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St. Thomas the Apostle Church

Freshmen Small Groups

 2018-2019 Freshmen Small Group Information

Leaders & Group Information:

Please note the days, times, and locations are to be considered general meeting times.  As the year gets going, there may be some other service & social opportunities that are promoted by the small group leaders which may be at different times and/or on different days.  Small groups will meet at least once-a-month, but will also likely present at least one other opportunity a month apart from the standard group meeting.

Group Leader(s)                                           Day               Meeting Time         Location

1. Janet Foy & Chris Daraska                    Sundays         12:30-2:00pm           St. Thomas

2. Meg Smith & Mari Walbridge                  Sundays         7:00-8:30pm             St. Thomas

3. Carrie Wujek & Margaret Byrnes            Sundays         7:00-8:30pm             St. Thomas

4. Mari Hargan & Maureen Troke                Mondays         7:00-8:30pm            St. Thomas

5. Chris Gambs & Tamara Affrunti               Sundays         4:30-6:00pm            St. Thomas

6. Chris Cast & Gail Micheau                       Sundays          4:30-6:00pm           St. Thomas

Group Leader Bios:

Group 1:

Ms. Janet Foy – I have lived in Naperville for 23 years with my family. My son and daughter both went through the Confirmation program at Saint Thomas. My daughter is a senior at Metea Valley High school and currently helps with sophomore retreats. I helped teach 6th grade middle school and have taught freshman small group for the last two years. I really enjoy going to Christian concerts with my children. I am very grateful to be helping freshmen in starting the journey to the Confirmation process.

Ms. Christine Daraska – 

Group 2:

Ms. Meg Smith – Hello! I’m going into my 14th year as a Catechist with St. Thomas. I’ve taught First and Second grade, middle school and Freshman Confirmation classes. I have also had the pleasure of being a small group leader with sophomores during their Confirmation retreat. It’s so neat to be able to watch our young people grow in their faith. It’s important as the students navigate high school to know their faith will guide them and they always have that to fall back on. I look forward to guiding the students through their first year of Freshman small group. I will be co-leading with Mari Walbridge. We will be meeting about twice a month on Sundays. Our meetings will tend to consist of attending 6:00 pm Sunday mass, group discussions on different topics that the students may be dealing with and service projects. Thanks for letting me learn from your kids! I look forward to this year!

Ms. Mari Walbridge – Hello! I have been a parishioner at St. Thomas for over 10 years along with my husband, Scott and our two daughters.  I’m going into my 9th year as a Catechist with St. Thomas. I’ve taught First, Third, Fifth and Middle School. I have loved teaching and sharing my faith journey with my kids (and some of yours). I am excited to be moving up to HS. I am co-leading with Meg Smith and this will be our third year together. We will be meeting about twice a month on Sundays. Our meetings will tend to consist of attending 6:00 pm Sunday mass, group discussions on different topics that the students may be dealing with and service projects.  This year will be an adventure into examining what faith means as they all move toward confirmation. If you have any questions I can be reached at

Group 3:

Ms. Carrie Wujek – I have been a catechist at St. Thomas for 5 years, covering both middle school and high school.  My two teenage boys are part of that inspiration and my younger son, Peter will be in our Small Group this year.  I’m really looking forward to Freshman Retreat and starting to build community with our group! We have some great service opportunities coming up too and I am excited about journeying together in this year of transition into High School life and faith.

Ms. Margaret Byrnes – I am very excited to be serving as a small group leader for the Journey Confirmation program. Though my family and I are relatively new to the St. Thomas community, I have been involved in religious education, Christ Renews His Parish, lector programs, and Eucharist ministering in the local community for nearly two decades. I was a confirmation leader for each of my two sons – Liam is a college senior, and Aidan is a high school junior. I have been an RE teacher for my daughter, Keira, a high school freshman, since she was in first grade. God is an active and vibrant part of my life, and I am passionate about helping our youth explore and cultivate their own relationships with God, Jesus, and Spirit as they prepare for the sacrament of Confirmation.

Group 4:

Ms. Mari Hargan – I am thrilled to be serving as a small group leader for the St. Thomas Confirmation Program.   As an Aunt to 20 nieces and nephews, I have had the privilege of guiding, supporting, and loving these kids!  We have also had great times and tons of fun over the years!  To name just a few, I have traveled to El Salvador on a mission trip with my oldest niece, Jeanne (21), have biked across Oregon with my second oldest niece, Caleigh (20), and hung with Clare (18) at the Kenny Chesney concert a few weeks ago.   Suffice to say, I love spending time with my nieces and nephews!   From a service perspective, I have had the honor to work with Downs kids as a Board member at GiGi’s Playhouse, supported families participating in the Bridge Communities program, and served as a Greeter at STA this year.    As a former senior sales executive at Cancer Treatment Centers of America, I mentored many young female and male leaders as we supported thousands of patients through their cancer journey.   It was truly an honor to watch these young leaders grow and evolve.  Our Dear Lord is an important part of my life, and I work daily to strengthen my relationship with Him and evolve my character to one of a more loving and grateful nature!  I look forward to learning from EACH one of you and sharing with you as we prepare for the sacrament of Confirmation.

Ms. Maureen Troke – Hello!  I am looking forward to working with our teens as they prepare for the Sacrament of Confirmation.  I am a mom to two wonderful teens. Megan, is a freshman in college, and Ryan, is a freshman at Naperville Central, and will be part of our small group.  I have been a catechist working with many grade levels over the last 14 years as a parishioner of St. Thomas. I love this age group, and hope to make our small group sessions, a fun, community-building time for our group members.  II recognize how busy our teens lives are yet hope we can make our time together something they look forward to, and to help deepen their faith along the way!

Group 5:

Ms. Chris Gambs – Tamara and I are very excited to take this journey with the first year Confirmation students.  We hope to help them grow in their faith through service, reflection, and even some fun.  We also hope to provide a forum for the students to share their experiences as they navigate high school.  I have been a member of St. Thomas with my husband, Matt, and our two boys for 15 years.  Charlie is a senior at Marmion Academy, and Mike is a Freshman at St. Francis.

Ms. Tamara Affrunti – My husband, Paul, and I have been parishioners of St. Thomas for almost 20 years now.  We have served on various committees over the years but in the most recent years we have been involved in activities that allow us to serve as a family with our 2 teenage kids.  Both our kids attend St. Francis High School in Wheaton.  Bella is a sophomore this year and Ethan a freshman.  Chris and I were inspired by the group leaders our older kids had during their Confirmation process and wanted to work together to create a similar experience for the first year group this year.  We feel very blessed to be a part of their Confirmation journey and look forward to guiding them through this process.

Group 6:

Ms. Chris Cast –

Ms. Gail Micheau – I am excited to lead a small group this year with Chris Cast.  This will be my 4th year leading a freshman group.  I am also involved in Life Retreat Team Ministry helping the high school teens plan the sophomore retreats.   I am looking forward to working with the kids this year as they being their final preparation for Confirmation.  I am also involved with the DuPage Pads ministry and the St. Vincent DePaul Ministry here at St. Thomas.  Chris and I will definitely look to incorporate service opportunities into our year with the small group. My husband Tim and I have been at St. Thomas for almost 21 years. We have a daughter who is a Junior at Hope College and a son who is a sophomore at NNHS.

If you have any questions or would like to volunteer as a small group leader contact Brett in the Youth Ministry Office at 630-355-8980 x 117 or



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