Tim Horst

Director of Faith Formation

+1-616-459-4662 ext.1209 Email Me

Tim Horst was newly hired as the Director of Faith Formation beginning January 2023.

Tim grew up in Trenton, Michigan, and attended Central Michigan University from 2005 to 2010, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Health Science. He experienced a conversion during his college years marked with mission trips, immersion into Saint John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, and spending more time with Jesus in Scripture, at daily Mass, and in Eucharistic Adoration. After graduation, he attended Sacred Heart Major Seminary (SHMS) and discerned the priesthood as a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Detroit. After four years of discernment, he realized that God was not calling him to the priesthood after all. He continued to take classes at SHMS and completed a master’s degree in Theology over the next few years. His first year out of seminary, he ministered as both an RCIA coordinator and a high school campus minister.

For the past eight years, Tim has been teaching high school Theology–four at Divine Child in Dearborn, four at West Catholic. In February 2017, he married, Celia, and has two beautiful daughters.


Leah Green

Youth Minister

+1-616-459-4662 ext.1212 Email Me

We are happy to introduce our new Youth Minister, Leah Green, to the Saint Thomas the Apostle Parish community. She is a student at Aquinas College studying Theology and Psychology and comes to us with high accolades! Youth ministry has been one of her passions since she was impacted so profoundly by her own youth group in high school. She loves working with young people and encouraging others to go deeper in their faith.

Carla Grant

Finance Manager

+1-616-459-4662 ext.1210 Email Me

Carla Grant left retirement to accept God’s call to join the Saint Thomas Parish staff as part-time Finance Manager in October 2021. She has been an active parishioner since 2000, serving in the Music Ministry as a choir member and cantor and as a lector and coordinator of the Parish Meals Ministry.

Carla received her Bachelor’s in Business Administration from Michigan Technological University. She worked as a licensed CPA for over 30 years until her 2019 retirement from Hungerford Nichols CPAs + Advisors, where she spent her entire professional career starting as an intern and ending as a Shareholder. Her two adult children are graduates of Saint Thomas the Apostle School and Catholic Central High School, and she is blessed with two grandchildren who she loves to spend time with and spoil. She is passionate about literacy and volunteers for several literacy-focused nonprofit organizations, and also enjoys music, hiking and traveling.

Lesa Wackerle

Office Assistant/Bulletin Editor

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Lesa Wackerle has worked at Saint Thomas since June of 2019. Lesa enjoys creating many different things, by hand or on the computer. Lesa has friendships with a variety of saints – as a former homeschool Mom, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton is her favorite. Saint George is also a favorite because both Lesa’s husband and son are very involved in the Boy Scouts of America. When Lesa isn’t working, she enjoys getting coffee with her daughter, interacting with members of American Heritage Girls, reading, camping and being outside.

Deacon Dean Vernon


+1-616-459-4662 ext.1200

Deacon Dean Vernon has been married to Lori Lundell Vernon since June 28, 1986. They have seven children and many grandchildren. His favorite saint is Saint Benedict from which he has adopted Benedictine spirituality. He was ordained to the diaconate on June 21, 2017. He consecrated his life to Jesus through Mary in January of 2018 and is considered to be a Marian Deacon.

Deacon Dean is a passionate public speaker who has a heart for evangelism. He has many favorite Bible verses, but Romans 16:19, “Be excellent at what is good, and innocent of evil” is one of his top favorites. He has been employed as a School Psychologist for Grand Rapids Public Schools since August 1988.

Deacon Dennis Williams

Retired Deacon


A graduate of Saint Thomas, Catholic Central, and Aquinas College, Dennis (“Denny”) has been a deacon and parishioner at Saint Thomas for over 50 years. He has been married to Suzanne Haas Williams since 1984, has four children and four grandchildren. Denny retired from the Williams Group, Inc., in 2002 after founding it in 1978. There he served as creative director, writer, and account executive. His community service includes the Peace Corps (Guatemala, 1965-1967), the Grand Rapids Urban League (1980-1984), Heart of West Michigan United Way (1988-1992), and the Dominican Center at Marywood (1998-2004). He has served as the executive director for Epilogos Charities and held various volunteer positions for the Diocese of Grand Rapids. Denny has served on the board of directors for the Inner City Christian Federation and on the board of trustees of Aquinas College.

Lori Vernon


+1-616-459-4662 ext.1208 Email Me

Lori Vernon answered God’s call to serve in the ministry of Liturgist for Saint Thomas parish in 2014. She has been Catholic since just before her marriage to Dean Vernon, our Deacon, in 1986, and is incredibly grateful for the blessing of the sacraments and richness of Catholic spirituality. While in college Lori was the large group coordinator and then president for an ecumenical campus ministry, and was always seeking speakers, volunteers and new members. She has been involved in various ministries in her past parish, taught high school Mathematics, and then Lori and Dean answered God’s call to homeschool their children. Later Dean was called to become a Deacon, and they trained together and learned a great deal more about faith and service. In 2004, Dean was assigned to Saint Thomas for his Deacon Internship and the Vernon family moved join the parish. They have felt blessed to stay and call this their home parish.


As the Saint Thomas Liturgist, Lori has the honor of prayerfully helping to connect parishioners with the ministries involved Liturgy and Communion. She is incredibly grateful for this privilege, and for the joy of working with the generous volunteers currently sharing their gifts with Saint Thomas!

Pam Strobel

Parish Life Coordinator

+1-616-459-4662 ext.1203 Email Me

Pam Strobel joined the Saint Thomas staff as the Parish Life Coordinator in August 2020 after being a member of the Parish since 1988. She and her husband, Steve, have raised their seven children at Saint Thomas and have been actively involved in various ministries through the years: cantor, lector, choir member, Liturgy Commission, Homebound Ministry, and Challenge Girls’ Club. Pam and Steve have faithfully directed Vacation Bible School since 2001, engaging thousands of students and volunteers over the years in this wonderful ministry to the parish.

After receiving an undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame and a Master’s Degree from Michigan State University, Pam was employed at Aquinas College as the Director of Residence Life, before being called to homeschool her children.

Pam feels extremely blessed to serve the Saint Thomas community and to join the parish staff, utilizing her skills and past experiences in promoting and strengthening parish life.

Deacon Jim Thorndill

Emeritus Retired Deacon


Jim is currently designated as an Emeritus Retired Deacon. He graduated from Grand Rapids Community College, with an Associate’s degree in business, received a Bachelor degree of Science from Aquinas College in 1977, and a Bachelor’s degree in Theology in 2007. He and his wife, Diane, entered the diaconate program in 1999 and was ordained by Bishop Walter Hurley on February 11, 2006. During his ministry at Saint Thomas the Apostle Parish, he served as the spiritual assistant for the Third Order Franciscans, held Life in the Spirit seminars, hosted a local television show in the West Michigan area called Catholic Forum, engaged as a guest host and the Development Director of Holy Family Radio, and served as an on-call chaplain at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s Hospital.

Jim and Diane’s greatest joy is to be with their children and grandchildren, spending holidays, birthdays and special events. They live in Heritage Hills, in a home which they have totally refurbished. They both love the hands-on work and the dedication of finishing a project and seeing the fruits of their labor.

In 2014, Jim completed studies at Manresa, a Jesuit retreat house and education Center in Bloomfield Hills, and was commissioned as a spiritual director, offering his services to the Diocese of Grand Rapids.

Pauline Peterson

Parish Bookkeeper

+1-616-459-4662 ext.1204 Email Me

Pauline began working at Saint Thomas in the Fall of 2016, after relocating to Grand Rapids from Metro Detroit. She held a similar position in her former parish and feels truly blessed to be a part of the Saint Thomas community.

Pauline is married to Chris and they have two daughters, one son, and a handful of beautiful grandchildren.