The Catholic Information Center offers a deeper and more reflective awareness of the faith for those who are already members of the Catholic Church. We also invite seekers from other faiths or no faith at all to an understanding of the teachings and way of life of the Catholic Church. Our courses are offered in the welcoming spirit of the Paulist Fathers whose mission is to give the Good News of Jesus a voice in today’s world.
Fr. René Constanza, CSP
Fr. Rene is a member of the Missionary Society of St. Paul the Apostle (Paulist Fathers) and Executive Director of the Catholic Information Center. Fr. Rene was born in Belize and is the 7th of 9 children. He did his undergraduate studies at Spalding University and graduate studies in higher education administration at the University of Louisville in Kentucky. Prior to getting his Masters of Divinity (with concentration on Hispanic Ministry) at the Catholic University of America in D.C. and being ordained a priest in 2012, he was principal of a Catholic diocesan high school in Belize.
Fr. Rene has a passion for evangelization, young adult ministry, Hispanic ministry and ecumenism, which was fueled by Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, “The Joy of the Gospel” where Pope Francis highlights the importance of Christians to put aside suspicion and work to build trust as “pilgrim people journeying alongside one another.”
Phone: 616.459.7267 ext.1810
Director of Marketing, Communications and Public Relations
Kelly is responsible for communication strategy, branding, and marketing across various media outlets. She received her B.A. in Communications from Michigan State University. Her background is in customer service, sales training and product marketing. Kelly also serves on the Board of Directors for the First Tee of West Michigan.
Phone: 616.459.7267 ext.1809
Irene Strom, M.A.T.
Director of Programming
Irene has been with the Catholic Information Center for 40 years. Irene received her B.A. in Education and M.A. in the Art in Education from Aquinas College. She is responsible for the development, execution and follow up for CIC programming and special events. Irene also designs the CIC program guides and brochures.
Phone: 616.459.7267 ext.1801
Karen is responsible for hospitality, database management, scheduling and calendar systems, social media updating, and coordinating materials and information for meetings, events and presentations. Karen is a Davenport graduate and worked for Meijer Corporate Headquarters before joining the CIC. She is married and has one son, who is a junior in high school this year. She and her family enjoy long bike rides, boating and attending baseball games.
Phone: 616.459.7267 ext. 1803
Paolo Puccini, CSP
Paolo is with us for his pastoral year as a seminarian with the Paulist Fathers. He has completed three years of studies in philosophy and theology at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He will be assisting with a variety of projects and offering evening classes at the CIC. Paolo speaks Spanish and has interests in Social Ethics and Hispanic Pastoral Ministry.
Phone: 616.459.7267 ext. 1804
Esperanza welcomes guests to our evening programs.
Phone: 616.459.7267 ext. 1803
The Catholic Information Center of Grand Rapids has physically existed in three different locations and has undergone numerous changes over its 69 year history. When the first two Paulists arrived here in July of 1947, there was no Information Center. Together, the two Paulist priests conducted pulpit dialogues for non-Catholics in St. Andrew’s Cathedral and St. Stephen’s church. They also alternated in giving radio talks and conducting retreats. The Paulist’s mission was spread through their zeal and enthusiasm to many lay people in the Grand Rapids area forming the nucleus for the first center community even before it had its own facility to call home.
With the help, support, and prayers of this growing community and of the diocese, a building at 329 Monroe Ave, NW was purchased and renovated. Although this first building was initially purchased by the diocese, it was the increasing dedication of the Center community which provided the donations of cash and material to renovate and furnish their new home.
Renovation of the building formerly known as Jack’s Cut Rate, a men’s and boy’s clothing store was started on September 28, 1947. On May 28, 1948, the first Catholic Information Center in Grand Rapids was dedicated by Bishop Haas and the cornerstone was blessed and laid. On June 4, 1948, the Center’s Chapel of Christ the King was also dedicated and blessed Bishop Haas.
During this time the Center community continued to grow and to assist in the Paulist mission. The Center’s home on Monroe fell victim to urban renewal in 1964. Through the tremendous efforts of the dedicated Paulist staff and the members of the Center community, the building at 246 Ionia Avenue, NW, was obtained and renovated. The new Center and Chapel of Christ the King were dedicated by Bishop Allen Babcock on March 21, 1965 and word of the Center continued to spread and its work expand.
Several renovations occurred during the years the Center was located on Ionia Street. The first was the new brick facade that was added in 1977. The brick facade replaced the badly deteriorating exterior stone and stucco. By the 1980?s both the Paulist staff and members of the Center community felt the need to renovate the Center once again. Renovations to the chapel were felt to be important for several reasons. Additional seating was needed to accommodate the large number of people gathering for worship. More efficient and effective heating was needed and the chapel space needed to be barrier free to allow access to handicapped member of the community. The newly renovated chapel was dedicated on Sunday, September 9, 1984 by Bishop Joseph M. Breitenbeck.
A new chapter began for the Paulist Father’s Catholic Information Center on July 1, 2008 when the Center left its Ionia Street location for Cathedral Square in order to expand its evangelization ministry in full partnership with the Diocese of Grand Rapids. We are now located on the second floor of the Cathedral Square Building, in a space especially designed for adult religious education. Our location in Cathedral Square has placed us in close collaboration with other diocesan ministries enabling us to be of greater service to the people of our diocese.
The first CIC on Monroe St.
The CIC on Ionia St.
The CIC on Ionia St with renovated façade.
Chapel of St. Paul at CIC on Ionia St.
Current site of the CIC at Cathedral Square.