Meet the team members of The Camino Project
Founder & Chief Executive Officer
Veteran pilgrim, passionate Catholic, Chicago guy, dog lover, sports fan (Cubs, Bears, Blackhawks, Irish, Bulls). Read more
Tommy Burke Biography
Tommy Burke is a cradle Catholic, native Chicagoan, veteran pilgrim, and the executive director of The Camino Project. In the midst of a successful career in the world of finance, he felt a strong call to step away from the hustle of business and walk the Camino de Santiago in an effort to connect with his Catholic faith. “It started to feel like the Cubs winning the World Series, I would always tell myself ‘I’ll walk the Camino next year... one day it will actually happen’”. After nearly 10yrs of Camino dreaming, Tommy departed for the Camino in May of 2017, 7 months after the Cubs had finally become World Series Champions.
He started his pilgrimage in the ancient pilgrim gateway of Le Puy en Velay and made the +1,000 mile journey to the visit the remains of St. James the Greater, Apostle of Christ. While on pilgrimage, the Lord put it in his heart to bring this experience to young Catholics in a way that would benefit the Church and distressed communities in Chicago. Upon returning, he founded The Camino Project and remains passionately dedicated to overseeing its mission. He dedicates his charity work to his grandparents John & Marilyn Burke, saying “after God and the Holy Family, they are my primary inspiration and whatever I do in this life that is good, I do it to honor them”.
Director of Communications
The Mexican Marie Kondo, Pilates practitioner, plant lover, Catahoula dog owner, pilgrim of life. Read more
Gabriela Burke Biography
Gaby, was born and raised in a big Catholic family (6 kids... 5 girls and 1 boy) in Monterrey, Mexico. Her family paid a pivotal role in the formation of her faith by keeping Christ at the center of all things in their daily life at home. She was educated in a Catholic school entrusted to Opus Dei which strengthened the faith foundation she received at home while offering a great education.
She has been in Chicago for over 3 years and has been attending St. Andrew Parish in the Northside of Chicago for over a year and has loved being a part of such a vibrant neighborhood parish!
Gaby volunteered for 2 years at the Metro Achievement Center which provides tutoring, formation, and virtue based mentoring to girls from underprivileged families. She volunteers as a seminar leader and mentor for Pivot, a program that positions young women to be innovative thinkers, virtuous leaders, other-centered and truth seekers. Finally, she teaches Religious Education to third graders at her home parish.
Gaby believes a pilgrimage is an adventure of a lifetime, just like the journey we are all called as Catholics to follow. The Camino Project is forming the future leaders of our Church. It is a fantastic opportunity for young ones and not-so-young ones to invest with their talent, time and treasure in the rebuilding of the Church and communities in Chicago!
Director of Admissions
- email firstname.lastname@example.org
Bicyclist, power lifter, chef of sorts, optimist. Read more
Dan Tucci Biography
Dan Tucci came to Catholicism late in life, having received the Word from the Holy Spirit on October 13, 2011. After receiving the three sacraments at the Easter Vigil of 2012, Dan has been very active at his home parish as a sacristan, lector, Eucharistic Minister, usher, and RCIA sponsor. In addition, he is a 4th degree Knight of Columbus and has been a member with the Knights since 2012.
Dan is the Director of Admissions for The Camino Project due to his experience with Admissions and Financial Aid for various universities in his professional life. In addition, he assists with Faith Formation because he loves to read the Church doctors and pretend their ideas are his.During his free time, Dan can be found making all kinds of ethnic foods (Indian is his favorite), purchasing all the equipment for a complete Bob Ross painting kit, and exploring various musical rabbit holes on Youtube.
Director of Membership and Formation
Patience, providence, heavenly prosperity. Read more
Eric Phillips Biography
I was born an April 26th 1987 on Chicago’s south-side to a Catholic family. I was my parents second child, only being preceded by a sister who was born a year earlier than myself. By the age of three, I became the oldest child as my sister had passed away and my parents, were given another child, another son who was two years younger than I. By 1992, my parents had divorced and my brother and I found ourselves spending certain weekends specifically with our mother, and others specifically with our father. The times spent with both parents were different yet poignant. I knew that when I would visit my father I would learn much about history. Rather it be World history, American History, Hollywood history etc. there would be a history lesson. The time spent with my mother helped establish prayerful habits that have never left me. Such as praying before I go to sleep, praying before I eat (no matter how small the potion, even one skittle), praying before I drink, praying in crisis, and praying just to say thank you. A point was made to pay reverence to God, to love God, and to fear God.
By the age of five or six, I was enrolled at St. Margaret of Scotland, a Catholic grammar school on the south-side of Chicago. I stayed at this Catholic institution from kindergarten to 8th grade. My time at this school shaped my view of Catholicism for years to come. The school, being predominantly African-American for all my tenure there, shaped my thinking that to be African-American and Catholic was completely acceptable to most, if not all African-Americans. I also had the assumption that all the students at the school were Catholic and by extension, their parents too. Thus, I did not have an impression that being Catholic, would In some sense, ignite any type of religious animosity for I myself, did not experience any as a child. I learned the Our Father, how to pray the rosary, Nicene Creed, and committed them to memory. I and my classmates on certain days of the month, went to Confession, and I did this not thinking that this is what Catholics do, but what Christians do. By the time I reached my last month in 8th grade I was comfortable in the very Catholic things I did by habit, such as going to Mass, Confession, praying the rosary, but I did not understand why I did them except that, in some way, it is pleasing to God. I took these things for granted, yet I felt that if I wanted to explain them I could, because I felt I had a gift for understanding what is hard to understand and then explaining them through speaking or writing. Nevertheless I, contracted a spirit of laziness, and thus, I decided that there was no need to apply myself fully as some way and some how I, by maintaining mediocrity, would be okay in life.
In the fall of the year 2001, I attended Marist High school on the far south-side of Chicago. I spent all my four years there and, educationally speaking, it was a great institution. Culturally, it was a shock as it was predominantly white with very few African-American students. I also came to the understanding that I could no longer assume that all the students were Catholic. As I found out, some were even atheist or agnostic. I heard racial epithets that weren’t intended for me to hear from other students. Sometimes these epithets were from white students about black people or about people of another ethnicity (often time about those who identify as Jewish). I also heard African-American students use racial epithets against those students who identify as white. As far as the administration of the school is concerned, I never felt a prejudiced attitude from them. What lies at the heart of people, God only knows, but I can only make judgements on what has been revealed to me.
One of my most impressionable teachers in High school was Dr. Bello. To me, his class was the epicenter of Catholic school. He was my freshmen religion teacher and knew much about the Catholic faith. He helped me take pride in our faith and wanted his students to go from children to adults with an attitude of seriousness. One of his most poignant actions was his directing us where else to go regarding any questions to our faith and what we believe. He gave us the Vatican’s website and I placed it in memory. He provided me much information that was intellectually and theologically enriching, but there was still no sense of urgency within myself to have what I learned transform me. I thought it was beautiful to look at and study from a distance, but I did not apply it to my life as a challenge.
I graduated from High school in the year of 2005 and entered college at Hampton University in Virginia. After going to 3 other universities, I finally received my Bachelors in Business Administration in Winter of 2011. The six year period between 2005 and 2011 was a true wake up call for me as reality struck me in the face. I learned that mediocrity is a perfectly fashioned attitude for failure, long and drawn out. This reality though had me look more serious about my faith. When one struggles to pay bills and to make it to work and complete their goals when understanding the strength of all the obstacles in their path, one can’t help but recall those sweet words from their mother, father, priest, friend: “Don’t forget to say your prayers”, “Did you go to Church today?”, “You belong to God”, ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…”. It was these short phrases, short memories, that ignited my passion to find the reasons for what I believe in the midst of being fatigued by a hectic work and school schedule within those six years.
I made it a personal pastime to investigate my faith. Yet, at this point in my life, I felt that all I needed to know was the mere basics of Christianity, not necessarily those things we hold true as Catholics. Yet, in this pursuit, I encountered much animosity towards Catholicism by Protestants, but, I continued to brush it off as minor squabble until one day, I, acting in a capacity of a Christian apologist, encountered a verse of scripture I could not find an explanation. Psalm 137:8-9, “O Daughter of Babylon, miserable: blessed shall he be who shall repay thee thy payment which thou hast paid us. Blessed be he that shall take and dash thy little ones against the rock.” I read this and looked everywhere for an interpretation. I started by listening and reading many Protestant sources that simply never questioned this verse or interpreted this verse as simply something that took place in a time of war. The day came, when I finally discovered the richness of our faith. I was listening to a talk by, at the time, Fr. Barron. I forget as to what the subject matter of the talk was, but he, at some point mentioned this verse that gave me much frustration. He then stated that an ancient man by the name of “Origen” explained it in this way, “For ‘the little ones’ of Babylon (which signifies confusion) are those troublesome sinful thoughts which arise in the soul and he who subdues them by striking, as it were, their heads against the firm and solid strength of reason and truth, is the man who ‘dasheth the little ones against the stones’ and he is therefore truly blessed.” I had searched everywhere else for an interpretation to this, and it was in the Catholic Tradition all the time. I became humbled at the fact this ancient man was able to interpret it better than any modern day Christian apologist. I then read more of his works and became more captivated by his ability to interpret scripture. He was doing what I longed to do. So, I started to read his contemporaries to see if they too had the gift he had, and to much of my amazement, they did and they were all Catholic.
Often times, we ask questions of what God has already answered by way of the Sacred Tradition of the Church. It takes humility to learn by this way. I started to read more and more Catholic writers and found out that their theology was unmatched. It takes a certain type of person to read the testimonies of all the saints and martyrs that came before who were willing to sacrifice all they had to share the faith and not feel obligated to take the faith seriously. So, the more I read and learned about our faith, through those that lived it, I became inspired to also take up my cross and follow, with passion, Christ and His Church. I have so much growing to do, and so many faults that need to be amended but, I know now, Catholicism isn’t just a religion, it isn’t just a faith, it is a culture, above all cultures, for the body, soul, and mind given to us by Christ himself.
Director of Finance
Veteran pilgrim, treasury professional, local musician. Read more
Chris Kelle Biography
Chris is the Director of Finance and Treasurer for The Camino Project. He has been working in Corporate Treasury for the past 10 years and has also devoted much of his time toward assisting non-profits with fundraising and other operational activities. During his time off, he entertains his passion for music and the outdoors. He grew up in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago and now resides in the North Center neighborhood where he sing in the Choir at Saint Benedict’s.
Chris walked the Camino Frances in 2016 from Saint Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela and finished in the town of Finisterre, the End of the World. He left his job of 8 years because even though everything seemed to be going right at the time, he had a hard time finding meaning in my life. He embraced the unknown and embarked on a 40 day pilgrimage and suddenly started to feel a greater purpose in his life immediately after making that decision. He truly believes that with a sense of greater purpose in life, we can achieve anything we set our hearts to accomplish. This is why Chris is committed to offering the same opportunity to our youth through the efforts of The Camino Project.
Director of Technology
Software developer, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner, Knight of the Holy Sepulchre, motorcycle rider. Read more
Matt Janiszewski Biography
Matt is a software developer veteran, with over ten years of experience, and has joined The Camino Project in the role of Director of Technology. He’s developed a passion for motorcycles and jiu-jitsu, has joined the Knight of the Holy Sepulchre, and serves as an usher at his parish.
His other skills and hobbies involve snowboarding, adroitly cooking steaks, driving stick-shift, weight-lifting, and reading books.
He is a life-long Catholic, and is looking for a way to serve the Church and the faithful in a way that will make a lasting impact on the community.