Meet Our 2023 Speakers

Laura Berquist


"Ten Things That Make a Difference"

We have many aspirations for our homeschooling students. Achieving them while maintaining a happy home can be quite challenging. Come listen to homeschooling Expert Laura Berquist, Director of Mother of Divine Grace School present “10 Things That Really Make a Difference,” to keep your homeschooling students happy, cooperative, and motivated.

"Working with Resistant Teens"

Do you struggle with your teenage homeschooler? Do you want your teen to care about their education and future? Laura Berquist, in her talk, “Working with Resistant Teens,” will provide essential strategies on how to effectively get challenging teens back on track.

Mrs. Laura M. Berquist founded Mother of Divine Grace School, an accredited distance learning school now serving more than 6300 students. Inaugurated in 1995 with 75 students, MODG now offers various levels of programs for students, summer classes for students and parents and workshops for parents throughout the year. Mrs. Berquist founded the school after writing Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum. The response to her book convinced her that there were many other mothers, like her, who wanted to provide a Catholic Classical education for their children. The mission of Mother of Divine Grace school is to help Catholic parents educate their children in a living Catholic culture.  Based on the philosophy of education articulated in The Method and Division of the Sciences, but adapted to younger students, Mrs. Berquist developed a classical curriculum for grades K-12. That curriculum has since been enhanced with online classes, teacher support and many years of experience.

Mrs. Berquist is a graduate of Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, CA. She home schooled her six children for 25 years. All six graduated from Thomas Aquinas College, four have earned advanced degrees and five of her children are married. She has 16 grandchildren.

Laurie Shepardson

"Introduction to Homeschooling"

“Is it legal?” “How do you do it?” “What about socialization?” Laurie will navigate through the ins and outs of homeschooling in the state of California. They will discuss the importance of knowing your own reasons for educating your children at home.

Laurie Shepardson is a homeschooling, rosary praying, grace seeking, wanna be saint. She loves to share about her faith, family, and failures in between. She is passionate about trying, and sometimes succeeding, to do small things with great love. Laurie is a wife to Ken and mom to 11, ages 27 down to 5. She has homeschooled for the passed 23 years. She loves to share and help new people along on their journey.

Especially for Moms

Jeanette Pascua

"Using Morning Time to Build a Rhythm in your Homeschool"

In this presentation, Jeanette will discuss the idea of Morning Time and how it can be used in your homeschool to build a gentle and consistent rhythm for your homeschool days. She will share how to use Morning Time with kids of all ages and how this practice will be fruitful in creating an atmosphere of connection.

Jeanette Pascua is a writer, speaker, and podcaster who holds a degree in Theology and Catechetics from Franciscan University of Steubenville. After teaching high school theology at her Alma Mater for eight years, she left the classroom to enter into the work of raising and educating her own children. She now spends her days educating her four children, ages 5-12, using the Charlotte Mason philosophy. 

You can also find her writing about homeschooling and Catholic family life at her blog Permission to Pursue and encouraging moms to discern and live God’s will fully on her podcast by the same name, Permission to Pursue.

Kathryn Anne Casey

"How to Create a Literary Catholic Culture in your Home - And Why That Matters"

For pillars in the Catholic Church like St. Ignatius, St. Teresa of Avila, and St. Francis, the power of literature, storytelling and imagination fueled their conversions and passion for the Lord. What is it about fiction and storytelling that has the power to do this?

In this presentation, Kathryn Anne Casey will introduce the concept of a Catholic literary culture in the home, share the value and benefits of such a life, and explain how developing a Catholic imagination through literature can help each member of the family on the path towards sainthood.

Kathryn Anne Casey is a writer with a focus on faith, art, psychology, and the importance of local community. She blogs at and is a regular reporter and columnist for The Hughson Chronicle and Denair Dispatch. She studied gender complementarity and psychology at the University of St. Thomas and clinical psychology at Divine Mercy University. She is the author of Journey in Love: A Catholic Mother’s Prayers after Prenatal DiagnosisPeace in Pregnancy: Devotions for the Expectant Mother, and What God Had Emptied: How I Found Hope after my Children’s Diagnoses. Kathryn lives in Hughson, California, with her husband and children.

Kendra Tierney

"Liturgical Living for Homeschool"

In her fifteenth year as a homeschooling mom, liturgical living expert Kendra Tierney shares how observing feast days in the home isn’t just doable for homeschooling families, it’s perfect for them!

Kendra Tierney is a recently widowed mother of ten living in the wilds of unincorporated Los Angeles county. She has a passion for liturgical living in the home and believes that anything worth doing is worth overdoing. She is the founder and C.E.O. of Catholic All Year, the author of books including The Catholic All Year Compendium and A Little Book About Confession for Children, and the creator of the show Catholic All Year at Home on FORMED.

Monica Ashour

"Teaching Theology of the Body to Tots, Tweens, and Teens"

As many parts of the nation give messages in direct opposition to God’s design, there is hope! St. John Paul’s TOB is not merely about sexuality; it is an anthropology, starting with the truth of the body. This talk gives concrete examples of reaching children in age-appropriate ways about the fact that the body matters.

Holding two Masters from the University of Dallas—one in Theological Studies and one in Humanities, Monica Ashour is an international speaker, author of 28 books, President and Director of Content Creation for the Theology of the Body Evangelization Team, known as TOBET. Named in 2010 by the Catholic National Register as one of the top six speakers on Saint John Paul’s seminal work known as the Theology of the Body, Monica and her team have completed a pre-school through 8th-grade program called The Body Matters for schools, faith formation, and family catechesis. It has been called a “game-changer.”

Monica was awarded by the Catholic Press Association for Honorable Mention—First Time Author of a Book, Everybody Has Something to Give. She also received the Excellence in Publishing Award for Children’s Books for her Every BODY Has a Body: God Made Us to Love, from her series called ToB for Kids for 4-7 year-olds and ToB for Tots for 2-5 year-olds. 

Before becoming an international speaker, Monica served as a campus minister at St. Mary’s Catholic Church of Texas A&M University. Monica enjoys discussion groups, exercise, bridge, and coaching softball.

Carolyn Forte

"Homeschooling Children with Special Needs"

After many decades of working with and observing special needs students, Carolyn has learned never to put limits on what a child may do one day. No matter what the disability may be, God is in control. This workshop is filled with practical, easy-to-implement ideas and resources gleaned from Carolyn’s own experiences and hundreds of other homeschoolers with special-needs kids.  
Carolyn Forte is a former elementary school teacher, Sunday School Director and is currently principal of a private school for homeschoolers in California. She is a Certified Learning Success Coach with the Learning Success Institute in Ventura, CA and has done extensive study in Special Needs and Learning Disabilities. Over the last 25 years she has mentored hundreds of homeschool families including many with a variety of special needs. Carolyn and her husband, Martin are the owners of Excellence In Education Homeschool Resource Center in Monrovia, CA.

Especially for Dads

Gus Garcia

"You're the Man"

Gustavo recognizes the struggles that many homeschool dads face, including living as a single income family, feelings of inadequacy, and children who are reluctant or obstinate when it comes to religion. Gustavo’s talk will focus on the importance of sharing the faith with our children,  helping them navigate this confusing world, and not giving up.

Gustavo Garcia is the father of 13 children, ranging in age from 7 to 32. He, along with his wife, has been homeschooling since 2001. So far, he has 3 college grads, one Navy vet, 3 married children and three grandchildren. Sometimes referred to as a “professional dad,” Gustavo enjoys working with children and young adults, evangelizing and counseling whenever and wherever the opportunity presents itself.

Gustavo has a passion for the sacrament of marriage and has been a presenter for the marriage preparation program for the archdiocese of Los Angeles for over 15 years. He is also actively involved with the 40 days for Life devotion and often prays in front of abortion clinics with his children.He is a musician, as well as a guitar teacher, and has played music for his local parish, along with his daughters, for many years. Music is one of the ways he has stayed close to his kids while showing them the value of sharing one’s time and talent with the Church.

Fr. Edmund Page, O.Praem

"In Exitu Israel: Homeschooling and the (Re-)Construction of Christendom"

Speaking to the Roman Curia, Pope Francis once said that “Christendom no longer exists!” Indeed, everywhere we look, there seems to be moral disorder, intellectual confusion, and an apparent weakening of our holy Mother the Church. In such a world, the proper education of our children is paramount. In fact, a good education is essential for the continual building of Christendom as our fathers have known it. But what is the cornerstone to such an education? Even as adult fathers and mothers, we know that we need continual guidance in our own intellectual and spiritual lives in order to pass on true wisdom to our children. We are at war, and we need spiritual weapons to keep fighting. In short, we need the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. In this presentation, we will explore the nature of the Gifts and other spiritual works which will help us to better help our children.

Fr Edmund Page, O.Praem., entered St Michael’s Abbey in 2010. Fr Edmund resides at the abbey and serves as the abbey’s guestmaster and succentor (assistant cantor). He also directs the abbey’s polyphonic choir, known as the Schola. After being homeschooled in high school and attending Cor Mariae homeschool co-op in Huntington Beach, Fr Edmund graduated from Ave Maria University with a BA in music and a concentration in sacred music. During his abbey formation, he received a BA in Fundamental Theology and a Masters in Theology from St Philip’s Seminary, Toronto. Fr Edmund also studied for two years in Rome, where he received a licentiate in Spiritual Theology from the Pontifical University of St Thomas. As guestmaster, Fr Edmund gives many tours of the new abbey, and especially enjoys welcoming groups of homeschoolers!