Since we’ve had some significant staff turnover this summer, we thought it would be a good opportunity to (re)introduce our Newman Center Ministry Team for the 2021-2022 school year!

Fr. Connor Danstrom, Director/Chaplain

Fr. Connor has been a priest for seven years now and says that it has been “an amazing adventure so far.” He loves playing sports and writing music in my spare time, and aside from saying Mass and hearing confessions, you’ll also often find him around Newman either playing ping pong, making coffee, gardening, or skateboarding. A fun fact about Fr. Connor is that he’s not allergic to poison ivy or poison oak. “I once had to cut down a bunch of overgrown poison oak with a chainsaw and everyone else was itching for weeks and I felt nothing. It’s basically a super power.” 

Favorite Saint: St. Patrick

Favorite Bible Verse: Galatians 2:20


Fr. Tim Anastos, Associate Chaplain

Fr. Tim grew up in Mundelein, IL and graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in Linguistics. He turned down the FBI to go to seminary and did his Theology studies at the North American College in Rome. He served his first three years of priesthood at Mary Seat of Wisdom in Park Ridge, concentrating on High School Youth Ministry. In his words, being a priest is “awesomesauce.” A fun fact about Fr. Tim is that he has received the Eucharist in 27 countries!

Favorite Saint: St. Philomena

Favorite Bible Verse: John 13:1


Becca Siar, Director of Campus Ministry

Becca has worked at Newman for the last four years and is also the President for the Chicago Chapter of Young Catholic Professionals. She has a Bachelor’s in Biochemistry from Roanoke College, and a Master’s in Theology from the University of Notre Dame’s Echo Program. Becca loves Jesus, Broadway musicals, and chips and guac (in that order), and you can follow her blog at A fun fact about Becca is that she was voted Homecoming Queen in high school! 

Favorite Saint: St. Teresa of Calcutta

Favorite Bible Verse: Psalm 91:1


Monica Mackie, Development Coordinator

Monica served as a FOCUS Missionary, with two of those being here at UIC! She loves any and all bodies of water, the Nebraskan landscape, and most team sports, especially college football (Go Huskers!). She’s especially excited to launch our coffee shop, Cor Coffee, because you can often find her relaxing with a nice cup of coffee and a good book (preferably one about the 19th Century British Navy). A fun fact about Monica is that she has had 3 hip surgeries and did the Chicago Triathlon this summer!

Favorite Saint: St. Joan of Arc

Favorite Bible Verse: Matthew 28:20


Daniel Sahyouni, FOCUS Missionary and UIC Team Director

Daniel graduated from Indiana University (Go Hoosiers!), where he studied music education and is excited to be going into his third year with FOCUS at UIC. He loves to play board games, write music, read, eat breakfast food at any time of the day, and, as of recently, skateboard. A fun fact about Daniel is that he makes all of his roommates learn his EAP (emergency action plan) for killing centipedes.

Favorite Saint: St. Francis Xavier

Favorite Bible Verse: Matthew 6:33



Jamie Taberna, FOCUS Missionary

Jamie was born and raised in Tyler, TX and is a first generation Filipino American. She graduated from the University of Texas at Tyler with a degree in Psychology and a minor in music. These past three years, she has been a FOCUS missionary at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, and she is so excited to be moving to the “Windy City” for her fourth year with FOCUS. A fun fact about Jamie is that she’s allergic to everything. “Ask me about it sometime.”

Favorite Saint: St. Francis of Assisi

Favorite Bible Verse: Isaiah 43:4


Grace Garcia, FOCUS Missionary

Grace is from Fort Gratiot, Michigan – a little town in the thumb of Michigan! She is the oldest of four siblings and attended the University of Toledo in Ohio, where she earned a B.S. in Biology. Before applying to be a FOCUS missionary, she worked in a Catholic parish as an Administrative Assistant! She loves finding new coffee shops/restaurants, taking a nap in her hammock, or having dance parties in the kitchen. A fun fact about Grace is that she has been to Hawaii and Alaska in the same calendar year and is half Filipino AND half Polish!

Favorite Saint: St. Joan of Arc

Favorite Bible Verse: Romans 5:20


Darien Rivas, FOCUS Missionary

Darien comes from McAllen, TX and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin where he studied advertising. He likes graphic design, photography, kayaking, and music, and his favorite drink is Cherry Coke. A fun fact about Darien is that he used to rock a sick bowl cut when he was little!

Favorite Saint: Our Lady of Schoenstatt

Favorite Bible Verse: Psalm 51:10



Olivia (Via) Ahlberg, FOCUS Missionary

Olivia (Via) is from Owatonna, Minnesota! She graduated from the University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business with a degree in Marketing and loves all things creative, such as bullet journaling, painting, singing, hammocking, thrifting, and curating Spotify playlists. She’s a first year missionary and can’t wait to serve at UIC! A fun fact about Via is that she hates silverware with designs in the handles, and she got rock wall/zip line certified last summer!

Favorite Saint: Saint Gianna Beretta Molla

Favorite Bible Verse: 1 Corinthians 15:55