About the St. Philip Institute

In his Constitution on Teaching the Catholic Faith in the Diocese of Tyler, Bishop Joseph Strickland announced that the Diocese would be "a teaching diocese."  He said:

"In order to answer the question, “How do we become a teaching diocese?” I am founding the Saint Philip Institute of Catechesis and Evangelization in the Diocese of Tyler. This Institute is charged with providing the parishes of the Diocese with the materials, expertise, and support to perform the mission of teaching as outlined in this Constitution. The Institute is founded for the service of the faithful of the Diocese."

To see more about the St. Philip Institute, click here to read the Bishop's Constitution.

Most Rev. Joseph E. Strickland

Bishop Strickland is the fourth bishop of the Diocese of Tyler in east Texas.  He was ordained a priest in 1985, and then appointed Bishop of Tyler in 2012.  Bishop Strickland has a great love for the Church, and founded the St. Philip Institute to ensure that the people of his diocese would have access to the teachings of the Church.  You can read more about Bishop Strickland here


Fr. Joshua Neu — Director of Faith Formation

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Fr. Joshua Neu, SSL, is a priest of the Diocese of Tyler. After completing a B.A. in Philosophy at the University of Dallas, he began studies for the priesthood. Fr. Neu obtained an S.T.B. at the Pontifical Gregorian University and then went on to complete a Licentiate in Sacred Scripture (S.S.L.) at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome. In addition to his love of Sacred Scripture, Fr. Neu has particular interests in the Sacred Liturgy, Historical Theology, and Linguistics. In addition to his work as the Director of Faith Formation in the St. Philip Institute, Fr. Neu is a parochial vicar at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Tyler, TX, and the Director of Vocations for the Diocese of Tyler.  

Deanna Johnston, M.A. — Director of Family Life

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Deanna Johnston is a native of Memphis, TN.  She graduated from the University of Memphis with her B.A. in Philosophy and Spanish and later earned her M.A. in Theology from Newman University in Wichita, KS.   After graduating from college, Deanna spent one year serving as a missioner in Mexico and continued working with the same organization in San Antonio, TX as Director of Development the following year.  Discerning a call to full-time ministry, Deanna moved to Dodge City, KS where she spent almost seven years focusing on marriage preparation, adult faith formation, and diocesan Natural Family Planning (NFP) ministry.    

Deanna is a certified Billings Ovulation Method NFP Instructor.  She has a special interest in the writings of St. John Paul II, especially the Theology of the Body.  She and her husband Michael have three children, Alexandria and Simon, and a baby due in August 2018.   They are looking forward to raising their family in the Diocese of Tyler.  Deanna serves as the Director of Family Life for the St. Philip Institute.  

Stacy Trasancos, Ph.D. — Director of Publications

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Dr. Stacy Trasancos was born and raised in East Texas, graduating from Texas A&M Commerce in 1994 with a B.S. in Broadfield Science-Biology. She taught Chemistry in Athens before heading to Penn State University. She earned a Ph.D. in Chemistry in 1999. She worked for DuPont as a research chemist until 2004 and left to raise children. In 2006, she became Catholic and then earned a M.A. in Dogmatic Theology from Holy Apostles College and Seminary in 2014. She is now an author, speaker, and educator.

She teaches science and theology courses for Seton Hall University and Holy Apostles. She has been interviewed numerous radio stations, including Sirius XM The Catholic Channel, Relevant Radio, EWTN Global Catholic Network, and regularly appears on Catholic Answers Live. She has written for National Catholic RegisterCatholic Answers Magazine, and Catholic World Report. She is the author of Science Was Born of Christianity: The Teaching of Fr. Stanley L. JakiParticles of Faith: A Catholic Guide to Navigating Science (Ave Maria Press), and 20 Answers: Bioethics (Catholic Answers Press). You can read more about Dr. Trasancos at her web site (stacytrasancos.com). She has seven children and three grandchildren. In 2017, she and her husband, Jose, moved their family from upstate NY to Hideaway, TX. In many ways, she is delighted to be home.

Luke Heintschel, M.A. —  Director of Communications

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Luke Heintschel grew up in San Diego, CA; where he earned his undergraduate degree in Communications (emphasis in Theology and Philosophy), and a Master of Arts in Biblical Theology, both from John Paul the Great Catholic University.  He wrote his Master's Thesis on priesthood and liturgy in the Old Testament and the Gospel of John.  Luke moved from San Diego to Tyler in order to work for Bishop Strickland and contribute to the teaching mission of the Diocese.  His work includes supporting the St. Philip Institute of Catechesis and Evangelization through both teaching and media development.  He lives with his wife, Gabriela, and son Joseph.  For fun, he enjoys mixology, comic book films, and most of all: spending time with his family.

Zaira Melchor — Administrative Assistant

Phone:  (903) 303-2487  Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Office Hours:  Monday-Friday 9:00am-2:00pm

Zaira Melchor was born and raised in Tyler, TX. She joined the St. Philip Institute staff in January of 2018 as the Administrative Assistant. She previously worked at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception as the Administrative Assistant for 3 years, and Holy Family in Lindale as the Parish Secretary for about two and a half years. Before Parish Secretary in Lindale, she worked at the Diocese of Tyler for about four and a half years. Zaira graduated from T. K. Gorman High School in 2006 and went to Tyler Junior College where she received her dental assistant certification. Though she is dental assistant certified she decided to put that career on hold to serve the Church and be more available to her family. Zaira is married to Juan and they have two beautiful daughters, Nise and Genesis. 

Mikki Sciba – Seasons of Infancy and Initiation Specialist

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Mikki Sciba was born in Santa Fe, Texas and raised Catholic her whole life.  After a deep conversion in high school, she discerned God’s calling to full time work within the Church.  In 2005, she graduated with a B.A . in Religious Studies, Philosophy and Youth Ministry from Benedictine College in Atchison, KS.     For the past 13 she has been blessed to be able to teach the beauty of the Catholic faith to young people and families.  Eleven of those were dedicated to teaching high school theology, but she has also served at a parish level as a director of youth ministry, parish school of religion coordinator and catechist for sacramental preparation.  She also enjoys speaking at youth and catechetical conferences.  Mikki serves as the Seasons of Infancy and Initiation Specialists at the St. Philip Institute.  Her work includes the development and implementation of methods to evangelizing and catechizing children from the ages of 0-12 years as well as integrating the catechesis given to the children into opportunities for continued formation of adults and families.   Mikki resides in Tyler with her husband, Matthew, and their three precious children, Mary, Lucas, and Samuel.