Living the Splendour of Truth Conference Speaker Bios

St Peter and Holy Spirit at Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome

Learn from and be inspired by an impressive line-up of expert international and national speakers on issues relating to life, faith and family at the Living the Splendour of Truth Pro-Life, Pro-Family Conference to be held 5th to 7th October, 2018 at Epsom Girls Grammar School, Auckland, New Zealand.

Living the Splendour of Truth and LifeFest Youth Conference* Speakers

Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke | Dr Gianna Emanuela Molla
Father Shenan J. Boquet | Father Linus Clovis | Father Jeremy Palman
Bert and Lida Assen | Dame Colleen Bayer | Dr Brian Clowes | Kathy Clowes
Catherine Gillies | Dr Colin Harte | Dr Joseph Hassan and Cushla Hassan
Jaime Leornas | Michael Loretz | Dr Wanda Skowronska

*Please note that not all speakers will be presenting at the LifeFest Youth Conference on Thursday 4th October.

His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke

Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke

One of the world’s foremost authorities on Roman Catholic canon law, Raymond Cardinal Burke leads with an unwavering passion for the integrity of Catholic doctrine embodied in the words of Jesus Christ.  He is the Cardinal Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, Archbishop Emeritus of St Louis, USA and Prefect Emeritus of the Apostolic Signatura, the church’s highest court.

Keynote:  “Living the Splendour of Truth”
Homilies:  Opening and Closing Masses and during Adoration at LifeFest Youth Conference
Special Event:  Young Adults Luncheon

gianna molla

Dr Gianna Emanuela Molla

Dr Gianna Emanuela Molla is the daughter that Saint Gianna Beretta Molla gave her life for. She works full time serving the Saint Gianna Foundation as General Secretary and is devoted to sharing the example, testimony and spirituality of her Saint-Mum. Formerly, Gianna Emanuela practiced as a geriatrician at the Geriatric Institute, “Camillo Golgi” in Abbiategrasso, Milan. In 2003, she left her profession to care for her father Pietro until he died on April 3, 2010, on Holy Saturday, at the age of almost 98.

Keynotes:  Conference Dinner, Conference and LifeFest Youth Conference
Special Event:  Young Adults Luncheon

Father Shenan J. Boquet

Father Shenan J. Boquet

Father Shenan J. Boquet travels around the world spreading the Gospel of Life as president of Human Life International (HLI). He was ordained priest in 1993 for the Houma-Thibodaux Roman Catholic Diocese in Louisiana, his home state, where he served before joining HLI in August 2011. Father Boquet served his diocese in various capacities: pastor, educator, diocesan consulter, presbyterial council [chair], and diocesan administration.

Having journeyed a million miles to over 70 countries, Father Boquet collaborates with Vatican officials, (arch)bishops and Church leaders, mentors priests and seminarians, offers guidance to civil leaders, speaks at numerous international conferences, and spreads the Catholic Church’s teaching on Life and Family as part of HLI’s global mission to build a Culture of Life.  Father Boquet has given numerous talks at conferences and symposia in the United States and around the world on issues ranging from the dignity of the human person and the nature of marriage to social justice and moral theology.

A frequent guest on various media programs, Father has appeared on EWTN television and radio shows, Catholic Answers Live, Ave Maria Radio, Vatican Radio, as well as a number of local Catholic radio programs in the U.S. and in other international media outlets. His writings have appeared in numerous publications such as:  LifeSiteNews, LifeNews, Catholic Exchange, CNSNews, Catholic Lane, Catholic Online, Crux, Legatus, and The Wanderer.

Father Boquet was raised in the small town of Bourg, Louisiana, in a devoutly Catholic family and community, who provided his initial formation in Christ.  His earliest and most influential examples were his parents, grandparents, godmother and parish priests, all of whom instilled in him at a young age a love for Christ and his Church, and an active faith that was to be lived, and not merely held.  He was very active as a youth in service projects with Catholic Charities and other groups that ministered to families, the elderly, the sick, the poor, and marginalized.  This active faith grew naturally into a vocation to the priesthood, where the contemplative and sacramental aspects of the Faith complemented and informed the active.  Father Boquet has been persecuted at times for preaching the Church’s teaching on Life and Family, but in spite of these difficulties, he has remained steadfast and dedicated to authentic Catholic teaching and advocacy.

“The Most Important Work on Earth – Protecting the Preborn”
“Reasons for Hope”
“Pro-Life Apologetics – Making the Case for Life and Family”

Fr Clovis

Father Linus Clovis

Father Linus F Clovis is a priest of the Archdiocese of Castries, St. Lucia in the West Indies.  He studied at the Angelicum in Rome and was ordained in 1983 by Saint Pope John Paul II.

Father Clovis is a qualified teacher and holds a doctorate in Mathematics and degrees in Theology, Canon Law and Latin Literature.  He has served as dean of the Science Faculty of the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College and for seven years was principal of St. Mary’s College, St. Lucia.

He is also the archdiocesan spiritual director of the Legion of Mary in St. Lucia, through which he promotes devotion to Our Lady, especially the Rosary, Perpetual Help novena, and the First Friday and First Saturday.  Additionally, he has led outreaches to the neighbouring islands, and annual pilgrimages to Marian shrines in, at least, fourteen different countries.

Father Clovis is also a versatile speaker on pro-life issues, scripture, Mariology and Catholic teaching and has a large number of talks and homilies on CD to his credit. He has also made literary contributions to newspapers and international magazines.

Father Clovis is the author of the book A Biblical Search for the Church Christ Founded.
In 2003, Father Clovis single handedly led the resistance to the St Lucia Government’s surreptitious legalization of abortion in his Catholic island which made him enemy number one, especially after his refusal to give Holy Communion to Pearlette Louisy, the head of state who had signed abortion into law.

Father Clovis is the eldest of five brothers who are all actively in the pro-life apostolate. He is currently the spiritual director of Family Life International.

Keynote:  “Consequences of Ignoring Humanae Vitae”

Fr Palman

Father Jeremy Palman

Father Palman is currently the Administrator at Holy Family Parish in Te Atatu, Auckland.  He has a keen interest in pro-life and pro-family issues and is a courageous proclaimer of the Gospel of Life.

Father Jeremy Palman has learnt, through experience, of the merciful patience of God towards a fragile humanity.  Having begun priestly formation at 18 years old (after a radical conversion experience), and leaving a few short weeks later, it took him 17 years to return to the seminary – to what the Lord had in mind all along – to become a diocesan priest for the Auckland Diocese.

In between times he studied engineering, lived with a religious order, and worked in product development of farming equipment and gained valuable experience in other walks of life.  He is 45 years old and was ordained in August 2014.  Only three years a priest and never ceasing to learn, he is currently serving as Administrator of Holy Family Parish, Te Atatu Peninsula in Auckland.

Before entering the seminary again in 2008 he was involved in helping young people discover the truth of Saint John Paul II’s Theology of the Body and assisted for many years at a young adult summer camp, Hearts Aflame.

Celebrating both forms of the Roman Rite is one of the joys of Father Palman’s priesthood, where, through the mercy of God, he is an instrument of mercy for Christ’s people.  He is interested in philosophy and the beautiful teaching of Fr Marie-Dominique Philippe, a French Dominican, who gave his life in the pursuit of wisdom.

Presentation:  “Same Sex Attraction in the Light of the Cross”

Bert and Lida Assen

Bert and Lida Assen

Bert and Lida are the amazing parents of 16 grown children and understand what it means to be generous in the vocation of marriage.

Presentation:  “Generosity in Marriage”

Colleen Bayer

Dame Colleen Bayer, DSG

Dame Colleen Bayer established Family Life International NZ in 1992.  Inspired by the late Father Paul Marx (the great Apostle of Life), she realised the need for a pro-life, pro-family organisation in New Zealand which addressed all the life issues from natural conception through to natural death, was unashamedly Catholic, and would open its arms wide to every pregnant mother facing a crisis pregnancy, as well as the sick, disabled and elderly who may find themselves a target for euthanasia-type practices.

Colleen has been married to her husband Terry for 40 years.  Together they have five children (four adopted, three of whom have special needs), and twelve grandchildren.  Their eldest daughter, Michelle, is now the current Director of Family Life International NZ.  For many years Colleen and Terry have fostered and provided respite for 27 children with various special needs, truly opening their hearts and their home to those who are most vulnerable in society today.

In the 20 years prior to establishing Family Life International, Colleen was actively involved in SPUC (now Voice for Life), Operation Rescue, and praying and sidewalk counselling outside abortion facilities.

Prior to his resignation, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI named Colleen a Dame in the Order of St Gregory the Great, an honour for her pro-life work with mothers and babies in New Zealand.

Colleen has her hand in every aspect of the organisation, directly working with the mothers served through our Gianna’s Choice Pregnancy Options and Support service, as well as ensuring that the mission of Family Life International NZ is carried out faithfully.

Presentation:  “Welcoming Life”

Brian Clowes

Dr Brian Clowes

Dr. Brian Clowes is the Director of Education and Research at Human Life International.

He is a graduate of West Point, a former A-Team leader for the Army Special Forces (“Green Berets”), and holds a PhD in Civil Engineering and Systems Science.  Since 1995, he has been HLI’s Director of Research, and is one of the most accomplished and respected intellectuals in the international pro-life movement.

Best known as author of the most exhaustive pro-life informational resource volume The Facts of Life, and for his Pro-Life Basic Training Course, Brian is the author of nine books, over 90 scholarly and popular articles, and has traveled to 50 countries on six continents as a pro-life speaker, educator and trainer.

He has appeared in the documentaries “Blood Money” and “Maafa 21” as an authority on the dismal past of Planned Parenthood.  Perhaps most importantly, Brian authored the report which helped sway legislators in the 2001 defunding of the UNFPA by the Bush Administration.

Brian and his wife, Kathleen, have seven children and combined have over 50 years of pro-life experience, ranging from rescues, sidewalk counseling to counselling pregnant women and assisting in litigation against abortionists.

Keynote:  “The Family Under Siege”
Presentation:  “The Population Control Agenda”
Workshop:  “Pro-Life Apologetics – Making the Case for Life and Family”

Kathy Clowes

Kathy Clowes

Kathy Clowes has been helping clients, women, children and couples at Front Royal Pregnancy Center since 1998.  After eight years as a peer counselor, Kathy became Director in 2006.  Prior to coming to Northern Virginia, Kathy advocated for women for 12 years in the Pacific Northwest.  She oversees staff and volunteers each day.  Because she likes to see clients thrive, she regularly counsels clients in challenging circumstances.  Kathy has a BS in Biology, (enjoys reading current research in health care), and is investing in graduate school to better serve clients.

Workshop:  “Reaching Abortion Vulnerable Women”

Catherine Gillies

Catherine Gillies

Post abortion counsellor Catherine Gillies has studied the impact of abortion for over thirty years.

She has counselled women of many nationalities; and has found that while their ages, cultures and religions may differ, the heartache of abortion is consistent: a mother is a mother from the moment of conception and her heart and soul know that!  Unfortunately, society doesn’t want to know that, and so the woman’s grief is complicated and unacknowledged, and her motherhood denied.

A former Voice for Life president, and Chair of the Auckland Diocesan Human Life Committee, she believes our laws should protect the vulnerable: the babies and their mothers!

As a chartered accountant she believes the social cost of abortion makes it the most expensive tax payer funded medical procedure in New Zealand


  • Correlation between abortion and mental health problems;
  • Correlation between abortion and physical health problems;
  • Correlation between abortion and suicide;
  • Correlation between abortion and death by homicide;
  • Correlation between abortion and higher rates of addiction;
  • Correlation between abortion and imprisonment;
  • Correlation between abortion and family break downs.

The long-term financial-impact of abortion on New Zealand society is a constant drain on our welfare, health and justice department resources.  The long-term physical and psychological impact of abortion is so daunting that Catherine believes if people knew what she knows about the impact of abortion, they wouldn’t offer it to their worst enemies let alone their daughters, girl-friends or wives.

As a mother and grandmother she is grateful her family supported her as a teenage mum.  Children bring love, joy and wonder into our world, and this personal aspect is often ignored as the pro-abortion lobbyists focus on rights rather than lives.

Workshop:  “Walking with the Wounded – Practical Insights into Post Abortion Healing”

C Harte

Dr Colin Harte, PhD

Colin gained his PhD for a thesis on suffering and self-giving, based on the theology an anthropology of John Paul II.

For 24 years, until her death in 2013,  he was the personal care assistant of Alison Davis, an exceptional pro-life advocate who suffered greatly throughout her life, and whom FLI was honoured to host at their 2009 conference.

He is the author of a major and ground breaking book, Changing Unjust Laws Justly: Pro-life solidarity with the “last and the least”.

Colin addresses conferences and seminars in the UK and internationally, and is frequently called upon to participate in TV and radio discussions on euthanasia in the UK.  He is a Board Member of the UK euthanasia opposition group Care Not Killing.

Colin is totally committed to the sanctity of life and has a very special empathy with those who suffer.

Keynote:  “Suffering the Greatest Privilege Possible in the World”
Presentation:  “The Woodcutter and the Axe – Prioritising the Most Vulnerable”

Joseph Cushla Hassan

Dr Joseph Hassan, MBChB, DCH, Dip. Obst, FRNZCGP
and Cushla Hassan, BN, NZRCN

Joseph and Cushla set up St Luke’s Health Centre in 2001, First do no harm: Christian Hippocratic General Practice in Nelson, New Zealand, offering fertility education and a free Crisis Pregnancy Service.

They are Co Founders (Medical Advisor and Clinical Nurse Manager) for Hapai Taumaha Hapūtanga/Crisis Pregnancy Support which is a free service within the practice, offering support to women with unplanned pregnancies who wish to explore the option of continuing their pregnancy with support.  Women suffering from post abortion grief also come for support.

They are accredited teachers in Natural Fertility Education – Billings Ovulation Method  and they are both Trustees of WOOMBNZ.  Joseph is Head of WOOMBNZ.

Joseph and Cushla serve on the Medical Advisory Board for Loving for Life NZ and are passionate about promoting these programmes on Christian Sexuality and Relationships.

They have spoken together both nationally and internationally and are passionate about life affirming work.

Joseph and Cushla are very happily married and have 4 children.

Presentation:  “The Role of Conscience for Medical Professionals”
Workshop:  “Natural Fertility Regulation – Billings Ovulation Method”

Jaime Leornas

Jaime Leornas

Jaime has worked tirelessly promoting life, family and chastity in the Philippines for decades.  Through his apostolate based in Manila, Jaime has been able to reach many thousands of school students with the pro-life and chastity message.  He also hosts pro-life and pro-family conferences to encourage and equip people to be strong defenders of the Gospel of Life.

Presentation:  “The International Impact of a Culture of Death”

Michael Loretz

Michael Loretz

Michael is currently serving Family Life International NZ as Education Director.  He is passionate about the education of young people and has considerable experience in teaching and school leadership, most recently as Deputy Principal of Mt Roskill Grammar School.

Michael decided to leave mainstream education in 2015 and dedicate his full time efforts to educating young people in faith and life issues.  The decision came soon after his wife Rebecca gave birth to their ninth child – a birth which confounded doctors who had strongly recommended abortion.  Through the intercession of St Philomena, the baby defied incredible odds and is now a happy and healthy 4-year-old.

Founder of the House of Nazareth Pre-school, Michael hopes to initiate more educational initiatives that will return parents to their role as primary educators of their children and bring the next generation safely to the treasures of the faith, including a celebration of life from conception to natural death and a disposition of love and service to Christ who comes to us in the vulnerable and the weak.

His role at Family Life International includes co-ordinating 40 Days for Life, Theology of the Body and running educational programmes for schools and the Catholic community in New Zealand.

Wanda Skowronska

Dr Wanda Skowronska

Wanda Skowronska is an educational psychologist from Sydney, Australia.  She spent her first years in Bonegilla Migrant camp where her parents had come as refugees from Poland and Latvia.

Wanda has worked in several inner Sydney schools and provides ongoing pro life counselling for Family Life International Australia.  She has promoted the Spiritual Adoption of the Unborn Child prayer apostolate for 15 years.

Wanda studied at the John Paul II Institute in Melbourne completing a PhD there in 2011, writing on the integration of psychology and Christian anthropology, focusing on the work of American Catholic psychologist Paul Vitz.  She is a sessional lecturer at the John Paul II Institute.

Wanda has written articles for several publications writing regularly on psychological matters for the Australian Catholic journal Annals.  Wanda has written a book on the experiences of post World War II refugees entitled To Bonegilla from Somewhere and more recently Catholic Converts from Down Under … And All Over Her next book entitled Catholic Schooldays in the 1960s (Connor Court Publishing), will be published shortly.

Presentation:  “Flexible Genders and the Flight from Reason”

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