WFMP 2017


October 26-28, 2017

Conference Speakers Schedule

Thursday, October 26, 2017 7:00 p.m.
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Mark McGowan
Friday, October 27, 2017 8:30 a.m.
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Michael Higgins
Friday, October 27, 2017 9:45 a.m.
Feature Speakers:  Salt + Light Media  &  Chris Bray, Worship Leader


Thursday, October 26, 2017 – 7:00 p.m.

Mark_McGowanMark McGowan is a Professor and Deputy Chair of History at the University of Toronto.

From 2014 to 2016, he served as the Senior Academic Advisor to the Dean of Arts & Science on International matters. Prior to that, he was Special Advisor to the Vice-Provost Students and then Acting Vice-Provost Students at the University of Toronto. From 2002 to 2011, he served as Principal of St. Michael’s College.

Mark has directed Book & Media Studies and the Celtic Studies Programs; he has also won four university teaching awards. Mark specializes in Canadian, Irish, religious and immigration history, particularly the Irish Famine migration to Canada in the 1840s and Irish participation in World War I. In 2009, his book Death or Canada was the basis for a joint award-winning Canada-Ireland docudrama on the Famine, aired in Canada, Ireland, the USA and Britain. His books on Ireland, Canada, immigration, and religion have won numerous prestigious awards.  His fourth book, The Imperial Irish: Canada’s Irish Catholics Fight the Great War, 1914-1918, was published in May 2017.

Within the Catholic educational circles, he is known for his booklet The Enduring Gift: The History of Catholic Education in Ontario and his service, in 2014, as a Trustee with the Durham Catholic District School Board.


Friday, October 27, 2017 – 8:30 a.m.


Michael W. Higgins, a native Torontonian, is an author, scholar, Vatican Affairs Specialist for The Globe and Mail, Papal Commentator for the CTV Network, educator, CBC Radio documentarian, columnist, and former senior academic administrator.

He has served as President and Vice-Chancellor of two Canadian Catholic universities, St. Jerome’s University in the University of Waterloo, Ontario, and St. Thomas University, Fredericton, New Brunswick, and as Vice-President for Mission and Catholic Identity at Sacred  Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut.

He is currently Distinguished Professor of Catholic Thought at Sacred Heart University.

He has edited, co-authored and authored scores of books including The Jesuit Mystique, Power and Peril: The Catholic Church at the Crossroads, Heretic Blood: The Spiritual Geography of Thomas Merton, The Muted Voice: Religion and the Media, Stalking the Holy: The Pursuit of Saint-Making, Suffer the Children Unto Me: An Open Inquiry Into the Clerical Sex Abuse Scandal, Genius Born of Anguish: The Life and Legacy of Henri J. M. Nouwen, The Unquiet Monk: Thomas Merton’s Questing Faith, Jean Vanier: Logician of the Heart.  Several of these books have been translated into French, German, and Italian, many have won awards and been national bestsellers.

A columnist over the years for The Toronto Star, Telegraph-Journal, The Record, and The Catholic Register on media matters, literary issues and Catholicism, he currently has a monthly column on the American Church for the Dublin-based Irish Catholic. He is also a regular contributor to Commonweal (New York), The Literary Review of Canada, and The Tablet (London).

He is the recipient of many awards, including two honorary doctorates, the 2013 Gold Medal for International Radio Documentaries awarded by the New York Festivals, is a Senior Fellow at Massey College, University of Toronto, an International Fellow of the Chester Ronning Centre for Religion and Public Life, University of Alberta, and an Affiliate Graduate Professor of the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas.

He is married to Krystyna, a liturgical musician and writer, and they have four adult children.


Friday, October 27, 2017 – 9:45 a.m.

Chris BrayChris Bray is a full time travelling worship leader and speaker. Having received multiple Gospel Music Association Covenant awards and numerous top 10 and #1 hit songs on Christian radio in Canada, his ministry has spanned North America from headlining the National March for Life rally on Parliament Hill for 25,000 people, the Air Canada Centre, working with great figures such as Peter Furler, Matt Maher, Audrey Assad, Jonny Diaz, Matt Fradd, Jackie Francois, Leah Darrow, Steve Ray, Ralph Martin, Chris Padgett, Fr. Dave Pivonka, involvement in Life Teen, World Youth Day, Steubenville Toronto, NCYC, NCCYM, presenting to tens of thousands each year at hundreds of conferences, retreats, schools and churches.