Meet The Staff


Fr. Patrick Baikauskas, OP

Director of Campus Ministry | fatherpatrick@boilercatholics.org

Father Patrick Baikauskas, OP was assigned to St. Thomas Aquinas in January of 2008 and became Pastor and Director of Campus Ministry in 2010. He was born the youngest of four boys in Crete, Illinois, a small town near the Indiana border. He has a BA in Political Science from Bradley University, and a history working in government under three Illinois governors. When he embraced God’s call to the priesthood in 2001, he was accepted to the Order of Preachers, the Dominicans and studied at the Aquinas Institute of Theology until 2007. Since beginning his Dominican life at St. Tom’s, he has seen the instigation of several new ministries.
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Fr. Cassian K. Sama, OP

Associate Pastor | frcassian@boilercatholics.org

Father Cassian, born in Kumba (Yaounde), in the Southwest Province of Cameroon, is one of six children of Dr. Joseph N. Sama and Veronica N. Nsom. He attended Bishop Rogan College, Buea, Cameroon, St. Bede’s College, Ashing, Kom, Cameroon, and received a bachelor’s degree in political science and public administration from the University of Swaziland in 1998. Fr. Cassian was awarded a master of arts degree in public administration in 2003 from Kansas State University. He professed religious vows as a member of the Order of Preachers in August 2005. From 2005-2011, he has studied theology at Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis, Missouri. Fr. Cassian was ordained in 2011 with his classmate, Fr. Joseph Minuth, OP.

Fr. Cassian comes to St. Tom’s from his first assignment as a priest at St. Paul Newman Center, Indiana University, in Bloomington, Indiana.

Fr. Timothy Combs, OP

Associate Pastor | timothy.op@boilercatholics.org

Fr. Timothy was born and raised in Kansas City, MO. He is the eldest of four children and is grateful to have received a devout, Catholic upbringing from his parents and extended family. In his Junior year of college at Truman State University, the Blessed Mother prevailed upon him to surrender his life to the Lord. This meant many things, including transferring to the seminary and drinking less beer. Upon graduating from Conception Seminary College in 2003, he entered the Dominican Order. After finishing theology studies at the Dominican Stadium in 2010, Fr. Timothy’s first three years of ministry were spent teaching theology at Fenwick High School in Oak Park, IL. Knowing how important faith formation was during his college years, Fr. Timothy is grateful for the opportunity to work in campus ministry and to do so with and among the wonderful resident parishioners at St. Tom’s.

Deacon Charles A. (Chuck) Jindrich

Ecumenical-Ministry and Marriage Preparation | deaconchuck@boilercatholics.org

Matthew J. Andrzejewski

Administrative Director | matthew@boilercatholics.org

Matthew was born in Muncie, IN and shortly after moved to his long-time home of Lafayette, IN. He studied Marketing and Management at Purdue University. He has served as a high school soccer coach and worked under the bishop doing data entry. These experiences well prepared him for his current position as the Administrative Director at St. Thomas Aquinas. Other qualifications for this role include piloting and scuba certifications, because in the service of God, one can never be too prepared. He has also had the opportunity to gain international perspective through participating in a mission trip to Haiti. If you visit his office, you may also meet his pet elephant (woodcarving) which he acquired while traveling in Thailand. In Matthew’s spare time, he enjoys brewing root beer, which occasionally makes an appearance at events such as Kegaroke. He also has an appreciation for the great outdoors and camping. If you have any questions, concerns, or needs, he is more than happy to assist you!

Mari Arthur

Development Assistant and Administrative Assistant | mari@boilercatholics.org

My name is Mari Arthur, and I am the Development Assistant and Administrative Assistant at St. Tom’s. I completed my Associate’s Degree in Office Administration at Ivy Tech in May of 2011. I have been attending St. Tom’s since 1999. I began by volunteering in the summer of 2007, and I have worked here since January of 2010. I am very happy to be a part of the St. Tom’s staff and community. Please let me know how I can be of assistance to you!

Brad Bodine, DMA

Music Coordinator | musicman@boilercatholics.org

G. Bradley Bodine (b. 1960) holds degrees from The Evergreen State College, Pacific Lutheran University and the University of Arizona. He has been the recipient of numerous awards and commissions, including his most recent commission from a consortium of 11 university/college percussion ensembles. Major ensembles and virtuoso performers regularly perform Dr. Bodine’s music. His compositions have been performed at major music festivals throughout the United States and in Europe. His latest composition, “Kaleidoscope: A Concerto for Marimba and Orchestra” was recorded by the Portuguese marimbist, Pedro Carneiro with Gerard Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony and was released in 2009. G. Bradley Bodine is the Composer in Residence at both the Saint Thomas Aquinas Catholic Center at Purdue, the Lafayette Symphony Orchestra as well as a Continuing Lecturer of music theory at Purdue University.

Dee Bernhardt

Assistant Director of Campus Ministry | dee@boilercatholics.org

Dee Bernhardt joined St. Tom’s staff in August 2012. Over the past five years, she has worked with students, faculty, staff and residents to establish leadership teams of authentic disciples for campus ministry at Purdue. Dee believes in the empowerment of communities of disciples who can facilitate encounters with Christ in higher education through creative programming. Before arriving here, Dee has coordinated campus ministry at an urban, commuter cluster; several mid-sized state colleges with Newman Centers; a small, residential Catholic college; an ecumenical center; and a university parish. Dee holds a Master of Science in Religious Education degree from Marywood College and a Master of Arts in Christian Spirituality degree from Creighton University. She holds professional certifications in Campus Ministry from the USCCB/CCMA and in Spiritual Direction/Directed Retreats from Creighton University. In January 2011, Dee was awarded the CCMA Forsyth Award, the most prestigious award given for campus ministry leadership in the United States. In April, 2013, Hallahan High School in Philadelphia, PA, inducted her into the Hall of Fame for excellence in the Humanities.

Grant Freeman

Assistant Director of Campus Ministry | grant@boilercatholics.org

Grant Freeman, born and raised in Montana, is the eldest of five children and a lover of the great outdoors. He is deeply indebted to his parents, grandparents, and teachers for his education at Gregory the Great Academy and Christendom College where he studied History, Philosophy, and Theology. Grant started out in Manassas, Virginia, as the administrative manager for a company that specialized in luxury Italian footwear and commercial real estate. Following his passion for service, he became the director of youth formation at St. Boniface in Lafayette, Indiana, in 2006. He has since been privileged to teach theology at St. Theodore Guerin High School in Noblesville, Indiana, and serve as the head of the theology department and director of campus ministry for Central Catholic Jr./Sr. High School in Lafayette, Indiana. Grant joined the staff of St. Thomas Aquinas, the Catholic Center at Purdue, in July of 2014. His focus here is to assist in the cultivation of a vibrant Catholic culture that encourages Purdue students to discern how God is calling them to flourish.

Grant and his wife, Claire, have four children, Helen, James, Roland, and Beatrice. He enjoys hunting, fishing, home improvement projects, singing with his children, and deep conversations with his wife.

Eileen Strater

Director of Adult Formation | eileen@boilercatholics.org

I am the middle child with 4 siblings, a native of California, but growing up in several different states, including Pennsylvania, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Indiana. I earned a B.S. in Restaurant, Hotel and Institutional Management from Purdue in 1979, and subsequently worked as an administrator in the Purdue Residence Hall System for 18 years. My husband of 40 years also earned degrees from Purdue (we met at Cary Quadrangle), and our two grown children have also attended Purdue. My husband, Roger, works for Purdue in the library system, and our daughter is employed with the university after earning her bachelor’s degree—all of this makes us truly a “Purdue Family.” There is no doubt in any of our minds that our grandson Christopher will also be attending Purdue in about 3 years. Roger and I love to travel to Florida—especially during the Indiana winters—where we enjoy camping (a passion with both of us), and kayaking in the Gulf of Mexico. We also spend a lot of time snorkeling and biking while we are there. When we are at home, my favorite activities include reading, knitting, weaving and gardening. As the Director of Adult Formation with St. Thomas Aquinas, I am involved in many different areas. My primary responsibilities include coordinating the RCIA process for those individuals interested in joining the Catholic Church, as well as planning and implementing various opportunities for adult faith formation. I also coordinate the baptism preparation process, and schedule baptisms. Marriage preparation is another ministry that I am heavily involved with, and I work primarily with engaged couples who are planning to be married outside of St. Tom’s. All of these ministries allow me the pleasure of working closely with both student and resident parishioners of St. Tom’s, which is truly a blessing.

John Strong

Director of Religious Education and Youth Ministry | john@boilercatholics.org

John was born and raised in Lafayette, IN. Being the product of the Lafayette Catholic School system, he was educated in the Faith during his most formative years. After his graduation from Lafayette Central Catholic in 2008, John attended Purdue University, where he majored in Political Science and earned minors in History and Philosophy. While discerning God’s will in his life, he entered seminary formation at Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary in 2013 and received the best education that the Church can offer. After three years in the seminary, John earned a Master’s Degree in Philosophy, but ultimately felt the tug of his heart away from seminary formation and back to his home in Lafayette. Upon returning home, John began working at various schools around the Lafayette area. Ultimately, however, he was hired at St. Thomas Aquinas as the Director of Religious Education and Youth Ministry. He considers himself very blessed to be a part of this community, and he looks forward to his future here. If you see him around town, he might be swing dancing, playing his guitar, or having a passionate conversation about something going on in the world. If you ever feel like stopping by St. Tom’s, there’s always a seat in John’s office to discuss our Faith, things going on in the world, or just simply how your day has been. Finally, as John continues with the Lord’s work here, he asks for your prayers as he continues to “spend himself in the vineyard of the Lord.”

Gabe Vitale

Director of Religious Education | gabe@boilercatholics.org

Andrea Waclawek

Echo Apprentice | andrea@boilercatholics.org

Andrea Waclawek was born and raised in the beautiful Cambria, NY, about twenty minutes from a roaring wonder of the world (Niagara Falls!). She attended Denison University, a small liberal arts college outside of Columbus, Ohio, where she majored in Religion and minored in Psychology and Educational Studies. Before beginning graduate work, she spent some time teaching freshmen religion and volunteering at Casa Juan Diego, a Catholic Worker in Houston, TX. Currently, she is a part of the University of Notre Dame’s Echo program, a two-year graduate program involving pursuit of a M.A. in Theology, service to the Church, integrative formation, and intentional community living. Basically, she is living the dream- studying theology, working in ministry, and living alongside two amazing women of faith. She will be at St. Tom’s for the next two years, with the exception of the summertime when she is inundated with theology courses back at Notre Dame (a comparable experience would be trying to drink from a fire hose). Her work includes general campus ministry involvement with a particular emphasis on outreach to international students, and she feels incredibly blessed to be walking alongside and serving students here!

Dr. Thomas Ryba

Theologian-in-Residence | methexis@boilercatholics.org

Dr. Thomas Ryba is Notre Dame Theologian-in-Residence at the Saint Thomas Aquinas Catholic Center and Continuing Lecturer in Philosophy and Religious Studies at Purdue University. Dr. Ryba did his undergraduate work in philosophy (Honors MA, 1975) and anthropology and his graduate work in the history and literature of religions at Northwestern University (MA, 1982; PHD, 1986). His primary interests are systematic theology, the history of ideas, and the historical relations between theology, religion, philosophy, science, and ideology. Dr. Ryba is the author of The Essence of Phenomenology and Its Meaning for the Scientific Study of Religion (1991) and over fifty articles on theology, philosophical theology, theories of religion, and cinema. He is also principal editor and contributor to The Comity and Grace of Method (2004), one of the contributors to Revelation: Catholic and Muslim Perspectives (2006), co-editor with Sandor Goodhart of For René Girard: Essays in Friendship and in Truth (2008) and co-editor with Vern Redekop and contributor to: René Girard and Creative Mimesis (2014) and René Girard and Creative Reconciliation (2014). He is also presently at work on two books: The Optics of the Antichrist and a textbook, The Abrahamic Traditions: A Significant Structures Approach (forthcoming, autumn, 2015). A member of the editorial board of Religion since 1991, he was North American Editor of from 2004-2007. He is also on the editorial Boards of Humanitas, Phenomenological Inquiry, Agathos, and between 2008 and 2011, he was Vice President of the World Phenomenology Institute. He has just been added to the newly re-constituted editorial board of the Analecta Husserliana (2014) and to the scientific board of a series on the philosophy of A.-T. Tymieniecka to be published by the Italian book house, Morcelliana (2014). Dr. Ryba was the recipient of a Templeton Foundation grant in 1999 for his course “Homologies and Heterologies in the Development of Theology and Science,” and in 2006 received a Metanexus Foundation Grant to found a society for Science and Religion dialogue at Purdue University. Dr. Ryba has been Theologian in Residence at the St. Thomas Aquinas Center since 1990.

Ryba lives in West Lafayette, Indiana, with his wife, Christine Mary, and his mother in law, Rosemary.