Warning: call_user_func() expects parameter 1 to be a valid callback, no array or string given in /home/unlvnewman/unlvnewman.com/wp-content/plugins/akismet/widget.php on line 126
Staff | St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Newman Community serving UNLV


Fr. Albert Felice-Pace – Director – fr.albert@unlvnewman.com
Rhoel Ternate – Development Director – ternate@unlvnewman.com
Robert Oliver- Development Assistant – oliver@unlvnewman.com
Melissa Blanco- Office Receptionist- blanco@unlvnewman.com
Brittany Uy- Office Receptionist- uy@unlvnewman.com
Lawrence Avancena – Evangelization Peer Minister – avancena@unlvnewman.com
Alex Smith – Music Coordinator Peer Minister – asmith@unlvnewman.com
Sharon Nakama – Music Coordinator Peer Minister – nakama@unlvnewman.com
Nicole Danelson – Social Justice Peer Minister – danelson@unlvnewman.com
Sam Smith- Social Events Peer Minister – ssmith@unlvnewman.com
Brendan Karagiozis – Sacristan – karagiozis@unlvnewman.com
Nancy Blea – Maintenance Manager – blea@unlvnewman.com


Fr. Albert Felice-Pace

My name is Fr. Albert Felice-Pace, O.P., a Dominican priest of the Western Province.  I was born, raised, educated and ordained a priest on the Island of Malta.  I came to  this country in 1961, one year after I was ordained.  For 44 years I have been a campus minister.  I started in 1962 as a part time campus minister at Occidental College, Los Angeles.  After that I became a full time campus minister at UC Riverside, Arizona State University, University of Oregon, University of Arizona, and now at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.  It has been a great experience to minister to young people. These young people have been a blessing to me. Now, through Facebook, many alumni have found me.  It has been exciting to hear from them after 40 or 30 or 10 years.  I enjoy reading, classical music, the opera and sports.  I say Mass for the UNLV football team.  I attend football games, volleyball, men and women basketball, baseball, softball and hope to watch tennis.  I am a great fan of the 49ers.  I love to play racquetball.  So, if anyone is interested to play a game, call me.  I am glad to be in Las Vegas and more excited to be on campus.  As a campus  minister I have worked on local, regional and national committees.  In 1995 I was award the Charles Forsythe award for outstanding leadership in campus ministry.  In 2012, I published a book titled “An Abridged History of Catholic Campus Ministry.” Go Rebels!


Rhoel Ternate
My name is Rhoel Ternate and I am the Development Director here at the Newman Center.  My job is to raise the funds needed to construct a church for the students of UNLV.  I am also an alum of UNLV, having received my Bachelors in Economics and my Masters in Ethics and Policy Studies (yes, Ethics and Politics…that’s ONE degree, not two, mutually exclusive degrees).  I have been coming to this Newman Center since 2002 when I was still an undergraduate and I’ve made this place my second home as a volunteer and a charter member of our Knights of Columbus Council.  In my free time I like to read and continue doing research related to nuclear waste disposal, which is what my Master’s thesis was based on.  I also do ballroom dancing as a hobby and I am especially fond of Tango, Rumba, and Viennese Waltz.  My door is always open to anyone who wants to talk or has an idea of how we can get that church built and the cross standing high for all to see.


Robert Oliver

My name is Robert Oliver and I am the Development Assistant here at the Newman Center. My job is to help our Development Director, Rhoel Ternate, in raising the funds needed to construct a new church. At night, I become the Batman. 





Melissa Blanco

Hello! My name is Melissa Blanco. I’m one of the Office Assistants here at the Newman Center. I was born in Queens, New York, and I moved to Las Vegas in 2004. Outside of my work at Newman, I also serve in a Catholic youth ministry called Youth for Family and Life. My favorite color is purple.  I like to dance. I like to bowl. My goal is to graduate from the Nursing Program. If you have any questions about me or the Newman Center, come by the front desk during office hours.




Brittany Uy

Hi! I am the new office assistant here at Newman. I love the Los Angeles Lakers, eating and sleeping. My favorite restaurant is Portos. My favorite color is purple and gold. I was once allergic to cheese and fish and now I’m not.  I am currently studying Health Care Administration at UNLV. My goals are to one day graduate UNLV and run/own a Senior Living Facility.






Lawrence Avancena

Hey! I’m Lawrence I am the Evangelization Peer Minister. My job is to reach out to the students here at UNLV spreading the good news. I am also tasked with doing Bible Studies, Praise and Worship, and any events deemed necessary for the spiritual nourishment of the students. I am currently a senior working towards a degree in Informatics and a minor in Computer Science. I like long walks on the beach, hiking, video games, and sometimes rock climbing. Oh and I love food and eating.





Nicole Danelson
My name’s Nicole, and I’m the Social Justice Minister here at the Newman Center. I’ve got six years of social work under my belt and really excited to use that experience to expand Newman’s Social Justice program. I’m from the far north–Montana, to be exact. I moved to Vegas to seek my Master’s degree in History and have been complaining about the heat ever since. I love God, punk music, camping, saying the rosary, video games, and playing poker.



Alexander Smith

My name is Alex Smith I’m the Worship Music Coordinator Peer minister here at the Newman center and I have been involved in the Newman community for a little over three years now. I am currently studying chemistry here at UNLV where I’m about a junior in my progress to graduation. I have developed a passion for music and have been playing guitar since I was eleven. I love RPG games, video games, hiking, and eating.

Sharon Nakama

Howzit! My name is Sharon Nakama and I am the Liturgical Music Coordinator for Mass! This means that I organize a group of musicians to perform at Mass each Sunday along with the songs being played.  I was born and raised in Maui, Hawaii and get the worst chapped lips everytime I come back from break to the desert.  I love to eat and am always complaining about my hunger. I once beat an obese kid in a food eating contest while I was in High School.  I am currently a double major in Music Education (emphasis on Secondary education) and Music Performance on Oboe.  No, those two majors are not the same.  My hobbies and main interests range from making oboe reeds, to collecting Iwako® erasers, to feeding the homeless with Catholic Worker each Friday.  I love being in this ministry because it will definitely help me get a closer relationship with God and reach out to others who also yearn for that relationship.

Samantha Smith

Hello, my name is Samantha.  I am the Social Events Peer Minister at
UNLV Newman and I am very excited to be able to serve the Lord and the
community! I’m a Las Vegas native studying Italian, French, and
Japanese.  I love Christ, art, anime, foreign cultures, food (I love
trying new cooking styles but my favourites are hearty meals that
stick to your bones and good old southern cooking) and cosplay!  Stop
by one of our social events for some fun and some great food.




Brendan Karagiozis
I’m the sacristan here at the Newman center. I was born in Reno and moved to Las Vegas when I was 11. Graduated from Coronado high school in Henderson and now I am a Biology major here at UNLV. Eventually my goal is to become a Cardiologist. I enjoy movies, games, sports and spending time with friends.