Department of Evangelization and Mission Staff Members

Department of Evangelization and Catechesis

John Gaffney, Team Director, Adult Evangelization and Leadership Formation

Reachable by phone, 515-237-5026, or email

Responsibilities include:

  • direct the Evangelization and Mission daily operations and staff
  •  provides strategic direction and leadership to enact the Diocesan Strategic Plan’s mission and vision through the efforts of the Diocese of Des Moines’ Pastoral Council and the Pastoral Priority Commissions.
  • leads a diverse team of professionals in achieving goals to enhance missionary zeal within parish communities throughout the Diocese of Des Moines. 
  •  provides resources, formation and consultation around parish adult faith formation programming
  • provides lay ecclesial ministry formation especially in the formation of catechetical leaders and catechists, directors of youth ministry and volunteers, and adult faith formation directors which includes portions of RCIA team formation
  • oversees catechetical services which continually reviews resources for use in parish and school formation children and teen programming

Adam Storey, Marriage and Family Life, Vice Chancellor

Reachable by phone, 515-237-5056, or email

Responsibilities include:

  • Vice Chancellor:
  • undertakes tasks and special assignments assigned by the Bishop to be completed in a timely manner.
  • serves as a member of the Bishop’s Senior Leadership Team and participate in weekly leadership meetings with Bishop and Chancellor.
  • provides canonical expertise, including guiding legal processes and preparing legal documents.
  • Marriage and Family Life:
  • advocates for the advancement of marriage and family priorities throughout the Diocesan strategic direction and parish and regional level operations.
  • supervises the mission team element of the Evangelization and Mission Team.
  • coordinates marriage preparation and enrichment programs throughout the diocese.

Sherri Simmer, Administrative Assistant

Reachable by phone, 515-237-5058, or email

Responsibilities include:

  • performs general clerical and administrative support for the Evangelization and Mission Team.
  • responds to inquiries and provides standard information regarding procedures, policies and services of the Evangelization and Mission Team.
  • designs various media, publications, and team materials along with creating and maintaining directories and databases. 

Jessica Pancho, Youth Evangelization

Reachable by phone, 515-237-5051, or email

Responsibilities include:

  • implements diocesan pastoral plan for youth promoting lifelong faith formation
  • advocates a vision of comprehensive youth ministry as part of the USCCB vision.
  • fosters adult faith formation focused on discipleship youth ministry
  • provides formation for parish leaders in Confirmation and Sacramental preparation

Justin White, Young Adult Evangelization

Reachable by phone, 515-237-5058, or email

Responsibilities include:

  • directs the efforts of young adult volunteers to plan and execute various outreach and evangelization efforts throughout the Diocese.
  •  oversees the ongoing recruiting and formation of a young adult team(s) dedicated to meeting some of the retreat needs of the Diocese.
  • fosters relationships of listening, mentoring, and counseling for parishes making concerted efforts at outreach to young adults in their community.
  • coordinating national and international pilgrimages for young adults

Father Protas Okwalo, SJ, Diocesan Campus Ministry Director

Reachable by phone, 515-650-8646, or email

Responsibilities include:

  • Programming primarily for college age students in the Diocese
  • Pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Student Center

Alexis Nicholson, Digital Evangelization Specialist

Reachable by phone, 515-237-5054, or email

Responsibilities include:

  • Lead the curation, development, and presentation of compelling digital content that brings to life the beauty, goodness, and truth of the Catholic faith.
  • Collaborate with other internal and external stakeholders to foster a digital strategy that drives engagement of Catholics with this content.
  • Contribute content to the various priorities of the Communication’s team in support of the work of the Bishop and the Evangelization and Mission Team.

Mayra Moriel de Banuelos, Hispanic Ministry

Reachable by phone, 515-237-5011, or email

Responsibilities include:

  • collaborate and advocate on behalf of Hispanic residents to enhance the pastoral care of the Hispanic Community and promote the dignity of Hispanics in the parish communities.
  • promote the evangelization message of the Diocese of Des Moines communicating the teachings of the Church more boldly and clearly.
  • promote leadership and faith formation among the Hispanic laity.
  • serve as a consultant to the Bishop, Communication team, Diocesan Pastoral Council and Strategic Commissions, Presbyteral Council, and Parish Leadership on the issues and challenges of the Hispanic community.

Patty Origer, Persons with Disability Ministry

Reachable by phone, 515-237-5073 or email

Responsibilities include: 

  • direct regular operations of the Disability Ministry program. 
  •  advocate for children and adults with disabilities across the diocese and in the community.
  • encourage access for those with special needs to appropriate formation, sacramental preparation, liturgy, and other events around the diocese and at the parish-level.
  •  facilitate ASL interpreting services at Diocese events and Deaf community parish Masses.

John Huynh, Director of Social Justice

Reachable by phone, 515-237-5006, or email

Responsibilities include:

  • providing strategic leadership to advance the social justice mission and vision of the Diocese of Des Moines and Catholic Charities
  • engaging with diocesan parishes to advance Catholic Social Teachings and social justice works
  • engaging local and national Catholic organizations on social justice matters
  • providing oversight of respect life and social justice advocacy
  • coordinating disaster relief actions associated with targeted response and delivery needs
  • developing and delivering formation opportunities on Catholic Social Teaching and advocacy skills
  • managing digital communication resources related to social justice matters
  • advocating for respect life and related social justice activities, including engagement with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD)