St Nicholas Institute, Santa School Michigan, Santa Claus Training, Santa Claus School

Register for the 2017 Seminar!

“Where the North American St. Nicholas Revolution Began”







2016 Guest Instructors (In Alphabetical Order)

Dr. Adam English, Chair of the Department of Christian Studies and Professor of Theology and Philosophy at Campbell University, Campbell University,Buies Creek, N.C. Author: “The Saint Who Would be Santa Claus” (Baylor University Press, 2012)

Dr. Adam C. English serves as Chair of the Department of Christian Studies and Professor of Theology and Philosophy at Campbell University Buies Creek, NC . His interests include constructive, confessional theology and, in particular, areas that reveal how the early church thought and practiced the faith.

In his book, The Saint Who Would Be Santa Claus, English tells the true and compelling tale of Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Myra Noted author, Greg Garrett, well summarized: Adam English’s real gift is in resurrecting, through his painstaking historical detective work, a flesh-and-blood St. Nicholas whose courage and Christian generosity are worthy of emulation.”

Of his personal quest for discovering the truth about St. Nicholas of Myra, Dr. English now reflects: “In my four years of researching Nicholas I have come to understand that although the man may be long dead, his memory not only survives, but thrives. Whether on Christmas Eve when American children watch eagerly for Santa's sleigh, or on Dec. 5 when Sinterklaas comes to the Dutch Netherlands riding a white horse, or in mid-June when thousands of Russians make pilgrimage to Velikoretsky in homage to the saint, or on Whitmonday when in France hundreds and hundreds process to the cathedral of Saint-Nicolas-de-Port, Nicholas continues to be celebrated and revered. There is something to be learned from history, from legend and from faith.”

Having developed an increasing appreciation for the many traditions that this 4th Century Christian figure has inspired, Dr. English observes: “We modern people have problems with things we can't compartmentalize: a story is either fact or fiction, true or false, legendary or historical, but we cannot imagine that it could be both. … More than a footnote to the legend of Santa Claus, Nicholas is a model of Christian kindness, an inspiration for charity and a saint to be remembered. He challenges us at this time of year to give not only to those we know and love, but also to those we do not know and especially to those who find themselves in need.”

Originally from Texas, Dr. English resides in Lillington, North Carolina with his loving wife, Charissa, and their 14 year old daughter, Cassidy. He graduated from Hardin-Simmons University as a double major in English and Theology, then from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary with the MA in Theology, and finally with a PhD from Baylor University. He has done advanced research at St. Olaf College in Minnesota, Université Catholique de Louvain-la-Neuve in Belgium, and at the Centro Studi Nicolaiani in Italy. Dr. English is the Department Chair, Christian Studies, Campbell University,Buies Creek, N.C. He is the author of “The Saint Who Would be Santa Claus” (Baylor University Press, 2012) and “Theology Remixed”, (InterVarsity Press, 2010).

Dr. English’s newest book, Christmas: Theological Anticipations, will be released to the public in plenty of time to the our hearts for the Nativity of Jesus Christ (Cascade Press, fall 2016).

Not only is Dr. English a committed intellectual, he is a licensed and ordained Baptist minister, and has served at various times as Interim Pastor, Youth Minister, and Children’s Minister. Dr. English preaches regularly in area churches in addition to facilitating his home church’s 1-4 grade Sunday School.

Dr. English is the 2013 recipient of the “Spirit of St. Nicholas Award” for personally embodying the St. Nicholas Institute’s Core Value of: “Nicholas as Our Model.”

Catrina Ganey, Professional Stage & Screen Actress / Teacher / Poet

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.  

New York City based actress, Catrina Ganey, whose credits include appearances in: “The Sopranos”, “Law and Order” and in a variety of outstanding performances on HBO, CBS, NBC will be one of our special guest instructors this October.

Catrina has performed 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 TurnerShe 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”.

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

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. 

Ms. Ganey is the recipient of the Irene Ryan Acting Award and Audelco Award.

Raymond M. Guarendi, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist, Author, Professional Speaker Global Catholic Television Host: “Living Right With Dr. Ray” / National Radio Host:“The Doctor Is In”

Dr. Ray Guarendi 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.

Living Right with Dr. Ray” is broadcast each week onEWTN (Global Catholic Television Network).

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.

“My aim is to help parents raise great kids by strengthening self-confidence in parents, and as they reclaim legitimate authority into their hands, where it belongs.

To paraphrase a wise person: “Parenting is too important to be taken seriously”. So we’ll also relax and laugh, whenever and however we can.

I am a father of 10… Honest! Their ages range from 16 through 28 years. So, you can appreciate why, as a clinical psychologist, author, public speaker and national radio and television host, families have been my life.

During his “Living Right with Dr. Ray Christmas Special”, Guarendi extends a hearty Yuletide welcome to “jolly old St. Nicholas.”

During the 2016 St. Nicholas Institute, you will learn practical skills that will enhance your interpersonal effectiveness with children and their families. Together we’ll also explore the positive symbolic meaning that so characterizes “jolly old St. Nicholas.” Be prepared for some active role-playing, too.”

Guarendi has written many books. His first book, You’re a Better Parent Than You Think!, is now in its 28th printing.

His other books include: Back to the Family; Discipline That Lasts a Lifetime; Good Discipline, Great Teens; Adoption: Choosing It, Living It, Loving It; Marriage: Small Steps, Big Rewards; Winning the Discipline Debates; Fighting Mad and When Faith Causes Family Friction.

Lights, camera, action!” By popular demand, the St. Nicholas Institute is pleased to announce that 6 time Emmy Award winning director, Chris Stepien, world class cinematographer, Kevin Hewitt, and multi-talented makeup artist, Ron Wolek, will each contribute their unique talents in preparing “men and women in red” for all new individual video recordings. New York actress, Catrina Ganey, will also be on hand this year to add her own professional expertise.

Kevin HewittDirector, Kevin Hewitt Cinematography Corp., Livonia, MI

Kevin Hewitt, the recipient of multiple Emmy Awards, is a highly sought after and respected Director of Photography. He is unique to the world of cinematography for his truly amazing proficiency in film, video and steadicam. He owns and operates Kevin Hewitt Corporation; a production company he founded in 1993

As a Director of Photography, 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 Network, a series of programs on flight for Discovery Channel, to mixed martial arts with M-1 Global

Prior 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.

Rarely seen in front of a camera, Kevin Hewitt possesses an amazing proficiency with film, video and steadicam.

Chris StepienDirector, Stepien Productions, Dearborn, MI

Chris Stepien (pictured above) working on his first book: “Three Days: The Search for the Boy Messiah.” His latest book, “Dying to be Happy” was recently released.

Chris Stepien, 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 to 1987, while at WXYZ-TV, ABC (Detroit), he won six EMMY awards for his documentaries, 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 Catholic publishing, the Scripturally-based fictional account of the young Jesus' loss in the Temple follows in the literary genre of Henry VanDyke's durable 1895 classic,"The 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 Messiah, and His Passover pilgrimage that is found in the Gospel of Luke. 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." Click here to visit the Three Days web site

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. Order the book from Amazon!

Chris Stepie, Director, Stepien Productions co-authored the script for the new DVD , "Saint to Santa" with St. Nicholas Institute founder, Fr. Joseph Marquis.

In early 2014Chris and St. Nicholas Institute founder, 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 Media, Boston, andCatholic Television Network, Archdiocese of Boston. The DVD features several extras, including two music videos. Purchase "Saint to Santa" online

Demonstrating a previously untapped acting ability, Chris became the voice for a grumpy old elf named, "Smitty." It has been speculated by Stepien that Smitty could have been "separated from birth" from William Frawley (a.k.a.: Fred Mertz on "I Love Lucy"). Asked to describe the finished product, Stepien playful remarked: "It's a combination of The Muppets, Laugh-In, and a 'sit-down' with St. Nicholas."

Ron Wolek, Professional Make-Up & Wig Artist, Orlando, Florida

Ron Wolek (pictured above) working his magic with his beard and wig creations.

Ron Wolek 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".

Ron Wolek is presently completing work on a book that is likely to become the 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.

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".

2016 St. Nicholas Institute at St. Paul of the Cross Retreat Center
Monday, Oct. 3rd thru Thursday, Oct. 6th


“Early Bird” Enrollment Discount Ends:
Monday, August 1, 2016

“Where the North American St. Nicholas Revolution began.”







Copyright© 2011-2015 - St. Nicholas Institute - Livonia Michigan