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Explore the profiles of our leading speakers below!
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dan dematte

Dan DeMatte is the co-founder and executive director of Damascus, one of the fastest-growing youth and young adult ministry movements in the country. He is an international catholic evangelist, bringing the Gospel to thousands of youth and adults each year.  Dan is the author of catholic bestseller, Holiness Revolution, with the Dynamic Catholic Institute. He recently released a new book called Dream Bigger! He is the co-host of Beyond Damascus, a podcast and radio program carried across the EWTN Global Catholic Radio Network. He lives in Ohio with his wife, Amber, and their four children.


Through his work as Executive Director with Damascus and Catholic Youth Summer Camp, Aaron Richards has developed a love for presenting the Gospel message of freedom, dignity, power and identity in a way that is engaging, entertaining, and direct. Aaron is a gifted and personally invested worship leader, musician, teacher, and evangelist, a native of Columbus OH, holds a BS in Theology and Chemistry from Ohio Dominican University, and has 20+ years of experience in professional ministry. He and his wife Monica have worked in leadership with CYSC since 2001 and are raising a mission family with their five beautiful children.

Brad Pierron

Brad Pierron is the Missionary Program Director for Damascus, where he has served for the last seven years. In addition to his oversight of the missionary program, Brad serves as a co-host for Beyond Damascus – our national radio show and podcast, and he speaks to thousands every year. As a missionary formator, he is passionate about restoring a heart of mission and purpose in the Church today, and as a product of Southern Ohio, his ideal day would include a sporting event, a truck bed, and a large glass of sweet tea. He and his lovely wife, Nina, were married in August of 2020, and they currently reside in Lewis Center, OH, with their daughter.

Monica Richards

Monica Richards, a full-time missionary with Damascus, wife and mother of five, and licensed Doctor of Clinical Psychology, has an amazing ability to drill fearlessly into deep issues, develop trust, and facilitate pathways toward healing and wholeness for each individual she encounters. She has developed, especially through her study and work with the Theology of the Body Institute and the John Paul II Healing Center, a love for presenting the Gospel of freedom, dignity, power and identity in a way that is engaging, entertaining, and direct. She and her husband Aaron share a combined 30+ years of experience in professional ministry and have worked in leadership with Catholic Youth Summer Camp and Damascus since 2001.

amber dematte

Amber DeMatte walks into every room with an on-fire love for God and his children. As Amber speaks, she compellingly and lovingly engages with our identity as sons and daughters of God to awaken the Church to who she really is. Amber is a Damascus Missionary and lives in Columbus, OH with her husband, Dan, and their four children.

Sam halligan

Sam Halligan is a dynamic Catholic speaker with a passion for revitalizing the Church. With an infectious sense of humor and powerful conviction, Sam engages audiences with his unique blend of fun and passion. Sam has a hunger to help create an atmosphere for encounters with Jesus to flourish. Sam is a graduate of Benedictine College with degrees in Theology and Evangelization. Since serving in full-time ministry he has spoken to over 10,000 individuals and speaks to thousands every year, making him not only a highly sought-after speaker but a true preacher and evangelist for this generation. When Sam is not traveling and speaking, he is a dedicated and committed husband to Whitney and father to their two sons: Judah and Leo. He is working on his dad jokes, and loves breakfast tacos, golf, reading, CrossFit and short walks on the that order.

Noah Gilchrist

Noah is a missionary and ministry leader at Damascus. In his junior year of High School, Noah encountered Jesus and His Church in a powerful way at the March for Life and has never turned back. Since 2014, Noah has spoken to thousands of youth through serving with NET Ministries for one year and now Damascus for seven years. Noah’s greatest passion is to see the Church place relationship with Jesus at the forefront through making prayer her number one priority.

Emily Knuth

Originally from Rockford, IL, Emily Knuth moved to Ohio in 2017 after she felt a call from the Lord to serve as a missionary with Damascus. Her conversational and interactive style of speaking creates a family living room feel, regardless of audience size. Emily is passionate about people knowing/learning the voice of the Lord, living in their true identity, serving those with special needs, and women’s ministry. When people know the voice of Truth, everything changes!

A.J. D'Angelo

A.J. D’Angelo is a Catholic speaker and serves as the director of operations at Damascus, home of Catholic Youth Summer Camp. A.J.’s passion for teaching and leadership directs his work ethic and mission. He teaches with authority, freedom, and integrity, and specializes in instruction on virtue, discipline, sustaining conversion, discernment, and St. Ignatius of Loyola. He has taught missionary formation for five years at Damascus. A.J. and his wife Victoria have worked in leadership with Catholic Youth Summer Camp and Damascus, and are raising a missionary family with their two children.


For the past six years, MarySarah Menkhaus has dedicated her time to missionary service with Damascus. Over the course of twelve years, it has been her joy to serve the Church in anything from the parish choir, to sweeping the floors, to team management. MarySarah's extensive experience lends depth to her position as a worship leader and speaker, showcasing her versatility in effectively connecting with audiences spanning various age groups. Her fervor for teaching people how to live in relationship with God underscores her commitment to nurturing spiritual growth and fostering community wherever she goes.


Abby was born and raised in Columbus and has been with Damascus for five years. She has a passion for showing God's people the truth about who they are and of who God is. She has experience speaking to the youth of the Church, young adults and to women through the Damascus Women's retreat.

conall hughes

Conall combines a high energy presence with witty humor to engage all ages of the Church. As an evangelist, Conall is fervent to present Jesus as irresistible to the human heart. As an exhorter, he burns to awaken the Church to a God worth giving everything for. A graduate of Franciscan University and student at University of Mary, Conall contends for excellence in Christian ministry. God is better than you think!


Gabriel Gessler is experienced speaking on topics such as marriage, masculinity, growth in virtue and the intersection of life and holiness. Gabriel is married to his beautiful wife Sarah and holds a degree in International Business from Franciscan University of Steubenville. He has served at Damascus for five years and works now as the Strategic Partnerships Manager.

Fr. william Slattery

Father William J. Slattery, PhD, STL, born in southern Ireland, was ordained by Saint Pope John Paul II to the priesthood in St Peter’s Basilica in 1991. Fluent in French, Spanish, and Italian, he has also studied four other languages and obtained his PhD at the Gregorian University and his STL at the Lateran. A specialist in modern and postmodern worldviews, he has published philosophical and historical works in English and French,has been interviewed on EWTN TV in the USA and in France by CNNews, KTO, and TVLibertés. He has worked on three continents from New York to Quebec to Mexico City and iscurrently editing a series of books for publication as well as being adjunct Professor of Philosophy at the Pontifical Josephinum College of Liberal Arts. His main philosophical work is The Logic of Truth (Leonardo da Vinci, Rome, 2016). His chief cultural-historical analysis is Heroism and Genius (Ignatius Press, 2017) which was published in an edited version in French as How Catholics built a civilization(Paris:Editions Mame, 2020). On its way to publication is his  book, Ultramodern Organic Catholicism: Why It Revolutionizes Worldview and Reenchants Lifestyle with a foreword by Mark Wahlberg.

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