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EPISODE#26
CATHEDRAL SQUARE: GUEST IS GREG WALGENBACH, DIRECTOR OF LIFE JUSTICE AND PEACE FOR THE DIOCESE OF ORANGE

On today’s program, Fr. Christopher welcomes Greg Walgenbach to our studios on the campus of Christ Cathedral. Greg is the Director of the Office of Life, Justice and Peace for the Diocese of Orange.

We’re going to talk about many of the unique ministries that Greg is involved in; and, how we as Catholics can be more active in providing a ‘voice for the voiceless’ in our communities.

Some important topics of discussion here, so be sure to tune in!

 

 

 

 

Originally broadcast on 3/7/20

EPISODE#158
OC CATHOLIC RADIO: A DISCUSSION ON THE MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR THE HOMELESS WITH GUEST GREG WALGENBACH

On this week’s edition of the program, Rick welcomes Greg Walgenbach back to the studio. Greg is the director of the office of Life, Justice and Peace for the Diocese of Orange.

We’re going to talk about a very unique memorial service that’s going to take place on the Christ Cathedral campus on Friday, December 21st. The event is called the Homeless Person’s Inter-Religious Memorial Service – honoring the homeless who have passed away over the past year with dignity and respect.

Some important topics of discussion here, so be sure to tune in!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Originally broadcast on 12/15/18

EPISODE#125
OC CATHOLIC RADIO: GUESTS ARE GINA SERIEL AND GREG WALGENBACH

Host Rick Howick interviews guests on a variety of topics. On this week’s program, Rick welcomes two people to the studio who have much to share with us: Gina Seriel and Greg Walgenbach.

We’re going to talk about a very unique memorial service that’s going to take place on the Christ Cathedral campus on Thursday, December 21st. The event is called the Homeless Person’s Inter-Religious Memorial Service – honoring the homeless who have passed away over the past year with dignity and respect.

 

 

 

Originally broadcast on 12/14/17

DIOCESE OF ORANGE HOSTS CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM FORUM

More than 75 people gathered last night in the Freed Theater on the Christ Cathedral campus to hear from experts in the criminal justice system, as well as from those impacted by violent crimes, all of whom are committed to reforming our criminal justice system and ending the death penalty.

The evening event, titled “A more excellent way: Criminal Justice Reform in the Year of Mercy,” was inspired by a chapter from St. Paul to the Corinthians (12:26 “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it”), said Greg Walgenbach, director of the Office of Life, Justice and Peace, who opened the meeting.

He reminded the audience: “We are all sinners. We are all part of the human family and we live together in communities.” He noted that anthropologically we’re wired to find peace in our communities by scapegoating and that we need to rethink our approach to the criminal justice system.

“As a community we’re going to be entering into unfamiliar territory as we try to approach this way of mercy,” Walgenbach said. “We may not be comfortable…it may be a challenge for us.”

“What if we have no peace because we’ve forgotten that we belong to one another?” Walgenbach asked the audience. “What does it look like to pursue criminal justice reform; to pursue restoration and relationships in our community with that in mind?” With that, he set the tone for the evening that included presentations by victims of crimes, those who have been incarcerated for crimes and those who work to help prevent crime before it happens.

Steven Kim and Mary Vu from Project Kinship shared their mission with the audience: to help the formerly incarcerated to re-enter the community. The organization provides a range of programs including jail services, job training services and now school-based programs integrated into the school system and designed to prevent crime.

Kim asked the audience: “How do we undemonize what has been demonized?” Meaning, how do we show people who are released from prison that their lives matter?

One of the most compelling presentations of the evening was by Larry Tripp, a beneficiary of Project Kinship’s outreach, who was incarcerated for 18 years under the “three strikes law,” after being arrested for a stolen cell phone.

Dressed in a gray suit and looking polished at the podium, Tripp said candidly that he doesn’t recognize himself today.

“I am a man who is unfamiliar with whom I’ve become over the last few years,” Tripp said slowly and deliberately. He added that he has now dedicated his life to helping others. “My purpose is not about me,” he said. “My purpose is to give back, now.”

Bethany Webb, the sister of a victim of the 2011 mass shooting at the Salon Meritage in Seal Beach, CA, shared that despite losing her sister and other friends that day, she is not in favor of the death penalty for the confessed shooter.

“In the name of my sister and of my mom (who was the sole survivor of the shooting of 8 people that day), we’re saying together (that) we don’t want his death in our name.”

Webb shared that the Seal Beach shooter was angry and felt the only way to assuage his anger was to kill. Now, she said, proponents of the death penalty tell her that his execution will relieve her of her anger over his violent acts.

“Proposition 66 says that if you hold on to that anger and resentment, we’ll make you feel better when you witness the murder of someone else… I reject that,” Webb said adamantly.

Walgenbach noted that the California Catholic Conference is urging that voters support Proposition 62 by voting “yes” and reject Proposition 66 with a “no” vote.

The forum then moved to a discussion about the mass incarceration of people of color, with statistics presented by Miguel Hernandez, director, OCCCO and the Diocesan Pastoral Council.

“We incarcerate at a higher rate than any other country,” Hernandez said, pointing to a slide that reported that the U.S. jails 698 of every 100,000 people. Sixty percent of those incarcerated, he added, are people of color.

Hernandez spoke of the “school-to-prison pipeline,” in which certain students appear statistically destined for prison.

“In so many ways our actions don’t reflect our values,” he said. He pointed to a shift in resources in the Santa Ana School District that resulted in a dramatic drop in suspensions. Funds were moved to “restorative justice” programs from programs that were focused on punitive policies.

“Investing in restorative programs can reduce the school-to-prison pipeline,” he said, noting that in three years suspensions were reduced by 58 percent.

Jennifer Koh, director, Western State Immigration Clinic and Hairo Cortes, and an organizer with Orange County Immigration Youth United, asked the audience how many of them know someone who is here without documentation. Half of the audience raised their hands.

“Being undocumented is actually not a crime,” Koh said. “Not having papers to be here is not a criminal offense.” Our implementation of the law, she said, has made criminals out of the undocumented population. “Referring to people as illegals or aliens,” she said, “has a criminalizing affect, or the act of detaining them while waiting for possible deportation (putting them behind bars) makes them feel like a criminal.”

“There are rights that exist (in our criminal justice system) such as double jeopardy and the right to a defense attorney,” Koh said, “but none of those rights exist in, or apply to, immigration law.”

Koh concluded that in all parts of the legal and criminal justice system, three words should guide all: Dignity. Mercy. Grace.

 

 

 

HELPING HANDS FOR VULNERABLE WOMEN IN NEED

Pregnant with her second child, in jail on a drug charge, the high-school dropout from a Catholic family was desperate. Her baby was due in a month.

Living from motel to motel with her young son prior to being jailed, the woman in her early 20s thought she had nowhere to turn.

Her fortunes began to change, however, when she was accepted as one of the first residents, in January 2013, of the Emergency Maternity Shelter Program at Casa Teresa. For the past 38 years Casa Teresa has been providing temporary shelter and assistance to marginalized women in need of prenatal care and parenting help at its residential facilities in Orange.

Along with one of its programs, Hannah’s House—which shelters pregnant women who choose adoption for their newborns—Casa Teresa has helped turn around the lives of more than 5,600 women and babies since opening at its original location in Santa Ana in 1976.

One of Casa Teresa’s longstanding community partners has been the Diocese of Orange. The temporary shelter for pregnant women ages 18 and older is just one agency the diocese works with to help women who are facing unplanned pregnancies prepare to raise their babies and learn skills they need to become self-sufficient once they give birth.

Community-based campaigns such as 40 Days for Life, in which Catholics and others hold vigils, pray and fast outside clinics to display their opposition to abortion, paints an incomplete picture of how the diocese serves reluctant mothers-to-be and those facing dire challenges raising their child, Church officials say.

“There’s a great deal of politics around issues of contraception and abortion, which can often distort the message and ministry of the Catholic Church to women, men and families,” says Greg Walgenbach, Director of the Office of Life, Justice and Peace, a ministry of the Diocese of Orange that helps to promote Catholic social teaching, organize for faithful engagement and advocacy, and promote parish-based prayer, education, care, advocacy and action with and for the poor and the marginalized.

“We devote a great deal of time, skills and financial resources to come to the aid of women facing unexpected pregnancies with the compassionate and merciful love of Christ, because these are fellow human beings in vulnerable situations and there are at least two lives at stake,” Walgenbach says.

“Christians have been doing this work since the earliest days of the Church,” he adds. “Easter is a great time to remember that God has made possible a politics of forgiveness and redemption—that it is possible to live a good life, to thrive in communities that do not require sacrificing the lives of others, especially the needy, the poor and the most vulnerable among us.”

Lyrissa Roman, Development Manager at Casa Teresa, says the former drug-using young woman who came to the nonprofit group’s Emergency Maternity Shelter Program is expected to graduate in October.

She was raised in an active churchgoing family, but misfortune caught up with her in her teens. Insecure about herself, she was kicked out of high school and turned to drugs and alcohol. She was in and out of jail when she had her first child.

Now, says Roman, the young woman’s life has been transformed. She has been sober since January 2013 and prays regularly. She is working on an associate degree at Fullerton College and doing part-time clerical work at a law firm. And her transformation has caused a ripple effect.

“The father of her two children has seen what Casa Teresa has done for her and how much it has helped her become a better person,” Roman says. “Now he’s taken the initiative to better himself by working full time.”

The Life, Justice and Peace ministry is working with another organization, Options United, that is taking advantage of the digital age to reach out to pregnant women in need, Walgenbach says. Around Mother’s Day, Options United will start promoting a smart phone app in which Catholics and others can pray for women in crisis and donate money to them by punching a few buttons on their mobile phones.

Birth Choice, which offers free pregnancy tests and other services for women experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, as well as well-woman care exams, prenatal care and parenting education and counseling, is another agency with which the diocese remains very active.

“The diocese is an advocate and partner to Birth Choice Health Clinics. They partner with our clinics financially, in volunteer support, and through referrals. Many parishes have our clinic information located at the back of the church, in the bulletins or on their website. The dedication of the diocese helps us to serve as many women and children as possible. Their support has been critical to our mission,” says Kathleen Eaton Bravo, chief executive of Birth Choice.

 

Birth Choice
Health Clinics birthchoiceoc.org

Mission Viejo – 28201 Marguerite Parkway #13; (949) 364-3928

Santa Ana – 1105 N. Tustin Ave, D-1; (714) 836-5447

Orange – 1215 East Chapman Ave.; (714) 202-0223

Birth Choice Mobile Clinic – 92 Argonaut, Suite 215 Aliso Viejo; Clinic direct line: 714-267-2111 Toll-free: (800) 771-5089

Shelters

Mary’s Shelter – Accepts pregnant and parenting girls under 18

Santa Ana (714) 730-0930 teenshelter.org

Horizon Pregnancy Center

15601 Springdale Street, Suite 109 Huntington Beach (714) 897-7500 horizonpc.org

Precious Life Shelter – Accepts pregnant moms 18 years and older, parenting and placing for adoption

Los Alamitos (562) 431-5025 Toll-free: (877) 880-5469 preciouslifeshelter.org

Santa Ana Life Center

1106 E. 17th St., Suite C Santa Ana (714) 835-5433 internationallifeservices.com

La Habra Life Center

579 W. La Habra Blvd. La Habra (562) 691-9395 Toll-free: (888) 504-0188 (24hrs) LaHabraLifeCenter.org

Stanton Life Center

8100 Chapman Ave. Stanton (714) 543-7334 internationallifeservices.com

Casa Teresa & Hannah’s House Accepts pregnant moms 18 years and over, parenting and placing for adoption

Orange (714) 538-4860 casateresa.com

Other

Vietnamese Pregnancy Hotline

24-hour hotlines with trained client advocates who offer free client advocacy, self-administered pregnancy testing, infant supplies and medical referrals to Vietnamese pregnant women in crisis. vietrespectlife.org

Viet Pro-Life

P. O. Box 26392 Santa Ana, 92799 vietrespectlife@gmail.com Hotlines: (714) 721-8557(714) 654-6877 • (714) 654-6047 vietrespectlife.org

 

This article was first published in Orange County Catholic newspaper on May 7, 2014.

EPISODE #12
OC CATHOLIC RADIO: GUESTS INCLUDE GREG WALGENBACH, SCOTT MELVIN, LORI STANLEY, CRAIG JOHNSON

OC Catholic Radio Host and Editor of Orange County Catholic newspaper, Patrick Mott welcomes this week’s guests.

Greg Walgenbach, director of the Office of Life, Justice and Peace at the Diocese of Orange, shares the work his office does on a day-to-day basis, as well as the services and resources the office provides.

Scott Melvin, director of Choral Music at Mater Dei High School, shares how the program at Mater Dei continues to exceed expectations for musical excellence.

Lori Stanley from Blessed Sacrament School, shares the winning experience of the Academic Decathlon team at the school.

Craig Johnson, head hockey coach at Santa Margarita Catholic High School, discussed how hockey became a sport at the school and his philosophy of coaching.