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Episode No. 20: The Church Music of Autumn

Fall is a beautiful season – the beginning of the academic and choral year, the changing of the leaves, the cooling of the weather. In the church, there are many important liturgical moments that are celebrated in October, and in today’s episode we listen to some of the gorgeous music that accompanies these liturgies including the Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi, the White Mass for the medical profession, and the Red Mass calling on the Holy Spirit upon our lawmakers.


Welcome to another episode of Orange County Catholic Radio, featuring host Rick Howick.

On this program, we are excited to welcome noted Catholic author, speaker and theologian, Christopher West. He founded the Theology of the Body Institute, based in Pennsylvania. He shares about a truly unique presentation that he brings to parishes all over the country. It’s called Made for More – Visions of the Promised Land, to be held at St. Angela Merici Parish in Brea. It’s an evening of visual beauty, live music, and reflection that will open your senses to the secret of God revealed in all of creation.

This is a fascinating conversation. Be sure to share this podcast with a friend!






Originally broadcast on 10/30/21


It’s time for another episode of Cathedral Square featuring host Fr. Christopher Smith.

This week, Fr. Christopher welcomes Katie Dawson to the studio. Katie is the Director of Parish Evangelization and Faith Formation for the Diocese of Orange. She’ll talk about the important role we all play in sharing our Catholic faith with others. They will also discuss an event called the Diocesan Ministries Celebration that recently took place on the campus of Christ Cathedral.

Please share this podcast with a friend!




Originally broadcast on 10/9/21



Welcome to another episode of Orange County Catholic Radio, featuring host Rick Howick.

On this week’s program, Rick welcomes Dr. Vincent Nguyen to the studio. Dr. Nguyen is the Director of Palliative Care at Hoag Hospital in both Newport Beach and Irvine. Our primary topic of conversation is the concept and purpose of the “White Mass” for those working in the medical profession. It takes place annually at Christ Cathedral.

Rick and Dr. Nguyen also take a moment to reflect on the passing of Hank Evers, a good friend and longtime employee of the Diocese of Orange.

This is a fascinating conversation. Be sure to share this podcast with a friend!






Originally broadcast on 10/16/21


Father, I am a Catholic but I have a lot of questions about what I believe. I’m thinking about leaving?

When I was in my early twenties, a friend invited me to an evening of fun and prayer at the Garden Grove Crystal Cathedral. Dr. Robert Schuller wanted to provide a place where young adults could play football, eat hamburgers and hotdogs, get to know each other and pray. While we gathered under the shadows of the impressive Crystal Cathedral and Tower of Hope there was never a push to convert or leave our religions or churches. I was a Catholic and, in those years, unaccustomed to mixing with Protestants. I think it was probably the same for Protestants. This exposure to other Christians made me think of my own commitment to Catholicism and I remember at one point, praying to God: “If you want me to become a Protestant, a Mormon or anything else I will do it. I just want to know the Truth!”

Questions are good because they lead us deeper into truth. God will always reward a sincere question about faith. One of the things that frustrate me is when someone presumably with questions, leaves the Catholic Church without talking to a priest, religious sister or someone who loves and knows their Catholic faith. Archbishop Sheen says, “There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate the Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.”

There is a lot of confusion out there but there are also good answers too. Find someone who loves and knows their Catholic faith and ask your questions.

One last thing — don’t forget to also bring your questions to Jesus. Pray about your doubts. The Lord who loves you will send you to the right person if you ask. Especially in the field of faith: “Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you.” (Matt. 7:7)

So ask the questions but give the Lord who loves you a chance to show you that you are in the right place, you are home and He has the right Church ready to lead you deeper into faith.

Fr. Al


Catholics in legal and medical occupations gathered at Christ Cathedral at two separate Masses this month to receive the Church’s blessing on their labors.

Bishop Kevin Vann presided over the Diocese of Orange’s 33rd annual Red Mass on Oct. 4, invoking God’s blessing upon attorneys, judges and other legal professionals. On Oct. 21, physicians, nurses and others in healthcare related occupations congregated at the cathedral for the White Mass, held on the Feast Day of St. Luke, patron saint of physicians. Monsignor Stephen Doktorczyk, diocesan Vicar General, presided over the Mass.

Deacon Modesto Cordero, diocesan director of the Office of Worship, reflected that individuals in law and medicine both help to carry out the Church’s seven Corporal Works of Mercy, which include visiting the sick and the imprisoned.

“We wanted to honor all those professionals, because they are important in the mission of the Church, (which) is always working toward social justice, taking care of the poor, the sick, those who are alienated and those in need of compassion and care,” he said. He noted that those in either field must see individuals as creations of God and “not just a business.”

The Diocese traditionally holds the Red Mass on the first Monday in October, when the U.S. Supreme Court begins its annual term. The Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, D.C., typically offers the Red Mass the Sunday before the term begins, with the congregation frequently including the president, Supreme Court justices and members of Congress.

The St. Thomas More Society of Orange County, a local Catholic association of legal professionals, hosted a dinner following this year’s Red Mass.

Attorney William Malecki, Red Mass chairperson for the organization, said, “One of our most cherished freedoms is our freedom of religion and the right to worship … Although we’re not all constitutional lawyers, we’re all involved in the legal process and helping to ensure that everyone is treated equally under the law.”

The St. Thomas More Society of Orange County honored its Attorney of the Year, Lisa Ramirez, at the event. Ramirez specializes in immigration law and has provided extensive pro bono representation for immigrants in the county. Malecki correlated Ramirez’s work with Jesus’ admonishment to welcome the stranger in Matthew 25:35.

“Jesus didn’t discriminate in exercising charity,” Malecki said. “Legal professionals must have in mind that charity, mercy and justice are the ultimate aim and aren’t incompatible with our legal system.”

Malecki added, “Faith provides the basis for the idea that we are all created equal by God, which is expressed in the Declaration of Independence but is also expressed in the gospel.”

Deacon Modesto Cordero, director of the Office of Worship in the Diocese of Orange, saw this year’s White Mass as particularly special, as the Mass was cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event also marked the first celebration of the White Mass at Christ Cathedral.

“We in the Church look after the health of people’s souls, while medical professionals take care of the body, but those are connected,” Deacon Cordero said. “We see their faith being put into the care of the people, in seeing the person as the creation of God, loved by God, and doing their best to maintain that life.”

Providence Orange County sponsored the event, with representatives from each of its acute-care ministries participating in the Mass. Mark Jablonski, Chief Mission Integration Officer for Providence St. Jude Medical Center, noted the last 18 months have been especially challenging for health-care workers, who have had to work extensive hours and put their own health at risk amid the pandemic.

The Red Mass originated in 13th-century Europe, deriving its name from the color of the vestments worn by the celebrant as well as the scarlet robes of the royal justices in England. Deacon Cordero noted that the Church also uses red to represent the Holy Spirit, on whom legal professionals must rely for wisdom and guidance. Arriving to the United States in 1877, the Red Mass has been celebrated in the Diocese since 1988.

Celebrations of the White Mass date back to the founding of the Catholic Medical Association in the United States in the early 1930s, white being the color traditionally worn by doctors, nurses and others in the medical field. Alternatively, some dioceses invoke a blessing upon health-care workers at a “Rose Mass” on the fourth Sunday of Lent or Laetare Sunday, when priestly vestments are rose-colored.

The Blue Mass, recognizing those in law-enforcement, firefighting and other public-safety occupations, also emerged in United States the 1930s and is celebrated annually in the Diocese. The Society of Catholic Scientists introduced the first Gold Mass in 2016 to pray for scientists, science educators and students. Gold is the color of the hoods worn by those graduating with a doctorate in the sciences.



The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange celebrated the first Rosary and Mass at the Our Lady of La Vang Shrine on Saturday, Oct. 2.

The inaugural Rosary and Mass were the first of what will be a monthly occurrence at Christ Cathedral’s new shrine, which honors the Virgin Mary, serves as a testament to the Vietnamese American people and recognizes Orange County’s Vietnamese diaspora of more than 100,000 people.

The Mass and Rosary were said in Vietnamese. An estimated 1,000 people attended.

The main celebrant was Bishop Thanh Thai Nguyen, who is currently the only Vietnamese bishop in the United States. The homilist was Fr. Christopher Pham. The religious event included a 120-person choir, as well as prayers for donors and their families. It was livestreamed for Catholics around the world on Christ Cathedral’s Facebook page and the Diocese of Orange’s YouTube account.

The Our Lady of La Vang Shrine was solemnly blessed on July 17, 2021, before a crowd of more than 8,000 supporters and others viewing the livestreamed event from around the world. The centerpiece of the $12.6-million shrine is an Italian white marble statue of the Virgin Mary holding the Baby Jesus. The Blessed Mother is depicted as she is believed to have appeared in 1798 in a remote rainforest in Vietnam before a group of persecuted Catholics.

That Marian apparition has since been named Our Lady of La Vang, and depictions of the Blessed Mother are considered a source of hope, faith and promise to Vietnamese Catholics around the world.

Although the shrine was blessed this past summer, a second phase of construction for it is pending. That will include rosary gardens, a basalt medallion and waterfall feature.



Bishop Kevin Vann and the St. Thomas More Society of Orange County celebrated the 33rd annual Red Mass at Christ Cathedral on Monday, Oct. 4.



The special Mass — an annual event attended by judges, attorneys, law faculty and public officials — is celebrated at the opening of the judicial year in Orange County and throughout the world. Judges attending the Red Mass in Orange County traditionally don red robes in a renewal of an ancient tradition practiced for hundreds of years after the institution of the Red Mass in the 13th century.

The custom received its distinguished name from the brilliant scarlet vestments worn by the Mass celebrant and Lord High Justices in England.



Parishes throughout our Diocese celebrated their beloved animals with the Blessing of the Animals, from Saturday, Oct. 2 through Monday, Oct. 4. The tradition dates to the 13th Century when St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and the environment, preached to the birds and praised all creatures calling them his brothers and sisters under God.


Welcome to another episode of Orange County Catholic Radio, featuring host Rick Howick.

On this week’s show, Rick welcomes two very special guests to the program: Tim Busch and Robert Artigo. Tim Busch is an executive, attorney and Catholic philanthropist. He was one of the earliest advocates for the acquisi­tion of the cathedral by the diocese and was integrally involved in negotiating and fundraising for its purchase. Busch commissioned Artigo to write the book, desiring to preserve the building of the cathedral and its acquisition as part of diocesan history.

Robert Artigo is the author of “Neither Crystal Nor Gold.” It explores many facets of the his­tory of how the former Crystal Cathedral came to be built; and, its unlikely transfor­mation into the cathedral for the Diocese of Orange.

This is a fascinating conversation. Be sure to share this podcast with a friend!






Originally broadcast on 9/18/21




The Vietnamese Catholic Center celebrated its 25th anniversary with a special Mass on Sunday, Sept. 12. The center in Santa Ana had its chapel dedicated on Sept. 14, 1996. The chapel holds 200 people for daily Mass, retreats and prayer services. Other facilities at the center include a large hall, kitchen, priests’ living quarters, library and recording studio.

The center has a history dating back to at least 1983, when Bishop William Johnson, the first Bishop of Orange, oversaw the acquisition of property in Santa Ana that served as the first temporary center. Other buildings were constructed in the years following, including the chapel that was finished in May 1996.

The Vietnamese Catholic Center has helped serve the local Vietnamese population of Orange County ever since the fall of Saigon. The Vietnamese Catholic Center is a symbol of the Vietnamese Catholic faith and their deep devotion to traditional and cultural values. It serves more than 83,000 Vietnamese Catholics and non-Catholics, as well as various Vietnamese groups and associations throughout the U.S. and abroad.



On Wednesday, Sept. 15, the House of Prayer rededicated its recently renovated Blessed Sacrament Chapel with individual and group Adoration, as well as a procession, singing, a benediction and fraternal luncheon. The House of Prayer, located on Santiago Canyon Road in the city of Orange, is a priest retreat center with eight Santa Fe-style casitas.



On Monday, Sept. 20, a show detailing the history of Christ Cathedral, formerly known as the Crystal Cathedral, premiered on the Fox Business Network. The Christ Cathedral episode is the first show of “American Built with Stuart Varney,” which is now in its second season.

Fr. Christopher Smith, rector of Christ Cathedral, was interviewed for the show in February, as were members of the Schuller family, who originally founded the campus and built the Crystal Cathedral.



St. Thomas More Catholic Church in Irvine celebrated a 9/11 Memorial Mass and special prayer service on Saturday, Sept. 11. Fr. Eugene Lee, St. Thomas More’s pastor, and Fr. Kiet Ta, its parochial vicar, led the ceremony along with members from the Knights of Columbus. Special guests included Orange County Fire Authority personnel from Station 26 in Irvine, led by Capt. Robert Smith, as well as Irvine police Lt. Frough Jahid. A memorial table included a book of remembrance that contained the names of all the 9/11 victims. The table was adorned with nine candles that were lit as each group was named. During each invocation, the bell tolled as the candle was lit.

On Saturday, Sept. 11, St. Anne’s Seal Beach celebrated Mass at 9 a.m. to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of 9/11. That evening, the parish had a spaghetti dinner to honor both clergy and parishioners who are military veterans. The dinner included inviting local first responders from the fire department and police department in Seal Beach.


Christ Cathedral’s bells in the Crean Tower tolled on Saturday, Sept. 11, as the Diocese of Orange honored and remembered all who lost their lives or were injured in the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and United Flight 93 in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.

The bells rang four times (in Pacific Standard Time, not East Coast time) to mark the events of that historic day: at 8:46 a.m. (World Trade Center North Tower), 9:03 a.m. (World Trade Center South Tower), 9:37 a.m. (Pentagon), and 10:03 a.m. (Som­erset County).

A patriotic tribute followed.

Fr. Christopher Smith, rector of Christ Cathedral, asked that all who heard the bells take a moment of silence and offer a prayer of remembrance.