming school year. The 2018 Convo Committee is requesting that the participants bring a suggested monetary donation of about $10 (but of course, any amount is greatly appreciated!). At Convo, as a group, we will assemble supply bags for distribution to these deserving kids.

We hope you can help to the best of your ability and sincerely appreciate anything that can be donated.

Rebecca Kotula
Secretary of the Convo 2018 Committee


Convo Outreach – Making a Difference for At-Risk Youth

Convo 2018 is supporting the NEPA Youth Shelter founded by Maureen Maher-Gray.

Maureen was raised in the desert southwest. She attended Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington where she earned both a Bachelor of Arts and a Masters of Arts degrees. She worked in corporate America for several years while raising her family. Maureen went back to school and earned a teaching degree which she joyfully used at St. Aloysius Catholic Grade School and Gonzaga Preparatory. In 2009, circumstances allowed her to move to Pennsylvania where she took up the mantle of issue politics. Her passion for social justice and her local work opened her eyes to the issue of youth homelessness in NEPA. After much research and organizing community meetings about the subject, Maureen began the nonprofit NEPA Youth Shelter to address this issue. She

Maureen her Board of Directors opened an After School Teen Drop In Center in Scranton in October 2017. The center serves all youth, especially low income and at-risk youth. As of June 15,2018 the center had welcomed 113 individual teens, averaging 36 teens per day. She is actively working with 3 of the youth who attended the center to find housing because they no longer live with their families/guardians. She is honored to be a part of this year’s Youth Convocation.

Maureen would like to especially thank the attendees for their community service project for the teens who attend the Center. May the Lord’s blessing be upon you in all your good works.

NEPA Youth Shelter
541 Wyoming Ave,
Scranton NY 18509


Meet Your Speakers – Phillip Sallavanti

Phillip Sallavanti has over thirty-five years of experience working in the human services field. Phillip’s Mindfulness journey began 18 years ago.He studied Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) at the Mindfulness Center, Thomas Jefferson University Medical Center in Philadelphia. Phillip has studied under the tutelage of Gina Biegal (Stressed Teens) and Dr. Amy Saltzman (The Still Quiet Place) qualifying him to teach children and teens.

Phillip is also qualified to teach Eat Right Now a mindfulness eating practice, Craving to Quit, a smoking cessation practice, and Unwinding Anxiety under the direction of Dr. Judson Brewer the Director of Re-search at the Center for Mindfulness, University of Massachusetts Med-ical Center.

Phillip has provided mindfulness instruction in both private and public schools and local colleges. He has also provided workshops and semi-nars for professional counselors, day care providers, lawyers, medical students, corporations, educational and health care professionals.


Meet Your Speakers – Tom Coverly

Tom Coverly, The Illusionist, a Christian Magician

Tom Coverly is a professional comedian, illusionist and motivational speaker. Tom has performed for millions around the world headlining several tours. He is the most requested motivational entertainer in the nation. Tom has been seen on TV (NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX) and heard on numerous radio stations around the country sharing his story. He has entertained several celebrities, Jep & Jessica Robertson from the hit TV show, “Duck Dynasty”, Rick The Reptile Guy (A&E TV Show “Wild Transport”), i-Shine (TBN), Amber Montana (Nickelodeon TV show “Haunted Hathaways”), Victoria Koloff (Lifetime TV show, “Preachers’ Daughters”) & the entire cast and producers for the “Batman Vs. Superman” Movie.

Tom has performed for major corporations like; Warner Brothers, Gerber, Amway, Sprint, Arby’s & Burger King just to name a few. He has shared the stage speaking with many of the nations most recognized speakers and bands; Toby Mac, Newsboys, Casting Crowns, Skillet, Brian “Head” of Korn, Thompson Square, Chris Tomlin, Building 429, NF, Lacrae, SwitchFoot, For King & Country, Colton Dixon (American Idol), Disciple, Danny Gokey (American Idol), Mercy Me, Pop Evil, Reggie Dabbs, Nick Vujicic (Life Without Limbs), William Paul Young (NY Best Seller “The Shack”), Bob Lenz (Life Promotions), and many more!


Meet Your Speakers – John Baldino

Secular Franciscan and College Instructor John Baldino, OFS, MALS is President and Managing Director of Baldino Digital, a media production and marketing firm specializing in digital strategies for small and medium-size businesses (SMBs). A digital lifestyle and strategy expert, John has worked with more than 50 television stations and other local media companies in over 30 markets nationwide creating, distributing, and monetizing digital content.

John is a published writer and an award-winning television host and producer. A renowned presenter, he has delivered more than 500 speeches and presentations in 16 states and the District of Columbia. John has worked in high-level positions at top-tier and regional media companies including the New York Times Broadcast Media Group, Nexstar Media Group, and the Wilkes-Barre Publishing Company where he was the youngest vice president in the company’s history.

John serves on faculty in the humanities division at Lackawanna College in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he teaches and develops courses in Philosophy, Religious Studies, and Communications. For four years, he was Adjunct Instructor of Communications and English at Keystone College in LaPlume, Pennsylvania. From 2012 to 2017, John taught Catholic education at SS. Anthony & Rocco Parish in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Scranton.

John is a graduate of Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communications: Digital Media and Broadcast Production. He holds a Master of Arts, Liberal Studies from Excelsior College in Albany, New York with a concentration in Philosophy and Religious Studies. He is presently working on his second masters degree, this time in Pastoral Theology at St. Joseph’s College in Standish, Maine.

John is a Secular Franciscan and maintains an active ministry in his Church. He serves as an Master of Liturgical Ceremonies, hospice spiritual minister, and presider at wake and grave-site services.

John serves on the Patient Engagement Council Board of Directors at the Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education, the Occupational Advisory Committee at the Career Technology Center of Lackawanna County, and the Board of Directors of Telespond Senior Services. He lives in Clarks Summit with his Wife, Rachel, and their Yorkie, Liza. He spends he free time reading, writing, playing with his nieces and nephews, and binge-watching “Star Trek” reruns.

Facebook: @johnbaldinoofs
Instagram: @johnbaldinoofs
Twitter: @johnbaldino
Linkedin: @johnbaldino
YouTube: @johnbaldino


Who is Nehemiah?

What do you do when obstacles and distractions block your path, or thwart your progress? Do you get discouraged? Not if you’re following in the footsteps of the Bible hero, Nehemiah. He trusted in the power of God and never stopped working. This is his story.

Watch out for the punks…


Pictures – The Past 12 Months of Planning

…and documentation of Fr. Jim’s ever growing baldness.


Anointed Lifeguards to Rebuild the Church, Rebuild the City

Anointed Lifeguards to Rebuild the Church, Rebuild the City, based on the Old Testament Book of Nehemiah, is the theme for Convo 2018.

The prophet and rebuilder Nehemiah exhibited strong leadership qualities all informed by and marked with a total faith commitment. These qualities were marshaled by God to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges. Nehemiah:

  • stood aware,
  • exhibited patience,
  • worked according to God’s timing,
  • pre-planned,
  • led, including by example,
  • delegated authority,
  • persevered through challenges,
  • remained steadfast, and
  • focused, prayed, worshiped, and disciplined.

Throughout Convo 2018 we will educate on Nehemiah’s leadership and inculcate in our youth a desire to lead and rebuild the Church. The fruit of rebuilding the Church will be the rebuilding of the communities in which the Church exists.

Our goal is to have Church youth take on measurable rebuilding efforts at the local, diocesan, and Church wide levels.