Monday, October 2nd thru Thursday, October 5th, 2017
St. Nicholas, Santa, Mrs. Claus Professionals and Serious Amateurs From
Across North America
Nicholas Institute is the one-of-a-kind spiritual retreat and
educational symposium uniquely designed with the professional St.
Nicholas, Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus and the serious “St. Nick” amateur in
each October in the beautifully serene setting of Detroit’s St. Paul of
the Cross Retreat Center, the multi-day St. Nicholas Institute represents
a refreshing change of pace for “men and women in red.” Institute
participants will experience: informative seminar sessions presented by
knowledgeable speakers representing diverse fields of expertise. As an
added plus, there opportunities for private reflection and/or prayer,
recreation, welcome periods for relaxation and/or “siestas.” This
balanced combination of informative seminar sessions held within a warm
environment that encourages mutual sharing, socializing and building
comradery is all shared among faith-based men and women who recognize that
"Jesus is", indeed, "the reason for the Season."
Nicholas Institute is open to all Mrs. Clauses, St. Nicholases
and/or Santa Clauses (traditionally bearded or theatrically
bearded “St. Nicks”) from all Christian backgrounds (Eastern
Orthodox Christians, Protestants, as well as Roman and Eastern
Catholics). Our program is uniquely designed for cross-training of
individuals to effectively portray Santa Claus and St. Nicholas for a
wide variety of venues (both secular and religious). Just as
importantly, the program encourages a prayerful openness to the very
same Spirit that animated the life and actions of the original "jolly
old St. Nicholas", whose heart was made glad by the Babe born in
Founder and Executive Director, St. Nicholas Institute,
is likewise the pastor of Sacred Heart Byzantine Catholic
Church, Livonia, MI. Possessing over 43 years of
professional Santa Claus and St. Nicholas experience. Fr. Joseph is
an Emmy Award winning Santa, was judged “Super
Santa” by The Detroit News, and is also a member of the
Santa Claus Hall of Fame. Most recently, He appeared as St.
Nicholas and Santa Claus, accompanied by six puppet characters of his
creation, for the children’s Christmas DVD, “Saint to Santa: How
St. Nicholas Became Santa Claus.” (See “Saint to Santa”
trailer and additional information, below).
Director, St. Nicholas Institute, is the pastor of Risen
Christ Lutheran Church, Plymouth, MI. A true "Renaissance Man"
in the field of entertainment, he has distinguished himself
professionally in a wide variety of venues for more than two-and-one half
decades. His long list of credits include: numerous private parties
hosted by Oprah Winfrey, working with the legendary
Quincy Jones, musical presentations at Walt Disney
World in addition to countless appearances on television and
radio. Pastor Rennie’s musical and performing gifts offer added pizzazz
during the Institute seminars and as the featured vocalist for the gala
St. Nicholas Institute Awards Banquet.
Instructors, St. Nicholas Institute. We
gratefully acknowledge the contributions made by volunteer professional
instructors who generously donate their individual time and talents in
order to make the St. Nicholas Institute possible.
Click here for the 2016 Guest instructor list.
announcement of each year’s team of instructors is announced on this
web site every June 1st.)
proceeds realized from the St. Nicholas Institute to benefit the ministry
of Sacred Heart Byzantine Catholic Church in Livonia,
The St. Nicholas Institute “went global” when Pastor Rennie Kaufamann (pictured above, left) and Fr. Joseph Marquis (as St. Nicholas, at right) participated during the World Meeting of Families, Philadelphia, PA. Both clerics met an estimated 16,000 attendees from across the globe, during this multi-day event that concluded with the historic arrival of Pope Francis in September of 2015.
2016 Schedule (2017 schedule will be similar, and announced soon)
Monday, October 3rd thru Thursday, October 6th, 2016
St. Paul of the Cross Retreat Center
23333 Schoolcraft Ave., Detroit, MI 48223
NOTE: Please be advised that the schedule outline below, may be subject to minor changes.
Monday, October 3, 2016
4:00-5:30 p.m.: Arrive at St. Paul of the Cross Retreat Center (Check-in, registration, and assignment of private rooms)
5:30-6:30 p.m.: Dinner (Refectory)
6:30-7:00 p.m.: Welcome and Introductions (Main Conference Room)
Co-Presenters: Fr. Joseph Marquis, Executive Director/ Rev. Rennie Kaufmann, Associate Director
7:00- 8:50 p.m. OPENING Session: “A Shared Faith in the Babe Born Bethlehem” Co-Presenters: Fr. Joseph Marquis, Executive Director/ Rev. Rennie Kaufmann, Associate Director
9:00 p.m.: Night Prayer (Retreat Center Chapel)
9:30 p.m.-? : Informal Social (Main Conference Room)
Tuesday, October 4, 2016
7:00 a.m.: Rise and Shine
7:45 a.m.: Morning Prayer (Retreat Center Chapel)
8:00 – 8:45 a.m.: FULL Breakfast (Dining Room)
8:45-9:00 a.m.: "Wake-Up, You Sleepy-Heads" (Musical Warm-Up)
Performer: Rev. Rennie Kaufmann, Associate Director
9:00-9:50 a.m.: Session: “St. Nicholas: A Christmas Stumbling Block or Stepping Stone?” (Main Conference Room) Presenter: Dr. Adam C. English, Campbell University
9:50-10:00a.m.: (Break) Performer: Rev. Rennie Kaufmann (Musical)
10:00-12 Noon Session: (RED GROUP) “St. Nicholas: Fresh Perspectives“
(Main Conference Room) Presenter: Fr. Joseph Marquis / Pastor Rennie Kaufmann
10:00 – 12 NOON: (GREEN GROUP) “Effective Verbal and Non-Verbal Performance Techniques” (John XXIII Room) Guest Presenter: Catrina Ganey, New York Stage and Screen Actress
11:00 – 11:10 a.m.: (Break Time)
12 noon - 1:00 p.m.: Lunch (Dining Room)
1:00-2:00p.m.: (Break / Siesta Time / Private Prayer / Explore Retreat Center Grounds)
2:15-4:15 p.m.: (RED GROUP - “Effective Verbal and Non-Verbal Performance Techniques” (John XXIII Room) Presenter: Catrina Ganey, New York Stage and Screen Actress
2:15-4:15 p.m.: (GREEN GROUP) - “St. Nicholas: Fresh Perspectives”
(Main Conference Room) Presenter: Fr. Joseph Marquis, Pastor Rennie
4:15 p.m.-5:00 p.m. (Break / Brief Siesta / Tour Retreat Center Grounds)
5:30-6:30 p.m.: Supper (Dining Room)
6:30-6:45 p.m.: (Musical Break) Rev. Rennie Kaufmann, Musical Entertainment
7:00-9:00 p.m., Session V: “Lights, Camera, Action!” (On-Camera Workshop)
Production Team: Chris Stepien, Director, Stepien Creative Services Kevin Hewitt, Cinematographer Kevin Hewitt Cinematography, Livonia, MIGatrina
Ganey, New York Stage & Screen Actress
Night Prayer (Retreat Center Chapel)
9:15-(?) : Social
(Main Conference Room)
October 5, 2016
7:00 a.m.: Rise and Shine
Morning Prayer (Retreat Center Chapel)
FULL Breakfast (Dining Room)
Musical Interlude "Laughin' Ho-Ho-Ho!"
Staff Presenter: Rev. Rennie Kaufmann,
9:00-10:00 a.m. Session: “Christmas: Theological Anticipations” Guest Presenter: Dr. Adam C. English, Campbell University
(Main Conference Room)
10:00-10:15 a.m.: (Break )Staff Presenter: Rev. Rennie Kaufmann, Musical Entertainment
11:00 a.m.-12 noon, Session: "Kris (Kringle) and Make-Up "
Guest Presenter: Ron Wolek, Professional Hair & Makeup Supervisor (1st National Tour of "War Horse;" Disneyland Training Supervisor for 50+ wig stylists; "Walt Disney World Christmas Parade", ABC TV; 2007-2010).
12 noon - 1:00
p.m.: Lunch: (Dining Room)
p.m.: After Lunch Break Period (Siesta Time / Private Prayer /
Explore Retreat Grounds)
p.m., Session: “There’s More to St. Nick Than You Think”
Guest Presenter: Dr. Ray Guarendi, Family Psychologist,
“Living Right with Dr. Ray”
3:15-3:30 p.m. (Brief Break)
Session: "Q" & "A" Session - “There’s
More to St. Nick Than You Think” (Guest Presenter: Dr. Ray
Guarendi, Family Psychologist, “Living Right with Dr.
4:55 P.M. Prepare for Chartered Bus transportation from Retreat
Center to Awards Banquet
"ALL ABOARD" (Board Special Chartered Bus to Gala Awards
Board Chartered Bus to St. Nicholas Institute Awards Banquet
Chartered Bus to Sacred Heart Banquet & Conference Center)
Arrival at Sacred Heart Banquet & Conference Center
4th Annual Gala St. Nicholas Institute Awards Banquet (Reserved
Certificate of Achievement: Each Institute participant will be honored by the general public present, as they receive an individually
framed Certificate of Achievement.
Spirit of St.
Nicholas Award: Honoring 4 outstanding individuals who, to
an extraordinary degree, embody the Spirit of Christmas that are
the St. Nicholas Institute's Core Values, 365 days a
year. Winners represent
a wide range of occupational
Spirit of Christmases Past Present &
Future Award: This prestigious award
noteworthy individuals who have made an indelible contribution to
tradition of Christmas on a worldwide scale.
Lifetime Achievement Award: By means of this honor, we
individuals whose personal lives have dramatically
personified the Christmas
Spirit over the span of many decades;
thereby inspiring others to share in
the same peace, joy and hope
that the angels proclaimed on that very first
2015, St. Nicholas Institute. All Rights Reserved.
Sancti Nicolaus Numisma
("Order of St. Nicholas
October 7th will be the inaugural
year for conferring the distinguished
"Ordinis Sancti Nicolai
Numisma" ("Order of St. Nicholas Medal"). The
(pictured above) is to be presented to all members of the
St. Nicholas Institute Alumni who
have completed four year of
Sancte Nicolaus Numisma Honoris
("St. Nicholas Medal of Honor"): The medal
be presented in the future to all members of the St. Nicholas
Alumni who have completed eight years of
10:00 p.m.: Return Trip to St. Paul of the
Cross Retreat Center
10:15 p.m. Arrival at Retreat Center
St. Paul of the Cross Retreat Center is set aside as a place of
prayer and reflection, as well as an ideal environment for individual
enrichment, please be advised that beer, wine and/or any form of
alcoholic beverage is strictly prohibited during our entire stay.
October 6, 2016
7:00 a.m.: Rise and Shine
bed linens, gather towels in room (Laundry hampers are located in
retreat hallways). Pack travel bags for later departure.
Morning Prayer (Retreat Center Chapel)
8:45 a.m.: FULL Breakfast (Dining Room)
a.m.: Session : Group Sharing (Main Conference Room)
Joseph, Executive Director
Closing Liturgy & Commissioning Service for Institute
Those who wish to
do so (Catholic or non-Catholic), will be blessed with the
of St. Nicholas" at the end of the Liturgical Celebration as
the formal commissioning.
The "Manna of St. Nicholas" is a liquid that has
from the bones of St. Nicholas of Myra for
centuries, and continues to do
so to this very day (see: Numbers
12 Noon: Informal Group Photo (Retreat House
NOTE: Don't forget to bring your camera!
12:15 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Prepared bag lunches "to go" are available on Friday, at a
modest additional charge. Please see Marcia
Sansotta on Tuesday morning, if you wish to make arrangements.
St. Nicholas Institute Team
Adam C. English,
of the Department of Christian Studies and Professor of Theology and
Philosophy, Campbell University,
Buies Creek, N.C. The author of “The Saint Who Would be Santa
Claus” (Baylor University Press, 2012). Dr.
English’s newest book, “Christmas:
will be released to the public in time for this Christmas Season
Press, fall 2016).
other scholarly interests include: constructive, confessional
theology and, in particular, areas that reveal how the early church
thought and practiced the faith.
English a licensed and ordained Baptist minister, who obtained his
from Baylor University.
has done advanced research at St.
Olaf College in Minnesota, Université Catholique de
Louvain-la-Neuve in Belgium,
and at the Centro
New York City Stage & Screen Actress / Teacher / Poet. / Adjunct
(Queens) and Borough
of Manhattan Community College.
Ms. Ganey has a B.F.A. (Howard University), M.A.(University of
Michigan) and studied at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art,
London. A New York City based actress, Catrina’s credits
include appearances in: “The Sopranos”, “Law and
Order” and in a variety of performances on HBO, CBS, NBC. She
also appeared on the HULU series:
“Deadbeat” and "The Path," opposite Kathleen
is seen in the Christopher Award winning show: "The Jim Gaffigan
Show," opposite Jim Gaffigan. Her film credits include:
“Bringing Out The Dead” with Nicholas Cage, “Freedomland”
opposite Julianne Moore and Samuel L. Jackson, “Carry Me Home”
with Jane Alexander in the Sundance Film Festival award-winning
independent film, “3 Backyards”. She recently
performed in the critically acclaimed play: "Brownsville Song"
at the prestigious Long Wharf Theater.
Raymond M. Guarendi, Ph.D.,
Psychologist, Author, Professional Speaker;
Global Catholic Television Host: “Living
Right With Dr. Ray” / National Radio Host:“The Doctor Is
Dr. Ray is a father of ten (now 16-28 years of age), clinical
psychologist, author, professional speaker, and national radio and
television host. His radio show, “The Doctor Is In” is
heard on over 440 stations and Sirius XM channel 130. His TV show,
“Living Right With Dr. Ray” is aired in 140 countries on
EWTN (Global Catholic Television Network). Most familiarly known as,
“Dr. Ray”, he’s been a regular guest on national
radio and television programs, including: Oprah, Joan Rivers, Scott
Ross Prime Time, 700 Club, Gordon Elliot, and CBS This Morning. In
addition, he’s the program psychologist for Cleveland’s
The Morning Exchange and Pittsburgh 2-Day. Dr. Guarendi’s
diverse professional background includes: school districts, Head
Start programs, mental health centers, substance abuse programs,
inpatient psychiatric centers, juvenile courts, and a private
practice. During the 2016 St. Nicholas Institute, you will learn
practical skills that will enhance your interpersonal effectiveness
with children and their families. As you portray “jolly old St.
Nicholas.” So, be prepared for some active role-playing, too.”
Kevin Hewitt Cinematography Corp.,
Livonia, MI. Kevin
recipient of multiple Emmy
is a highly sought after and respected Director of Photography. He is
unique to the world of cinematography for his truly amazing
in film, video and steadicam.
He owns and operates Kevin
Hewitt Corporation; a
production company he founded
in 1993. As
Kevin has worked on many
feature length films and hundreds of local and national spots.
Also, he has traveled to 29
different countries around
the world photographing everything from a powerful documentary on the
Holocaust, cooking adventures in search of exotic food for the Food
a series of programs on flight for Discovery
to mixed martial arts with M-1
to starting his own business, Kevin worked for the NBC
affiliate WDIV in Detroit.
There he was the Electronic
Field Production Supervisor of
a seven person team filming commercials, documentaries, music videos
and special programming aimed at syndication.
Stepien Productions, Dearborn, MI. Chris
has spent his career as a journalist, asking tough questions and
telling intriguing stories. He's worked as a television
producer-director and writer for the American
Broadcasting Company (ABC). From 1979
while at WXYZ-TV,
he won six
EMMY awards for
sports and celebrity specials, and children's programming,
as well as many other honors. Bible studies, spiritual exercises, and
praying the rosary inspired Chris to write a novel about the young,
pre-teen Jesus: "Three
Days: The Search for the Boy Messiah".
Now in its second printing with Dynamic
the Scripturally-based fictional account of the young Jesus' loss in
the Temple follows in the literary genre of Henry
Other Wise Man." Stepien
relied on his humble love of God and his passion for visual
storytelling to help him shape this account of the Boy
and His Passover pilgrimage that is found in the Gospel
This book will grip your imagination as you explore the Temple and
experience the drama of ancient Hebrew traditions with the boy
Messiah. As Stepien points out: "It's a story for the child in
all of us." In
his most recent text, “Dying to be Happy”, Stepien shares
Christ-centered insights drawn from his personal confrontation with
the mystery of human suffering.”
early 2014, Chris and
Fr. Joseph Marquis,
co- authored the final draft of their original script for the
children's DVD, "Saint
to Santa: How St. Nicholas Became Santa Claus" (released:
Dec. 1, 2014). The
uniquely engaging and entertainingly informative educational
production, featuring live action youngsters, six original puppet
characters and two St. Nicholas songs, was the fruit of a wonderful
collaborative effort between Pauline
Archdiocese of Boston.
Make-Up & Wig Artist, Orlando, Florida. A
third-generation hairdresser, Ron Wolek became an assistant makeup
artist for the New
York City Ballet,
a hairdresser for the Disney
a freelance designer of his own theatrical shows, and in time was
head of the Orlando
department. After obtaining a paid apprenticeship under Tom Blasco,
eventually, in 2007, Ron was hired as Manager
of Entertainment Cosmetology at
In addition, Ron employed his artistic talents during first national
tours of: War
Horse and Motown
His exceptional make-up skills have also been called upon
and (not surprisingly) Disneyland®
where he served as head of their Hair & Makeup Department for: "A
Christmas Fantasy Parade".
Ron Wolek is presently completing work on a book that is likely to
quintessential makeup reference for the professional Santa Claus
and/or St. Nicholas. Both “real” bearded and theatrically
bearded Kris Kringles will benefit from its use-friendly compilation
of makeup techniques, resources and an array of practical
recommendations. The book will be on sale during the 2016 St.
Nicholas Institute, just a few short days following its official
release to the public.
Marquis, Executive Director, St.
Nicholas Institute. He
is pastor of Sacred
Heart Byzantine Catholic Church,
and founder of the St. Nicholas Institute, Livonia,
MI. He served as Director of Pastoral Care at Detroit's Holy Cross
Hospital, and as a resident pediatric chaplain at Children's Hospital
of Michigan. Fr. Joseph is an Emmy Award winning Santa Claus
(Christmas Special with Motown’s legendary 4 Tops and the
Detroit Symphony Orchestra) and also portrayed “St. Nick”
in the Emmy Award winning program, “Santa Goes Back in Time”,
directed by multi-Emmy Award winner, Chris Stepien (WXYZ- ABC TV
–Detroit), in addition to other Emmy nominated productions. His
most recent DVD is “Saint to Santa: How St. Nicholas Became
Santa Claus”. The recipient of several Santa-related awards and
recognitions over the years, Fr. Marquis now marks his 45th Christmas
as a professional St. Nicholas and/or Santa Claus. Fr. Joseph
received is M.Div. degree from Orchard Lake Seminary, Orchard Lake,
MI, and has yet to complete his doctoral degree from Pittsburgh
Director, St. Nicholas Institute. Rev.
Kaufmann is the pastor of Risen Christ Lutheran Church, Plymouth, MI
and a graduate from Northwood University with a BBA (Management) who
continued his graduate work in theology at Moody Theological Seminary
and Concordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne, Indiana. A true
"Renaissance Man" in the field of entertainment for nearly
30 years, Pastor Rennie (a.k.a., “One Man Band”) has
distinguished himself professionally in a variety of venues,
including: numerous private parties hosted by Oprah Winfrey, working
with the legendary Quincy Jones, musical appearances at Walt Disney
World, and appearances on television and radio. Drawing upon his
diverse gifts over and over again, he delights countless audiences
with his warm, upbeat personality, sleight-of-hand magic tricks,
storytelling and improvisational performances that reveal a quick wit
and engaging sense of humor.
to becoming associate director, the Spirit of St. Nicholas Award was
conferred upon him during the annual gala St. Nicholas Institute
Awards Banquet in 2013.