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2017 Guest Instructors



Introducing His Just-Released Book: “The Professional Santa Makeup Manual” Ron Wolek

Approach Professional Make-Up Techniques with a Fresh Perspective!


Ron Wolek (above) to release new book: The Professional Santa Makeup Manual.

Ron Wolek is releasing a book, The Professional Santa Makeup Manual, during our 2017 St. Nicholas Institute. Considering Ron’s extensive background, this text is destined to become THE quintessential makeup reference for the professional Santa Claus and/or St. Nicholas and, of course, Mrs. Clauses.

Both “real” bearded and theatrically bearded Kris Kringles will benefit from the manual’s user-friendly compilation of makeup techniques, resources and an array of practical recommendations.

Save on shipping costs by purchasing The Professional Santa Makeup Manual, while attending the 6th Annual St. Nicholas Institute, Monday, October 2 thru Thursday, October 5, 2017 Institute.

Ron is a widely respected professional make-up artist whose work credentials include creating the make-up beards and wigs for the official Disney Santa Claus who've been seen during ABC's annual, nationally broadcast Walt Disney World® Christmas Day Parade, Orlando, FL.

A third-generation hairdresser, Wolek became an assistant makeup artist for the New York City Ballet, a hairdresser for the Disney Cruise Line, a freelance designer of his own theatrical shows, and in time was head of the Orlando Opera's makeup department. Obtaining a paid apprenticeship under Tom Blasco, a highly esteemed special effects makeup artist in Orlando, FL, he was given practical experience as he worked on several significant projects for Walt Disney World. Eventually, in 2007, Ron was hired as Manager of Entertainment Cosmetology at Disneyland.

In addition to his supervisory experience with Disney, Ron employed his artistic talents during first national tours of: War Horse and Motown the Musical. His exceptional make-up skills have also been called upon by: National Geographic Channel and (not surprisingly) Disneyland® Resort, where he served as head of their Hair & Makeup Department for: "A Christmas Fantasy Parade".

Wolek, shares a wide variety of helpful tips drawn from his career working with Santas in Broadway, TV, and motion pictures. Ron’s Santa credentials include: ABC/Disney Christmas Day Parade, Disneyland's A Christmas Fantasy Parade, Elf The Musical at Atlanta's Fox Theatre, Grinchmas at Universal Studios Orlando, and the upcoming Christmas movie adventure "Doggone Christmas". Most recently, his make-up talents were called upon during the production of the soon-to-be-released Christmas film, “Santa Stole Our Dog!”, starring Ed Asner in the title role of Santa Claus.



Also Back by Popular Demand Veteran New York Actress, Catrina Ganey

Catrina Ganey has recently confirmed that she will return as a special guest instructor for the 6th Annual St. Nicholas Institute (Monday, October 2 thru 5, 2017). Those of you who attended last’s year’s incredible event will remember how much her dynamic persona, rich background in theatre, faith in Jesus Christ combined with contagious spirit of joy made her an instant hit with our Santa Community!


Catrina Ganey (pictured above) as she performs as Maxine Dupuis for an episode of NBC’s Law & Order.”

Ms. Ganey is a teacher, poet and professional actress. She is an Associate Dominican with the Racine Dominicans of Wisconsin. Prior to moving to NY to pursue acting dreams, Ganey was an associate chaplain with Children's Hospital of Michigan in Detroit. She is currently an adjunct lecturer at Laguardia Community College in Queens and the Borough of Manhattan Community College. She is an instructor with Dream Yard Projects in the Bronx where she teaches the art of poetry to middle-school students.

Catrina’s extensive performing credits include appearances in: “The Sopranos”, “Law and Order” and in a variety of outstanding performances on HBO, CBS, NBC. 

Ganey has performed LIVE in a variety of different regional theaters all across the country. She was last seen in the critically acclaimed play: "Brownsville Song" at the prestigious Long Wharf Theater. She appeared on several TV dramas including; CBS’s “Blue Bloods”, HBO’s “Girls”, “Curb Your Enthusiasm”, “The Sopranos”, NBC shows; “Law and Order: S. V. U.”, “Law and Order: Criminal Intent” and “Law and Order”. She has also appeared on the HULU series: “Deadbeat”and "The Path" opposite Kathleen Turner She was also seen in the Christopher Award winning show: "The Jim Gaffigan Show" opposite Jim Gaffigan. Her film credits include: “Nasty Baby” with Kristin Wiig, “Bringing Out The Dead”with Nicholas Cage, “Freedomland” opposite Julianne Moore and Samuel L. Jackson, “Carry Me Home” with Jane Alexander and the Sundance Film Festival award-winning independent film,  “3 Backyards”.

Ms. Ganey is the recipient of the Irene Ryan Acting Award, Audelco Award and was nominated for Best Actress of the Year by the Connecticut Critic’s Choice Award for her work in “Miss Evers Boys”. She has a B.F.A. (Howard University), M.A.(University of Michigan) and studied at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art, London. She attends Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan where she serves as a Scripture reader for their downtown and East side services. Catrina was recognized during the 2016 Annual St. Nicholas Institute Awards Gala, as recipient the Spirit of St. Nicholas Award (category: “Exercising Compassion”) for her outstanding love and dedication in serving disadvantaged children living in Brooklyn, NY. See Catrina, pictured below, during 2016 Awards Gala.



Introducing New SNI Guest Instructor Veteran Clinical Chaplain Fr. Patrick J. Lowery (Western Rite Priest of the Russian Orthodox Church, ROCOR)


Fr. Pat’s Session Theme:

“ ‘When the Student is Ready, the Teacher Will Appear’: Practical Lessons from the School of Suffering”

Fr. Patrick James Lowery was born October 1953 in Dearborn, Michigan, the youngest of four sons. Four years later the family adopted two infant daughters from an orphanage in Korea. Approximately five years after that, two more children were adopted from Korea.

The empathy skills Fr. Pat now calls upon when ministering to those in pain, were forged in the crucible of his own lifelong experience of suffering; beginning with pneumonia, only days after his birth. The pneumonia continued at various times. Eventually, the reoccurring illness was diagnosed as a specific chronic lung disease. Treatment at the time precluded many childhood pastimes such as sports and outdoor activity that most children take for granted. In addition, illness caused much lost time away from school. As he grew into adolescence, he was advised to play a wind instrument to exercise and expand his lungs. He chose the flute. This opened-up a lifelong and deep interest of music.


Another concession to his illness put him on a lifelong journey – Boy Scouts was out, Acolyte/Server at church was in. Assisting at the Altar served to deepen his faith. As a Server, the prayer, and preparation, and ritual would be a help in understanding that Christ suffers with us in our misfortune and tragedy in life. This provided him with solace and comfort As a child and throughout life, doctor visits, hospital stays, and medical procedures caused anxiety and fear, and a sense of feeling inferior and alone.


You may for a time have to suffer the distress of many trials; but this is so that your faith, which is more precious than the passing splendor of fire-tried gold, may by its genuineness lead to praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ appears.” Peter 1:6-7

His secular work included a broad range of experiences, from working at his family’s agricultural business, to teaching at a distressed inner-city Community College and High School. He carries within himself an ever-deepening confidence in God’s unconditional love, a special grace that began in early childhood. This singular grace continues to provide him with a sense of humility, solidarity and empathy, when encountering held tightly in the grip of human suffering.

In his late fifties, physicians said that the state of his lungs had declined to a point where he had about a three-year life expectancy. His only hope of living more than that would be to have a lung transplant. Three years ago, by the grace of God, Fr. Lowery underwent a double lung transplant on a December Sunday after Christmas in 2014. Recovery progressed well and he has, with some ups and downs, been restored to health.


Fr. Lowery now recognizes that all of his life experiences have prepared him for his vocation as an Orthodox Priest. Looking back upon the span of his life with the eyes of faith, he clearly sees that with every challenge faced and with every triumph achieved, the school of suffering was invaluable in shaping the empathy and insights he possesses as he’s ministered to the dying, their families, and the caregivers of the dying in his capacity as a hospice chaplain.

Now retired, Fr. Lowery is enjoying time with his wife, Donna (pictured, above), adult children, and grandchildren. With the blessing of his Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Archbishop, he celebrates Western Rite Divine Liturgy on Sundays with a small group of the faithful in his rectory chapel.


6th Annual St. Nicholas Institute Monday, October 2nd thru Thursday, October 5th, 2017

Conducted at the Beautifully Serene Atmosphere of St. Paul of the Cross Retreat Center, Detroit, MI

Registration Now Closed


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