Meet The Staff


Father Thomas McDermott, OP

Father Tom became our pastor on July 1, 2020. Growing up in northeastern Nebraska and after graduating from St. John’s University in Collegeville, MN, he entered the Dominicans in 1977. His novitiate year was in Denver, and his studentate years were spent in Dubuque, IA, and St. Louis, MO, where he was ordained in 1983.

Father Tom’s first assignment in Lagos, Nigeria lasted 18 years in various capacities, including parochial vicar, pastor, prior, and prior provincial. Studying at the Angelicum in Rome, Father Tom received a doctorate in spiritual theology in 2005 with his dissertation on Catherine of Siena. After 22 years abroad, Father Tom returned to the States to teach at Aquinas Institute of Theology and Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, eventually serving as its director of spiritual formation. In 2012, Father Tom became pastor of St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church in River Forest, IL where he also serves as a Catholic chaplain at the Cook County Jail. He is a writer and editor of several books about Catherine of Siena and author of an introduction to Catholic spirituality book titled “Filled with All the Fullness of God.” His hobbies include reading, history, and beekeeping.

Father Tom’s first encounter with Purdue University was attendance at a campus conference as a high school student, and his closest Boilermaker connection is Varro Tyler, his mother’s cousin, who served Purdue as the dean of the School of Pharmacy, Nursing and Health Sciences; executive vice president for academic affairs; and then Lilly Distinguished Professor of Pharmacognosy until his retirement in 1996.

Father Michail Ford, OP

Associate Pastor | frmike@boilercatholics.org

Father Mike is a graduate of the University of Central Missouri; took his vows in August 2004; and was ordained in May 2010 following completion of a Master’s and Master of Divinity in Theology/Theological Studies from Aquinas Institute of Theology. He previously served as an associate pastor at St. Tom’s from 2010 to 2013 and then as director of the Dominican Shrine of St. Jude Thadde, Dominican Province of St. Albert the Great, Central Province of the United States. Father Mike rejoined St. Tom’s as an associate pastor in July 2020. He is the editor of “Handbook for the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary” (2014) and has focused studies on the Saints, St. Jude, and devotions/rosary.

Father Chris Saliga, OP, RN

Associate Pastor | frchris@boilercatholics.org

Father Chris came to St. Tom’s in July 2020 from Denver, Co. where he served as parochial vicar for St. Dominic Church and expeditionary chaplain in support of COR Expeditions. Father Chris grew up in Whiting, Indiana, and was ordained a Dominican priest in 2005. His initial assignment was as a health care chaplain and ethicist with The Dominican Friars Health Care Ministry of New York at New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center and Hospital for Special Surgery. While in New York, he also served part-time in the Catholic Campus Ministry at Columbia University.

 He has since served as an Associate Chaplain at the Saint John Paul II Newman Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago where he also served as interim director of The Integritas Institute for Ethics; university chaplain and adjunct professor in bioethics at Walsh University; associate chaplain of Aquinas House at Dartmouth College with outreach to Medical Students. He has also served in Kisumu, Kenya in various capacities.

Father Chris is an alumnus of The Franciscan University of Steubenville’s Department of Nursing and The Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception. Prior to joining the Dominican Order, Father Chris served as a United States Army combat medic and paratrooper, and later as a United States Navy Nurse Corps officer within Naval and Marine Corps contexts. Upon completion of his active military service, Father Chris returned to The Franciscan University of Steubenville where he served as a clinical nursing instructor until he entered the Dominican Order in 1998.

Fr. Brent Bowen, OP

Associate Pastor | frbrent@boilercatholics.org

Fr. Brent was born and raised in Lewiston, Maine. He attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida, earning a bachelor’s degree in air traffic management and a master of business administration degree in aviation. He entered the Order of Preachers in 2012 and made his first profession of vows in 2013. He then attended Aquinas Institute of Theology, earning a MA in Theology and a Master of Divinity. He was ordained to the priesthood in May 2019. When not working, Fr. Brent enjoys movies, baking bread, and brewing beer.

Dcn. Dan Finn

Born in Rhode Island, Deacon Dan grew up in West Lafayette and is a graduate of both West Lafayette Senior High School and Purdue University. As a Boilermaker, Dcn. Dan studied Industrial Management in the Krannert School of Management; sang in the Purdue Glee Club; and was President Pro Tempore of the Student Senate, a member of Theta Chi fraternity, and an active member of St. Tom’s.

Initially working for trade associations in the Washington, DC area, Dcn. Dan joined Marriott International and served within the areas of information technology, training and development, change management and project management.  He has been a guest lecturer for Purdue’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management for more than 20 years.

Deacon Dan completed his career as the Executive Director of Human Resources for the Archdiocese of Washington and was ordained a Deacon in 2010.  He and his wife Georgana have six children and 14 grandchildren and love camping and international travel. Dan enjoys golfing and is always looking for someone to accompany him on an outing.  

Both Dcn. Dan and Georgana are thrilled to serve at St. Toms as his Diaconate Parish Ministry and to support the Diocese of Lafayette Office of Planning, including supporting Uniting in Heart, as his Diocesan Ministry. Dan’s favorite Bible verse is “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations.”  Matthew 28:19

Mari Gmyrek

Development Assistant | mari@boilercatholics.org

Mari has been attending St. Tom’s since 1999She completed her Associate’s Degree in Office Administration at Ivy Tech. She began volunteering for the church 2007 and became a staff member in January of 2010. She serves St. Tom’s as the Development Assistant and Administrative Assistant. She is very happy to be a part of the St. Tom’s staff and community. Please let her know how She can be of assistance to you! She recently got married last summer and had a fabulous time on her honeymoon in Cancun!!

Brad Bodine, DMA

Music Director | musicman@boilercatholics.org

Bradley Bodine holds degrees from The Evergreen State College, Pacific Lutheran University and the University of Arizona. He is the composer-in-residence for St. Tom’s and for the Lafayette Symphony Orchestra and is a continuing lecturer of music theory at Purdue University.

Brad is the recipient of numerous awards and commissions, including one from a consortium of 11 university/college percussion ensembles. Major ensembles and virtuoso performers regularly perform his music, and his compositions have been performed at major music festivals throughout the United States and in Europe.

Dee Bernhardt

Assistant Director of Campus Ministry | dee@boilercatholics.org

Dee Bernhardt joined St. Tom’s staff in August 2012. She works with students, faculty, staff and residents to establish leadership teams of authentic disciples for campus ministry at Purdue. She believes in the empowerment of communities of disciples who can facilitate encounters with Christ in higher education through creative programming. 

Prior to St. Tom’s, Dee coordinated campus ministry in many settings, including an urban, commuter cluster, several mid-sized state colleges with Newman Centers, a residential Catholic college, an ecumenical center, and a university parish. Dee holds master’s degrees in religious education from Marywood College and Christian spirituality from Creighton University. She also holds a certification in campus ministry from the USCCB/CCMA and in spiritual direction/directed retreats from Creighton University. Dee is a recipient of the CCMA Forsyth Award, the highest award given for campus ministry leadership in the United States. In 2013, Hallahan High School in Philadelphia, PA, inducted her into the Hall of Fame for excellence in the Humanities.

Grant Freeman

Director of Evangelization | 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, Christendom College and Divine Mercy University where he studied history, philosophy, theology, and ultimately earned a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling. 

Grant started his career in Manassas, Virginia, as the administrative manager for an international 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 2006. He also taught theology at St. Theodore Guerin High School in Noblesville and served as the head of the theology department and director of campus ministry for Central Catholic Jr./Sr. High School. Grant joined St. Tom’s in July 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 five children — Helen, James, Roland, Beatrice, and Felicity. He enjoys hunting, fishing, home improvement projects, singing with his children, and deep conversations with his wife.

Mary King

Director of Communications and Alumni Relations | maryking@boilercatholics.org

Mary King joined the St. Tom’s staff in February 2020. She is a graduate of both Purdue University and the IU McKinney School of Law and has spent her full career working in higher education marketing communications at three Indiana institutions. An employee of Purdue University for 17 years, she was most recently senior director for marketing operations and brand management and officially retired in 2020. Mary and her husband Scott live a short walk down the hill to Mary Lou Doughnuts (which exercises their will power) and thoroughly enjoy the serenity of the woods in their city home along with their slightly neurotic German Shepherd Grizleah. They have four children – all who have flown the nest and the two youngest will complete their studies at Purdue in spring 2021. Mary is very excited about the opportunity to work for the parish where she is a member and that has given so much to her family; to develop a deeper connection to the St. Tom’s community; and to use her experiences to support the St. Tom’s ministries and foster engagement among the St Tom’s parish, its alumni, and our communities both near and far.

Martin Schap

Director of Operations | martin@boilercatholics.org

Martin joined St. Tom’s in August 2019 as its director of operations. As the title suggests, he is responsible for overseeing all of the office administrative and facilities management activities for St. Tom’s. 

Martin earned his bachelor’s degree in English language and literature/letters from Wabash College. Prior to St. Tom’s, he served as an admissions counselor for Wabash College and an academic advisor for Ivy Tech Community College as well as an associate for Thrivent Financial, a case manager for Wabash Valley Hospital and an interventionist for Lafayette Catholic School System. 

Martin Schap was raised in downtown Lafayette, where he still lives with his beautiful wife and four (soon to be five) beautiful daughters. 

Eileen Strater

Marriage Preparation | eileen@boilercatholics.org

Eileen recently retired after 22 years as St. Tom’s director of religious formation, but still serves the ministry of marriage preparation for parishioners who are not having their marriage ceremony at St. Tom’s.

Eileen is the middle child of four siblings and a native of California who has lived in Pennsylvania, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Indiana. She earned her bachelor’s degree in restaurant, hotel and tourism management (HTM) from Purdue in 1979 and then worked as an administrator in the Purdue Residence Hall System for 18 years before joining St. Tom’s. 

A true Boilermaker family, She and her husband of 40+ years (also a Purdue retiree) have two grown children who also attended Purdue.  

John Strong

Director of Parish Faith Formation | john@boilercatholics.org

John was born and raised in Lafayette and graduated from Lafayette Central Catholic in 2008. He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science with minors in history and philosophy from Purdue. While discerning God’s will in his life, he entered seminary formation at Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary in 2013 and earned a master’s degree in philosophy. He ultimately felt the tug of his heart away from seminary formation and back to his home in Lafayette. 

John has worked at various schools around the Lafayette area prior to joining St. Tom’s initially as its director of religious education and youth ministry. He considers himself very blessed to be a part of the community, and says that there is always a seat in his office to discuss our Faith, things going on in the world, or just simply to find out how your day has been. John and his wife Katheryne recently welcomed their first son Dominic to the world.

Carolyn McKinnis

Coordinator of Parish Faith Formation | carolyn@boilercatholics.org

Carolyn was born and raised in Tippecanoe County, where family ties run deep. She attributes her strong Catholic upbringing to her educational experience and her parents who taught her and her siblings about family prayer AND community prayer. 

Carolyn earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and an associate’s degree in organizational leadership and supervision (OLS) from Purdue. She and her husband Phil have been blessed with nine children. They are thankful to be members of the St. Tom’s community and feel deep gratitude to the Dominicans and fellow parishioners who have accompanied them and positively impacted their lives in countless ways.

Judy Pfledderer

Coordinator of Religious Education | judy@boilercatholics.org

A native of Crawfordsville who recently retired after 30 years of service as an administrative assistant to the Crawfordsville Community School Corporation, Judy is assisting with the coordination of St. Tom’s religious education programs. She has taught religious education from preschool to second-grade since the early 1980s and is a catechist here at St. Tom’s. She team-teaches Break Open the Word during the Liturgy of the Word at 9:00 a.m. Mass with the second-grade students preparing for First Eucharist. She also works with them in other areas of this Sacramental preparation.

As St. Tom’s parishioners for more than 20 years, Judy and her husband Paul enjoy serving as part of the “Coffee and Donuts “ministry on Sundays after 9:00 a.m. Mass. They also enjoy traveling, camping, biking and spending time with our children and grandchildren.

Mary Riehle

Administrative Assistant to the Pastor | mary@boilercatholics.org

Mary attended St. Mary Cathedral and Central Catholic schools and is a graduate of IUPUI.  Prior to joining St. Tom’s, she worked for more than 20 years as a graphic designer/art director and bookkeeper for her family business. 

Mary and her husband Jim have five children. When her beloved son-in-law left this world on Christmas Eve 2017, Mary decided to surround herself with people who work to improve other’s live by bringing God’s love to them. She has found that workplace at St. Tom’s. In her spare time, Mary gardening, biking, movies, organizing, traveling, and cooking.

Dr. Thomas Ryba

Theologian-in-Residence | methexis@boilercatholics.org

Dr. Thomas Ryba is the Notre Dame Theologian-in-Residence at St. Tom’s and a continuing lecturer in philosophy and religious studies at Purdue. Dr. Ryba completed his undergraduate studies in philosophy and anthropology and holds master’s and doctoral degrees in the history and literature of religions from Northwestern University. 

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), and The Optics of the Antichrist and The Abrahamic Traditions: A Significant Structures Approach (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.

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