Pastoral Challenges in Marriage Conference 2020

Kairos and Chronos


Pastoral Challenges in Marriage Conference


January 22-25, 2020


6 Greenway Plaza,

Houston, Texas 77046

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JAN 22-25, 2020


This conference is for clergy, seminarians, pastoral care workers, mental health professionals, ministry leaders, and all others who minister to Orthodox Christian couples. Although the conference is geared toward a specific audience, all interested lay people are welcome to attend.

Utilizing the expertise of leaders in the field of pastoral care and marriage, the purpose of this conference is to offer people in ministry inspiration, tools, and resources for dealing with the pastoral challenges in marriage they encounter as they serve Christ and His Church. In addition to our keynote presentations and workshops, the conference will offer participants opportunities for formal and informal discussion. It is our hope that participants will leave the conference with a network of people to support them in their ministry.

Early Bird Registration (by November 30)                     $166

Registration (Open until January 15)                             $187

Late and Walk-in Registration                                        $225

One Day Registration Thursday or Friday                     $107

The Speakers





Dn. Michael & Gail Hyatt

Keynote Speakers
And the Two Shall Become One:
God's Three-fold Purpose in Marriage

We live in a world that sees marriage from a self-centered point of view—it’s useful so long as it makes us happy. But the Bible and the Church provide a different perspective. Marriage is designed to bring us closer to Christ, transform us into His likeness, and provide an outpost for ministry to others.

Michael is an influential voice on leadership, business growth, and goal-achievement. The former chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, he is the founder and CEO of a fast-growing, Inc. 5000 leadership-development company. Through his books, blog, podcast, and popular productivity system, the Full Focus Planner, Michael has helped countless leaders and entrepreneurs win at work and succeed at life. Michael has been a deacon in the Orthodox Church for over thirty years and serves on the board of St. Vladimir’s Seminary. You can follow his Sunday school lessons at Ancient Faith Radio.

Gail’s love for life and the people around her is contagious. She’s most passionate about family, hospitality, strengthening marriages, and helping women grow in their faith and self-awareness through lively book discussions and one-on-one mentoring. She can also be found surrounded by books about art, psychology, and spiritual development or painting away in front of her countless canvasses. Together, she and Michael make their home in historic Franklin, Tennessee.

Michael and Gail Hyatt have been happily married for over forty years. They have five grown daughters, three amazing sons-in-law, and nine adorable grandchildren. 


Dn. Stephen Muse, PhD, LMFT, LPC, BCETS, ACS  

Christ’s Eucharistic relation to creation is one which involves being embodied and enduring the risk of pain, loss and betrayal with clarity, forgiveness and full response-ability for the freedom and well-being of those He loves and invites into union. Marriage unfolds its promise within this secure and loving relationship as spouses begin to existentially risk loving and forgiving in the face of adversity, moving toward a faith unashamed and a love unfeigned; the path of sanctification. How do we support couples dealing with adversity and trauma in their personal struggle to be faithful to Christ and one another?

Rev. Dn. Stephen Muse is senior pastoral psychotherapist and Director of Clergy-in-Kairos, a nationally recognized week-long intensive stress and wellness program for clergy and their spouses at the Pastoral Institute, Inc. in Columbus, Georgia.

Fr. Stephen trained and supervised U.S. Army and Air Force Chaplains in pastoral psychological integration for 21 years and has worked extensively with combat veterans, persons experiencing spiritual pain and trauma and with clergy, physicians and therapists suffering professional stress and burn-out. He has an active practice in pastoral psychotherapy and teaches and leads workshops and retreats throughout the U.S. and Internationally in areas related to Orthodox theology and psychotherapy, particularly healing and growth from stress and trauma and marriage as a spiritual path. 

Prior to his entry into the Greek Orthodox Church in 1993, he pastored a Presbyterian congregation for 11 years and helped begin an out-patient psychiatric clinic in Delta, PA. He served on the Assembly of Canonical Bishops Pastoral Praxis Committee, and the OCA task force on Spiritual Abuse. He is past president of the Orthodox Christian Association of Medicine, Psychology and Religion and now serves on their Advisory Board.

Fr. Stephen is the founding church planter and first parish council President of Holy Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church in Columbus, GA where he currently serves as a Deacon. He and his wife Diakonissa Claudia have four children, a grand-daughter and three grandsons. They live in Columbus, Georgia.

Growing Married in the Face of Adversity: Toward a Faith Unashamed and a Love Unfeigned    

Keynote Speaker

Carrie Frederick Frost, PhD

Keynote Speaker

“Glad with the Sight of Sons and Daughters”: How We Understand Children within Orthodox Marriage 

How do we understand children within marriage in the Orthodox Church? This understanding is necessary for our marriages to thrive and for those in ministry to best support parents, or couples who desire to be parents. This will include an examination of the sacrament of marriage, how children connect with the shared pursuit of deification within this sacramental union, and the significance and pastoral concerns for marriages that wish to have children but cannot.

Carrie Frederick Frost is a theologian, trustee, writer, professor, Orthodox Christian, book lover, amateur naturalist, nonprofit coordinator and consultant, friend, wife, and mother of five living in the Pacific Northwest.

Her second book, Maternal Body: A Theology of Incarnation from the Christian East, was published by Paulist Press in June of 2019. Maternal Body places Orthodox sources—icons, hymns, and prayers—on motherhood into conversation with each other. In so doing, this work brings an anchored vision of motherhood to the twenty-first century—especially the embodied experience of motherhood. 


Her first book, published in 2018, The Reception of the Holy and Great Council: Reflections of Orthodox Christian Women, includes thirty essays by an international group of Orthodox Christian women who offer a diversity of responses to the Holy and Great Council of 2016 and meaningful reflections on the conciliar life of the Church at large. 


George Papageorge, LMFT

Getting Love Right: 3 Vital Characteristics of a Healthy Marriage

How we do “boundaries,” where we get our sense of “worthiness’ and the role of “vulnerability” as a path to intimacy are vital to our marriages. This workshop will explore these characteristics of a healthy marriage and how we can support the couples in our ministry build them.

Basil and Nicole Roccas

Infertility in Marriage: Challenges & Opportunities for Orthodox Couples and those who minister to Them
Evening Workshop - Better Marriages from the Inside-Out

Current research describes the modern family as: over thinkers, performance focused and stressed out. Our discussion will  include how sensible psychology and wisdom of the Church guides us to a “Life from the Heart”, leading us to better relationships and healthier marriages and by extension healthier families.

Approximately 15% of married couples face some form of infertility over the course of their childbearing years, including difficulties conceiving, multiple miscarriages, or full-fledged sterility. Evidence from the social and medical sciences suggests that this burden ranks among the biggest grief a couple or individual can 

face. Yet infertility—riddled with unanswered questions, taboos, and difficult choices—is rarely addressed meaningfully in Church or society. What is infertility—medically, psychologically, and theologically? What are the unique challenges faced by Orthodox couples dealing with this issue? How do men and women cope differently with infertility? What should be the aims of pastoral care in situations of infertility? Integrating both theological and spiritual insights with their personal experiences of this grief and its effect on their marriage, they will share practical ways to comfort and minister to other Orthodox couples also dealing with this issue.

George Papageorge is a licensed marriage and family therapist who has been working with couples, families and young people for the past 30 years. As Director of Family Wellness Ministry of the Metropolis of San Francisco, George and the family wellness team are empowering and training parishes in various areas of family life, integrating sensible psychological insights upon a solid Orthodox foundation. George and his wife Kim have two children, Olivia and Petros.

Basil and Nicole Roccas live in the Toronto area and have been married for five years. During that time, they have worked and served in the Church together in a variety of contexts including as catechists and content developers. Basil has a university degree in Psychology, and also completed his seminary training at the Patriarchal Toronto Orthodox Theological Academy; Nicole has her PhD in European History and is an adjunct faculty member at the Orthodox School of Theology at Trinity College in Toronto. She is also the host of the well-known Time Eternal podcast and blog, and the author of Time and Despondency: Regaining the Present in Faith and Life and Under the Laurel Tree: Grieving Infertility with Saints Joachim and Anna. Together, Basil and Nicole host the Ancient Faith podcast, Help My Unbelief, which explores the creative paradox between faith and doubt.  

Fr. Harry and Presvytera Kerry Pappas, LMFT

"And the Two Shall Become One Flesh": What about the Family of Origin?

In this workshop we will explore the biblical foundation of marriage and its implications for the influence of and relationship with the husband and wife's respective family of origin, particularly the common challenges 

they may encounter as they seek to "couple," while continuing to honor and love extended family members.  Finally, we will look at scenarios couples may face and discuss ways in which clergy, pastoral assistants, mental health practitioners, and members of communities of faith can support those who face challenges associated with family of origin.  

Fr. Harry and Pres. Kerry Pappas have been married for 38 years.  Both are graduates of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. Fr. Harry studied the Old Testament following his graduation from seminary and earned a ThD. Pres. Kerry earned a Master's in Marriage and Family Therapy and is a licensed marriage and family therapist.  Fr. Harry serves the Church of the Archangels in Stamford, CT; Pres. Kerry works for the Center for Family Care of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese as the Coordinator for Clergy and Seminarian Couple Care. They have three adult children and five grandchildren.  

Fr. Alexander Goussetis

Marital Conflict: Moving Towards Harmony
and Unity

Marital conflict impacts our mental, physical and spiritual health. What are the roots of relational discord? How can we cultivate behaviors and practices that restore our marital commitment? This workshop will draw from the wisdom of Orthodox tradition together with contemporary literature in the field of 

psychology to provide practical suggestions for conflict resolution and relational growth.

Rev. Alexander Goussetis serves as Director of the Center for Family Care. He is a graduate of Drexel University (B.S. in Accounting), Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology (M.Div.), and Andover-Newton Theological School (D.Min. in Psychology and Pastoral Counseling). Prior to his appointment to the Center for Family Care, Fr. Alexander served more than twenty years as a parish priest, taught World Religion classes at the university level, and authored four books on Orthodox life and faith. His pastoral emphasis is making the Orthodox faith relevant for families in their everyday lives, and encouraging participation in all facets of our Holy Tradition. Fr Alex is the host of the Family Matters podcast series on Ancient Faith Radio. He is married to Presbytera Lisa, and they have three children – Julia, Nicholas, and Sophia.

Fr. Joseph and Presvytera Melanie DiStefano

Ministering to Families with Special Needs

Mental, physical, and cognitive illnesses and challenges in children can put additional strain on married couples. Men and women of varying personality types often cope differently with the added responsibilities and anxieties that come with raising children 

with special needs. The goal of this workshop is to equip clergy and clinicians with knowledge and sensitivity needed to support and encourage “special needs” families in their unique spiritual journeys. Inclusion in parish life is critical to spiritual growth for these families, and for the entire community.

Fr. Joseph and Presv. Melanie DiStefano met, married, and had their son Michael Seraphim when students at Holy Cross School of Theology. They currently serve the community of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Youngstown, Ohio. Presvytera Melanie is Resource Developer for the GOA Center for Family Care.

Presvytera Kristi Marx, LCSW

To Everything There is a Season: Couples & Aging

Perhaps nothing will test a marriage more severely than one’s spouse developing a chronic, long-term illness or disability.  The physical and emotional demands of spousal caregiving are astronomical, but there are ways for caregivers to master new skills, discover the more meaningful aspects of life and marriage, earn greater self-knowledge and grow in their spiritual journey. In 

this workshop we will explore challenges couples face as they age, common barriers that impeded success, and tips and strategies to navigate the complexity of age-related issues.

Presvytera Kristina is a geriatric clinical social worker who has spent over 30 years working with individuals and families as they navigate transitions and prepare for the end of life. Recognizing the changing landscape of aging needs, and the lack of knowledge individuals possessed, she started her part-time private consultation practice, Aging Well Houston, with the hope of educating and guiding individuals through the complexity of elder care issues. Kristi holds a Master of Science in Social Work from the University of Texas and has had extensive postgraduate training in the areas of geriatrics, disabilities, sexual trauma, mood disorders and relationships. She is a sought-out speaker and has been a guest lecture throughout the US. She has made several TV guest appearances for her expertise in Alzheimer’s disease and trauma and has published for the Fifth International Congress of Behavioral Medicine, Copenhagen, Denmark.


Conference Schedule


JAN 22




Opening reception and activity


Small Compline


JAN 23


Morning Prayers




Keynote: Dn. Michael & Gail Hyatt


Workshop Sessions I




Workshop Session II




Transportation to Annunciation


Paraklesis to Sts. Joachim & Anna




Activity: George Papageorge


Transportation back to hotel


JAN 24


Morning Prayers




Keynote: Dn. Stephen Muse


PRAXIS Activity


Lunch and Free Time


Reflection: George Stavros


Free Time






Movie Night


JAN 25


Morning Prayers


Breakfast & Keynote: Carrie Frederick-Frost


Wrap Up

DoubleTree by Hilton

6 Greenway Plaza

Houston, TX 77046








Our Sponsor and Host

The Center for Family Care is funded by a generous grant from Leadership 100. We are grateful for their support.

Annunciation Cathedral has graciously offered to collaborate with the Center for Family Care and host some of the conference events.

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