For more information or to schedule a presentation, please contact us at:
Catholic Apologetics Institute of North America (CAINA)
P.O. Box 220402
Chantilly, VA 20153
Telephone: 877-718-0826 (Toll Free)
Mr. Steven R. Hemler
Steve Hemler is President of the Catholic Apologetics Institute of North America (CAINA) and author of The Reality of God: The Layman’s Guide to Scientific Evidence for the Creator and Search No More: The Keys to Truth and Happiness, as well as the new book Catholic Stories of Faith and Hope: How God Brings Good Out of Suffering, all published by TAN Books.
Steve has a Master of Pastoral Studies degree from Loyola University of Chicago, as well as Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Civil/Structural Engineering from Virginia Tech. He also has a Certificate in the Catechism of the Catholic Church from Catholic Distance University (see www.cdu.edu) and a Certificate in Advanced Youth Ministry Studies from the Center for Ministry Development. Steve is also certified as a Specialized Catechist in Apologetics by the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, is VIRTUS trained and certified, and is an approved speaker on the diocesan Speaker’s Bureau.
Steve has been actively involved in adolescent and adult religious education for over 30 years, including developing and teaching several 3-week-long online apologetics seminars for the Certificate in Apologetics offered by Catholic Distance University (CDU). After a 33-year professional engineering career, including 13 years in the Middle East, Steve took early retirement in 2011 to follow a calling to serve God and the Church full time. Steve and his wife Linda have been married for over 40 years and have three adult children and a wonderful grandson. They live in Culpeper, Virginia, and are active at Precious Blood Catholic Church, where Steve serves as the Coordinator of Adult Faith Formation.
CAINA’s multimedia presentations focus on strengthening faith and equipping Catholics to better explain and share WHY we believe what we do in our increasingly secular society. To-date, Steve has given CAINA’s well-received presentations over 400 times in the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, Diocese of Richmond, Diocese of Pittsburgh, Diocese of Greensburg (PA), Diocese of Harrisburg (PA), Diocese of Memphis, Diocese of Nashville, Diocese of Knoxville, Diocese of Covington (KY), Diocese of Charlotte, Diocese of Charleston (SC), Diocese of Orlando, Archdiocese of Louisville, Archdiocese of Baltimore, and Archdiocese of Washington (DC).
Steve has been on TV discussing religion and science with Fr. Mitch Pacwa on EWTN LIVE and discussing his first two books on EWTN Bookmark with Doug Keck. He discussed the purpose of suffering and his newest book with Johnnette Benkovic Williams on EWTN’s Women of Grace TV show (Part Two). Steve also discussed CAINA’s ministry and his books on the EWTN TV show, At Home with Jim and Joy (Part Two), as well as on the Catholic Community Television Network (CCTN), Catholic Men of America, and The Catholic CEO.
He has also appeared on several popular Catholic radio shows, including The Jennifer Fulwiler Show, Seize the Day with Gus Lloyd, the Busted Halo Show with Fr. Dave Dwyer, The Drew Mariani Show, the Son Rise Morning Show with Matt Swaim and Anna Mitchell, Meet the Author with Ken Huck, Faithworks with Dr. Matthew Bunson, Teresa Tomeo’s Catholic Connection, Jon Leonetti in the Morning, Wake Up! on Catholic Community Radio, Off the Shelf with Pete Socks on Breadbox Media, The UnCommon Good with Bo Bonner and Dr. Bud Marr on Iowa Catholic Radio, Driving Home the Faith with Fr. Rob Jack on Sacred Heart Radio, and The Kyle Heimann Show on Redeemer Radio.
Steve’s articles have been published in several leading Catholic and secular magazines, including America, Liguorian, and National Review, as well as Catholic365.com, StrangeNotions.com, and The Arlington Catholic Herald.
Fr. Richard McLeon
The Reverend Richard McLeon, CAINA’s Vice President of Ecumenism, has a Master’s degree in business administration from Sul Ross State University and a Bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University. Richard has worked in the non-profit electric cooperative utility industry for almost 30 years with over a decade as a CEO/General Manager. He is a US Army Veteran and served as Vice-Chairman of the Texas Veterans Commission. Richard has a Certificate in Apologetics from Catholic Distance University along with many years’ experience as a preacher, teacher, and catechist. He has been published many times in various professional periodicals and was a contributing author for the book Catholic Stories of Faith and Hope: How God Brings Good Out of Suffering.
Richard was ordained a Deacon and then a Priest in the Episcopal Church in 2010 serving in rural parish bi-vocational ministry in the tradition of St. Paul and the “circuit riders” of old. He joined the Catholic Church in 2021 and lives in Dighton, Kansas.
Mr. Lee J. Granger
Lee Granger, CAINA’s Vice President of Administration, grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida, and obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Aerospace Engineering from Georgia Tech. He worked briefly in the aerospace field before beginning a 40-year career in computers and software development. He became interested in Catholic apologetics in 2001 and began extensive reading while participating in an apologetics group in Kansas City where he was active in bringing noted speakers to the area for city-wide retreats and workshops. After moving to Richmond, Virginia, he began actively preparing and teaching a series of apologetics classes for his own and neighboring parishes. After retiring and moving to northern Virginia, he joined Holy Trinity Parish and developed and taught a series of classes on God and science. Lee holds a Basic Certificate in Apologetics from the Catholic Distance University, and Basic and Specialized Catechist Certification in Apologetics from the Catholic Diocese of Arlington. He and his wife Mary have been married for over 50 years and have 6 children. They live in Gainesville, Virginia.
Mrs. Teresa O’Brien
Teresa O’Brien, CAINA’s Vice President of Communications, has a Master of Arts in Theological Studies through the University of St. Thomas at St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston, Texas; a Basic Certificate in Apologetics from the Catholic Distance University; and Basic and Specialized Catechist Certification in Apologetics from the Catholic Diocese of Arlington; as well as a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada.
Teresa’s knowledge of both science and theology made working with an apostolate in apologetics for the complementarity of these two disciplines a natural fit. Her approach to teaching Catholicism, while mainly intellectual, is firmly grounded in and sustained by a life of prayer and participation in the liturgy and sacraments. Teresa has come to know God’s love for her and her love for God, which she hopes also to convey to all whom she instructs in the faith. Teresa’s three great passions of teaching, learning and protecting life are reflected in her volunteerism at the various parishes where she has lived: teaching RCIA and CCD at various grade levels, being involved in religious book study groups, and participating in Respect Life ministries.
Teresa has been married to her husband Michael since 1992. They have three grown children and live with a number of dogs and cats at any given time in Culpeper, Virginia, where they are active at Precious Blood Catholic Church.
Mr. Antonio S. Gibert
Antonio (Tony) Gibert, CAINA’s Vice President of Hispanic Outreach, is a member of Saint Jude Catholic Church in Fredericksburg, Virginia. A native of Cuba he moved to Puerto Rico in 1962 and to Fredericksburg in 1982.
He obtained a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico and completed numerous post graduate courses in engineering, management, leadership, and human resources. He has completed more than 40 studies about the Bible and Catholic doctrine. He retired in 2012 after more than 40 years with the private sector and the Departments of Defense and Navy.
Tony’s daily responsibilities never interfered with his desire and dedication to give back to the community and the church. He has been President of the National Organization for Advancement of Hispanics, Chair of the People with Disability Group, Spotsylvania County Youth Sports Coach, and a volunteer in the Spotsylvania County School System and at the University of Mary Washington. Currently, he teaches Bible studies at St. Jude, volunteers for the St. Vincent de Paul Society, visits assisted living facilities to pray the Rosary, is a member of St. Jude Parish Life Organization, and is a speaker for the Hispanic Charismatic Group “Confiados en Jesus y Maria.” He is a Professed Secular Franciscan and Legionary for the Legion of Mary. Tony is VIRTUS trained and certified.
He has been married for over 47 years to Ivonne (Bonnie) Gibert, who is a native of Puerto Rico. They are parents of two adult children and grandparents of two precious boys.
Mrs. Sandra Solares
Sandra Solares is CAINA’s Vice President of Hispanic Ministry. Sandra came back to the Church in 1987 while living in her home country of Bolivia. In 1989 she moved with her family to Fairfax, Virginia. She formed and led a charismatic prayer group and soon became Secretary of the Council of the Hispanic Charismatic Renewal for the Diocese of Arlington, serving there for several years. More recently, she was a member of the Council for Hispanic Convalidations for the Diocese. During her years as a parishioner of St. Leo the Great Parish in Fairfax, she was the Director of the Spanish Choir for 7 years; she organized and taught classes for RCIA in Spanish for 15 years; she was wedding coordinator for the Hispanic community; lector; EMOC; and organized many parish events. She also taught Bible Study.
Sandra worked at the International Monetary Fund for 26 years as an Administrative Assistant and took part in the World Bank/IMF Staff Catholic Association for as many years. She was elected to several positions including vice chair and chair on different occasions throughout this time period.
She moved to Arnold, Maryland, in 2019 and volunteered as a CCD teacher at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church. In 2020, she moved to Culpeper, Virginia, where she serves at Precious Blood Catholic Church as a Confirmation catechist and on the parish staff as the Liturgy and Hispanic Ministry Assistant. She also volunteers at St. Joseph’s Table Food Ministry and participates in the parish’s Respect Life activities.
Sandra is an author of a published Catholic children’s book Nelly. Sandra and her husband Gustavo have been married over 38 years. They have 6 adult children and 15 grandchildren, so far.
Dr. Francis Thomas
Dr. Francis Thomas, CAINA’s Vice President of Evangelization, holds Bachelors, Masters, and Ph.D. degrees in Computer Science and an M.A. in Systematic Theology from Christendom College. He leads a number of apologetics activities and has held all-weekend faith formation workshops in the United States and internationally. His interest and approach to apologetics was sparked more than 30 years ago when the Catholic faith of his upbringing was questioned by several Protestant Christian groups on the modern American campus. During the nine years he spent in graduate programs at three American universities, he was involved in a variety of Christian student activities, Bible studies and seminars. A seminar by Catholic Answers in 1990 formally introduced him to the field of Catholic apologetics and put him on a track of spiritual renewal and intense formal study of Catholic theology and philosophy.
Dr. Thomas approaches apologetics by analyzing the philosophical, historical, theological and cultural context within which the many faith traditions have developed and how this leads to misunderstandings and confusions about the doctrines and teachings of the Catholic Church. He has an interest in bringing advanced catechesis and apologetics programs to Catholic communities in the US and abroad as part of a holistic approach to Christian discipleship.
Mr. Dean E. Checknita, O.P.
Dean Checknita, CAINA Senior Fellow, was born in Utah and raised in Calgary, Alberta. He was baptized and chrismated in the Ukrainian Catholic Church, but as a young man practiced the protestant faith with the Church of Christ. Dean joined the U.S. Army in San Diego and spent a career in the Special Forces. While assigned to the 7th Special Forces Group, and after completing Spanish language school, he was assigned to Panama and met his future wife, Natalia. Dean and Natalia have two sons. After Dean retired from the Army, he worked to develop a risk analysis center in the Army Operations Center in the Pentagon assessing critical infrastructure related supply chain disruptions on warfighting capability. Dean then moved to the Department of Homeland Security. While there, he led a national modeling, simulation, and analysis center that coordinated the work of thirty-five scientists to inform leaders about risks to national capabilities and our way of life.
Dean was called back to Catholicism and has been active in the Saint William of York Catholic Church in Stafford, Virginia. Dean was the Director of Religious Education there and teaches grades K-8 when needed. Dean was also called into the Lay Branch of the Order of Preachers and enjoys Dominican spirituality. He founded the Catholic Science and Faith Apostolate, which leverages the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas to illuminate how to better integrate faith, reason, and science. Dean holds an MBA from Fayetteville State University. He has Basic Catechist and VIRTUS certification from the Catholic Diocese of Arlington.
Mr. Patrick D. Chisholm
Patrick Chisholm, CAINA Senior Fellow, is a lector and men’s apostolate leader at St. Veronica Parish in Chantilly, Virginia. A former columnist for The Christian Science Monitor, his articles have appeared in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Baltimore Sun, San Francisco Chronicle, National Review, Crisis, and other publications. He is author of Holy Health: How Church Makes You Healthier and Happier, and runs seventytimes70, a website focusing on church and health, apologetics, and other faith topics. A native of northern Minnesota, he obtained a B.A. in history from Colorado College and M.A. in international economics from American University. Currently director of a business that provides transcription and other multimedia services, he previously worked for financial and business publications, as well as in the State Department’s Office of Mexican Affairs. He is a board member of the Fatima Outreach Foundation, which combats human trafficking. Married and father of two boys, he is a VIRTUS-certified adult leader of the St. Veronica Rangers youth outdoors program, and a former Cub Scouts leader and soccer coach. Patrick holds a Basic Certificate in Apologetics from the Catholic Distance University, and Basic and Specialized Catechist Certification in Apologetics from the Catholic Diocese of Arlington.
CAINA’s Speaker Fee Policy
The Catholic Apologetics Institute of North America (CAINA) does not have a fixed fee for speaking engagements, since we offer our presentations as a service to God and the Church and for the spiritual edification of attendees. In the spirit of this mission, CAINA will accept the hosting organization’s customary stipend for invited speakers (normally at least $100 per talk) to help defray operating expenses and have the means to reach a greater audience.