Retreat Team


 John Donahue-Grossman

After receiving his B.S. in Communications and Public Relations from Illinois State University in 1987, he began working with young people, families, and educators, first as a Youth Minister, and then as a high school Teacher and Development Director. Throughout that time, John was thrilled to be called upon to speak to schools, service organizations, hospitals, corporations, and churches. Over the past 28 years, John has spoken to more than two million people.

In 2004, John was recognized for his tireless efforts against intolerance and injustice by Rosa Parks, co-chair for the National Campaign for Tolerance. His name is engraved on the Wall of Tolerance in Montgomery, Alabama.

Since 2010, John has served as Director of Retreats at La Salle Manor Retreat Center in Plano, Illinois, where he gives presentations, directs team building, and facilitates small groups with adolescents and educators.

He has been married to Laureen Donahue-Grossman since 1987, has three adult children, one granddaughter and resides in Big Rock, Illinois.

Diane Mercadante

Diane is the Director of Campus Ministry at St. Francis High School in Wheaton, Illinois and and has over 25 years of youth ministry experience in parish and high school settings. She has a BA in Pastoral Ministry from Dominican University and an MA in Theology from Catholic Theological Union. She is currently a Doctor of Ministry student at Catholic Theological Union in practical theology. She is a certified yoga instructor and frequent workshop presenter in Christian spirituality.

Debbie Debbie Kaczynski

Debbie directs the contemporary ensemble at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in West Dundee, IL and is a piano instructor at the Old  Town School of Folk Music in Chicago. She and her band lead the vibrant worship at the Peer Ministry retreat.


Frank Mercadante

Frank Mercadante is the founder and Executive Director of Cultivation Ministries. He has served over 120 dioceses, hundreds of parishes, and thousands of youth ministers internationally.

Mercadante received a B.A. in Christian Education from Wheaton College and a M.P.S. from Loyola University, Chicago.

Mercadante authored Growing Teen Disciples (Ave Maria Press 1998/St. Mary’s Press 2002), as well as Positively Dangerous. Live Loud, Be Real, and Change Your World (St. Mary’s Press, 2003), and Making It Real. A Practical Resource for Teen-Friendly Youth Evangelization. (St. Mary’s Press, Dec 2004), Engaging A New Generation: A Vision for Reaching Catholic Teens (Our Sunday Visitor, 2012). He also authored Small Group Leader’s Guide for Teens and Small Group Participant Booklet for Teens for Paulist Evangelization Ministries’ parish renewal program, Living the Eucharist (2012).

Frank is the 2008 recipient of the National Youth Ministry Award in Training from the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry. He is married to Diane and has six young adult children and three grandchildren.