Board of Trustees
Father Peter F. Vasko, a native New Yorker, entered the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land in 1981, after a ten-year career in marketing and public relations. Fr. Peter attended The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where he majored in philosophy and theology. He later attended Duke University in North Carolina for graduate studies in anthropology and received additional training in archaeology at the Franciscan Stadium Biblicum in Jerusalem.
Fr. Peter was ordained to the deaconate in Jerusalem and, in 1987 was ordained to the priesthood in Washington, DC. Prior to his seminary training, he was a member of the Jaycees, Rotary International and the Public Relations Society of America. He is a former member of the St. Ives Society, an organization assisting in the civil rights of Palestinian people.
Fr. Peter has served four consecutive terms on the governing board of the Franciscan Custody in the Holy Land which represents six Middle East countries. He served on both the Custody’s Finance and Sanctuary Boards and was formerly editor of the Holy Land Review, a quarterly archaeological, biblical and historical overview of the Holy Land.
Actively involved in the international diplomatic community in Jerusalem, Fr. Peter serves as a liaison and guide for the White House through the U.S. Embassy, as well as with the municipality of Jerusalem. He serves as Chaplain for the U.S. Marine Security Guard for the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem. In 2008, Fr. Peter was bestowed the prestigious recognition of “Honorary Marine’ by the former Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, General James T. Conway, USMC. The ceremony was held at the Pentagon in Washington D.C.
Presently, Fr. Peter is President of the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land, an organization created to provide a worldwide voice for Christians living in the Holy Land and to ensure the continued Christian presence in the area.
With extensive live interview experience for both secular and religious media, Fr. Peter has developed a reputation as a skilled and versatile communicator. He is a compelling spokesman and public speaker, who has addressed many Catholic organizations including Legatus International, Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulchre, Knights of Columbus, and Serra Club. Fr. Peter has appeared on several television specials about the Holy Land that were aired on Discovery Channel, BBC, NBC and CBS and many national radio talk shows. He has been a guest on EWTN’s “Mother Angelica Live” and “The World Over” on numerous occasions. He has also appeared on The 700 Club to address issues concerning the Christian exodus in the Holy Land and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He was named one of the “Top Ten People in the Catholic Church” in the January 2006 issue of “Inside the Vatican” magazine.
He is the author of “See the Holy Land”, a photo essay of Israel/Palestine and has just finished a new second edition named ” Our Visit to the Holy Land”. In addition, he has also completed a 75-minute video about the Holy Land, entitled “On the Road to Christ.” Fr. Peter was also instrumental in the production of “Turning Point: Crisis in the Holy Land,” a television video documentary about the Christian exodus from the Holy Land, and was narrator for the video, “The Life of Jesus: a Scriptural Journey in the Holy Land.” He also co-produced a ten-part mini television series for EWTN entitled ‘THE HOLY LAND WITH FR. PETER F. VASKO, OFM’. His speaking engagements on the Middle East and the Holy Land have taken him to Europe, Africa and throughout the United States.
Fr. Francesco Patton was born in Vigo Meano in the diocese of Trent on December 23rd, 1963. He belongs to the Franciscan Province of St. Anthony in Italy. He is fluent in English and Spanish, besides his native Italian.
He made his first religious profession on September 7th 1983 and his solemn profession on October 4th, 1986; then was ordained to the ministerial priesthood on May 26th, 1989. In 1993 he earned a Licentiate in Communication Sciences at the Pontifical Salesian University in Rome.
He served in various capacities in his province and also within the Order. He was twice Secretary General of the General Chapters in 2003 and 2009; Visitator General in 2003, Minister Provincial of St. Vigilium (Trent, Italy) from 2008 to 2016; President of the Conference of Provincial Ministers of Italy and Albania (COMPI)
He also served in many capacities outside of the Order: as member of the Diocesan Presbyteral Council and secretary of the Diocesan Pastoral Council of the archdiocese of Trent; professor of Social Communications at the Studio Teologico Accademico Tridentino; collaborator of the Diocesan Weekly, the Diocesan Radio and Telepace Trento; and enrolled with the journalists of Trentino-Alto Adige as publicist since 1991.
Apostolic Nuncio to the United States
Archbishop Christophe Pierre was born on January 30, 1946 in Rennes, France. He competed his primary education in Antisirabé, Madagascar, and his secondary schooling in Saint-Malo, France, and in Marrakech, Morocco. He attended the Major Seminary of the Archdiocese of Rennes (1963-1969) and the Catholic Institute of Paris (1969-1971).
He did the Military Service from July, 1965, to October, 1966. Was ordained priest on April 5, 1970, in Saint-Malo, France and incardinated in the Archdiocese of Rennes. He has been Parochial Vicar of the St. Peter and St. Paul Parish in Colombes, Diocese of Nanterre, France (1970-1973).
He has a Master in Sacred Theology (Paris, 1971) and a Doctorate in Canon Law from the Pontifical Lateran University, Rome (1973-1977).
He completed his studies at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, in Rome (1973-1977), and started his service in the Diplomatic Corps of the Holy See on March 5, 1977.
He was appointed first to the Pontifical Representation in New Zealand and the Islands of the Pacific Ocean (1977-1981). Subsequently he served in Mozambique (1981); in Zimbabwe (1982-1986); in Cuba (1986-1989); in Brazil (1989-1991); at the Permanent Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland (1991-1995).
He was elected Titular Archbishop of Gunela on July 12, 1995, and received the Episcopal Consecration on September 24, 1995, in Saint-Malo, France.
Archbishop Christophe Pierre was appointed Apostolic Nuncio to Haiti, on July 12, 1995, where he served until 1999. He has been the Papal Representative to Uganda (1999- 2007) and to Mexico (2007-2016). On April 12, 2016 His Holiness Pope Francis appointed him Apostolic Nuncio to the United States of America.
Archbishop Pierre speaks French, Italian, English, Spanish and Portuguese.
Denise Marie Scalzo is a lay Franciscan and founding member of the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land, a worldwide organization that provides programs and projects supporting the human rights of the Christian minority living in the Holy Land. For over 25 years, she has served the “Custodia di Terra Santa” headquartered in Jerusalem, working with religious communities, cardinals, bishops and priests in addressing the needs of the poor in the United States, Latin America and the Middle East. Denise Marie is a council member of the Western Lieutenancy of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, a Board member of the Pope Leo XIII Institute (an institute that trains/formation of priests as exorcists), a board member of St. John Paul II Institute for Healing and Deliverance (an institute that trains/formation of physicians /priests /prayer teams) and is a recipient of the Papal Award: Pope Leo XIII Gold Cross of Honor for her many years of work in the Holy Land.An international speaker on the Holy Land. She has authored seven volumes of “Love Letters From Gethsemane”. She previously worked as an executive in the television and biomedical research and healthcare industries. She currently consults. A mother of one daughter and two grandchildren (she considers this the greatest honor bestowed upon her), Denise Marie resides in San Diego, California.
Jay is happily married to Monica Lynch Lynagh. Together, they have four children and nine grandchildren. Monica was born in Ireland and she immigrated to the United States in 1974. Jay and Monica both come from large Irish Catholic families.
Jay was born in Washington, DC. In 1949. From the age of two, he was raised in suburban Maryland. He attended Catholic School through twelfth grade, graduating from St. Anthony’s High School in Washington, DC in 1967. He worked part time at the Franciscan Monastery (1965-1969) and attended the University of Maryland. Jay enlisted in the United States Navy in 1969 serving four years as a communicator shore and afloat. Jay graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1975 from the University of Maryland. Subsequently, he acquired an Associates in Arts degree from Montgomery College in computer science to augment his career in computer systems and technology.
Karen was raised in upstate New York where she earned a B.S. from New York State University and an M.S. from Union College in Schenectady. Later she relocated to Atlanta where she entered the field of Real Estate. She has lived in Atlanta for over 30 years. During that time she has been a member of the Junior League of the Atlanta Symphony, has been involved with the matrons of Tallah Falls School (A Georgian school for less privileged children), has been a volunteer at St. Joseph’s Hospital, and has been a volunteer for the American Cancer Society. She has been instrumental in organizing a Charismatic Prayer group and the legion of Mary in her parish. Karen is a Eucharistic Minister and a Lady Commander of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. She is very involved in the healing ministry and has been a regional representative of the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land since 1995. She has been a Board Member since 2002.
Eugene J. Alfonsi has an extensive business background spanning a forty year career. Mr. Alfonsi has served as an executive and also principle in the distribution, real estate development and health care industries. He has also served as a director/trustee/member on several non-profit and private sector boards including several Catholic organizations.
Mr. Alfonsi is currently president and co-owner of Braxton Health Care and Rehabilitation Center. He and his wife, Judith, reside in Dublin, OH and are the parents of 5 grown children.
Raymond Arroyo is an internationally known, award-winning journalist. Mr. Arroyo established EWTNews in 1996, creating several programs including: Newslink; Newsline; and the weekly international news magazine, The World Over Live. Mr. Arroyo is also responsible for EWTN’s live coverage of news events around the globe. Additionally, he has written and produced numerous documentaries and special programs; including the award-winning documentary: “Path of The Messiah” shot entirely in the Middle East.
In addition to his work at EWTN, Mr. Arroyo has appeared on “The Today Show”, “CNN Headline News”, “Access Hollywood”, “Capitol Gang”, “Deborah Norville Tonight”, “Scarborough Country”, and other national programs. His writings have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times, The Financial Times, National Review, Our Sunday Visitor, and elsewhere. Mr. Arroyo resides in New Orleans with his wife Rebecca and his sons, Alexander and Lorenzo.
Kathy Assaf graduated from the University of Central Florida in 1970 with a BS in Business Administration. She has been married to Ron for 34 years and they have five children and 10 grandchildren, both she and her husband were invested into the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre in 2010 and have made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with Fr. Peter Vasko.
- 1970-1974 – Arthur Young & Co. Senior Auditor
- 1974-1984 – Sensormatic Electronics
- Manager in Finance Dept.
- Director of International Services Dept.
- Director of Special Projects.
- 1984-1992 – Boca Bank, Member of Board of Directors,
- 1993-1995 – Boca Bank, Chairman of the Board
- 1995-1996 – Intercontinental Bank, Member of Board of Directors
Past Chairmanship Positions:
- The American College at the Catholic University at Louvain, Belgium: 2001-2009 Chairman of the Advisory Board, served on Board for 17 years, and chaired its 2001 Tradition with a Vision Campaign;
- St. Bernadette Church – Advance Gifts Chairman for Building Campaign.
- Diocese of Palm Beach Annual Bishop’s Appeal;
- Children’s Museum Gala
- St. Jude Church Building Drive
- Diocese of Palm Beach New Beginnings Campaign and two Lumen Christi Galas
Will Hartnett was Valedictorian of his class at Cistercian Prep. School in Irving, Texas; graduated cum laude from Harvard University in 1978; and received his JD from the University of Texas.
Will is a partner in The Hartnett Law Firm, a firm which specializes in estate and trust administration and litigation. He is board certified in Estate Planning and Probate Law, is a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, and has been listed in “The Best Lawyers in America” since 2003.
He served in the Texas House of Representatives from 1991 to 2013, including 14 years as Chairman or Vice-Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. He also served on the Appropriations, Ways and Means, and Transportation Committees.
He and his wife Tammy have three sons and reside in Dallas, TX.
“Jimmy” was born and raised in Washington, DC where he currently resides with his wife and two children. He graduated from Lawrenceville School in 1985, and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Denison University in 1989. After a brief stint of working on Capitol Hill, he transitioned from politics to the private sector by entering the Financial Services industry in 1993. Jimmy has served the past ten years as a Principal and Financial Advisor with Brown Advisory Securities, LLC, and prior to that, he spent ten years with Prudential Securities.
Jimmy has served on the Board of The Woodrow Wilson House, which is a privately funded, non-profit corporation and a property of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. In addition, he just completed his five year term on the Board of the Metropolitan Club of the City of Washington, where he served as Vice President and Chair of the Audit Committee. He is presently serving on the Immaculate Conception Church Sesquicentennial Restoration Committee.
Bishop Dewane was born in 1950, of devout Irish-Catholics. He attended the University of Wisconsin where he earned a B.S. in Social Sciences. He then earned a M.A. in International Administration from The American University. After graduation, Bishop Dewane worked for NBC and PepsiCo.
Bishop Dewane began his studies for the priesthood at Notre Dame University, completing his studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. In 1988, Bishop Dewane was ordained and appointed to the Diocese of Green Bay as an assistant pastor. He also worked for the diocesan Tribunal.
In 1991 Bishop Dewane became a delegate for the Vatican as a member of the Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations. Bishop Dewane currently serves on the U. S. Catholic Conference of Bishops. On July 25, 2006 Bishop Frank J. Dewane was installed as bishop of the Diocese of Venice in Florida.
Jim Cornelius is the recently retired Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Bristol-Myers Squibb, the specialty biopharmaceutical company headquartered in New York City. Jim still serves as Board Chairman of Mead Johnson Nutrition, a global leader in infant and children’s nutritional products headquartered in Chicago. He previously had a productive 28 year career with Eli Lilly and Company in Indianapolis, retiring from the Board of Directors and as CFO in 1995.
Born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, he attended Michigan State University earning both a BA in accounting (Magna cum Laude) and an MBA degree. He served on active duty as a Lieutenant in the US Army Finance Corps, where he met his wife, Kathy, who is an award winning Indiana artist. They are long-time residents of Zionsville, Indiana with two adult children, Andrew in NYC and Lindsay, who lives nearby in Zionsville.
Mr. Cornelius has received honorary Doctorate degrees to recognize his civic and philanthropic activities from Michigan State University, the University of Indianapolis and Marian University. He received the Anti-Defamation League’s 2003 Man of Achievement Award, the 2005 Hoosier Heritage Lifetime Achievement Award, the Boys & Girls Club 2007 Outstanding CEO Award, and was honored as New Alternative’s for Children, Man of the Year, in October, 2014. The family conducts its philanthropic activities through the Cornelius Family Foundation (Indianapolis).
Jim stays active with investments in several local life science start-ups and mentoring of younger management talent. The family has been avid football fans and season ticket holders of the Indianapolis Colts since 1984.
Cardinal Dolan was ordained to the priesthood in 1976 and served as associate pastor in Richmond Heights, MO. until 1979 when he began graduate studies in American Church History at the Catholic University of America.
On his return to St. Louis, he served in parish ministry from 1983-87, during which time he was also liaison for the late Archbishop John L. May. In 1987 Archbishop Dolan was appointed to a five-year term as secretary to the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, D.C. When he returned to St. Louis in 1992, he was appointed vice rector of Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, serving also as director of Spiritual Formation and professor of Church History.
On June 19, 2001 Fr. Dolan was named the Auxiliary Bishop of St. Louis by Pope John Paul II. He was named Archbishop of Milwaukee by His Holiness in June, 2002 and installed as Milwaukee’s 10th archbishop in August where he served until he was appointed Archbishop of New York by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI in February, 2009.
Julie Nackard is the Executive Vice President of The Nackard Companies, which provide beverage production and distribution, vending services and snack distribution throughout rural Arizona. Having graduated from Northern Arizona University with a Bachelor of Science in Business with an emphasis in Marketing and Data Processing, Julie has worked in the beverage industry since 1979. She began her time in the industry as a sales person, and has experience in all aspects of administration and management. She was responsible for the implementation of computer systems at The Nackard Companies, and oversaw the development of the companies’ website and social media presence. She and her husband, Patrick, have been married for more than 35 years and have two grown children – Palmer Michael and Monica Jewel.
Julie is active in a variety of local and national charities, including the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, where she serves as a Councillor for the Western Lieutenancy in the Diocese of Phoenix. She is a member of the Cabinet of the Diocese of Phoenix Bishop’s Capital Campaign, and also sponsors a Jordanian seminarian in the Adopt-a-Seminarian program. Julie has pilgrimaged to the Holy Land on three occasions – in 2009, 2012, and 2016.
Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1978. After ordination, he studied law at DePaul University and was admitted to the Illinois Bar in 1981.
Father Paprocki was appointed Chancellor in March, 1992, under Cardinal Bernardin where he is still retained by Cardinal George. Pope John Paul II appointed him to serve as Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago in 2003. Bishop Paprocki also serves as the Cardinal’s Liaison for Health and Hospital Affairs in the Archdiocese of Chicago and as Vice-President of the Illinois Catholic Health Association. He is Adjunct Professor of Law at Loyola University Chicago and Chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance. In January 2008, Bishop Paprocki was elected Vice-Chairman of the John Paul II Foundation in Rome. Bishop Paprocki’s hobbies are reading, running and playing hockey.
Susan is a 5th generation Texan, co-founder of the Cardinal Mindszenty Foundation of Texas whose purpose is to provide reliable information on the secular attacks on faith and family values, uphold the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church and expose persecutions and abuses of human rights around the globe through annual conferences featuring national and international speakers. For over forty years she has served on over 100 charitable, cultural and educational boards in California, Morocco, Spain, South Carolina, and Texas. Since 1994 she has served as Regional Representative of the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land and chaired two benefit dinners for the Foundation. She is also a Lady Grand Cross of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. Mrs. Stanzel has been a Board Member since 2002.
Joyce K. S. Babiak holds a Bachelor and Masters of Science, and a Doctorate in Business. She is a business founder, president, and CEO. Dr. Babiak retired from the Air Force, having served in many executive roles in science and technology during her career. She earned the honorific title of Dame Commander with Star in the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, and has been a member of the order since 2007. Dr. Babiak received the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice honor from Pope Francis in October 2017 – the highest award a layperson can receive from the Catholic Church. Dr. Babiak is extremely active in her local parish church and community, serving in multiple leadership roles for decades.
Following her retirement from the Air Force, she worked as Co-founder and Director of SKYLET, Inc. Currently she is serving as the organization’s President and Chief Executive Officer, providing executive management services in support of various government agencies, commercial and academic interests and short-term position trading on equities.