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On today’s episode, Deacon Steve welcomes two members of the Spirit Filled Hearts team to the studio: Katie Hughes and Michael Aimola. This discussion is a follow-up to the recently completed St. Joseph Summit. It was really quite an amazing and successful online summit, that featured about 64 unique speakers. These included all three of our bishops here in the Diocese of Orange: Bishop Vann, Bishop Freyer, and Bishop Nguyen.

Tune in, and be inspired!






Originally broadcast on 10/17/21


Catch up with Deacon Steve Greco on Empowered by the Spirit. As we continue in this ‘Year of St Joseph,’ as instituted by Pope Francis, we present you with this dynamic broadcast.

Today’s title is: “St Joseph Our Spiritual Father.” Deacon Steve’s special guest today is Gil Alderete, the president of Catholic Men’s Fellowship of California.

Please be sure to share this podcast with others!






Originally broadcast on 9/12/21


On this episode, Deacon Steve Greco welcomes singer/ songwriter/ recording artist Donna Lee to our studios on the campus of Christ Cathedral. Donna blesses us with her beautiful voice as she sings ‘acapella’ some of the new music that the Lord has given her.

Pope Francis declared this as the ‘Year of St. Joseph.’ In response, Donna will tell us about the song that she wrote and recorded to mark this wonderful year of celebration.

Please be sure to share this podcast with others!






Originally broadcast on 9/5/21


VATICAN CITY (CNS) — With increased violence unfolding in Afghanistan, Pope Francis appealed to all Christians to fast and intensify their prayers.

“I ask everyone to continue to help the needy and to pray that dialogue and solidarity may lead to the establishment of a peaceful and fraternal coexistence and offer hope for the country’s future,” he said, after praying the Angelus with visitors in St. Peter’s Square Aug. 29.

He said he had been following the news out of Afghanistan “with great concern.”

“I take part in the suffering of those who are grieving for the persons who lost their lives in the suicide attacks that happened last Thursday and of those who are seeking help and protection,” he said.

The pope was referring to the Aug. 26 attack when a suicide bomber detonated an explosion among the crowds of people desperate to leave the country at the gate of the Hamid Karzai International Airport. The blast killed at least 169 civilians and 13 U.S. service members, who were set to withdraw from the country by Aug. 31. Thousands of Afghans were seeking to be evacuated as well. The Islamic State claimed responsibility, saying the suicide bomber was targeting Afghan collaborators with the U.S. army.

The pope said, “I entrust the deceased to the mercy of almighty God and I thank those who are striving to help” the people who have been through so much, in particular the women and children.

“In historic moments like this one, we cannot remain indifferent; the history of the church teaches us this,” he said.

“As Christians this situation obligates us,” he said, launching an appeal to everyone “to intensify your prayer and practice fasting. Prayer and fasting, prayer and penance. This is the moment to do so. I am speaking seriously: intensify your prayer and practice fasting, asking the Lord for mercy and forgiveness.


Fr. Christopher Smith covers “all things Christ Cathedral” on the Cathedral Square radio show. He also relishes the chance to welcome good friends to the studio, located high atop the Tower of Hope. Today’s guest is extra special.

Sr. Kit Gray has made her presence known in the Diocese of Orange for many years, most notably in her vital work with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange.

Today, they will discuss Pope Francis’  declaration that 2021 would be ‘the Year of St. Joseph.’


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Original broadcast date 5/1/21


While this Lent may have felt as though it began a little over a year ago at the height of the pandemic, the promise of Easter resonates more profoundly for Catholics this year. 

Before March 2020, Easter Sundays were a time of great celebration and social gathering. Most Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday Masses were typically standing-room only and were followed by fellowship with friends and family on the way out of church, a potluck feast in the parish hall or an egg hunt for children in the courtyard. A global public health crisis instantly changed all of this and much more.  

It was only in recent weeks that COVID-19 vaccinations became available to more people and churches, schools and businesses were allowed to re-open at reduced capacity.  

“We believe that Christ conquered death with his resurrection,” said Monsignor Stephen Doktorczyk, vicar general for the Diocese of Orange. “But there’s a saying that there would be no Easter Sunday without first a Good Friday.”  

Monsignor Doktorczyk explained that the losses experienced in the last year can help people “become more appreciative for the health, friendships and jobs we have.” Emphasizing that God is ultimately in control, he hopes that people have used this time to grow deeper in their relationship with God.  

“I think that in conjunction with what this Easter event means in general and put it in light of our ‘special circumstances,’ maybe it should be even more glorious of an occasion,” he said.  

Father Angelos Sebastian, pastor at St. Kilian Parish in Mission Viejo, points to the Gospel of Matthew 16:21-28 as an example of what Jesus expects of his followers. In this passage Jesus tells Peter and his disciples that he will have to suffer, die on the cross and rise from death to bring new life to the children of God. Peter immediately reacts in disbelief and tells Jesus that he shouldn’t have to experience suffering and death. But Jesus responds, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”  

Father Sebastian thinks that Peter’s reaction happens to a lot of us.  

“We often fail to understand the ways of God when suffering comes,” he said. “When inconveniences or illnesses happen, we think that’s the end and begin to question, ‘Where are you God? Aren’t you supposed to be here to help me when I am suffering? Is suffering part of this deal?’ We keep questioning God. But Jesus’ way is different. God’s way is different. God shows us through the cross that we all have to go through this phase of passion and suffering. Which we’ve been experiencing this past year. The most beautiful part of our faith journey is what is to come. That is what Easter is showing us. Easter is a great feast of hope. The most beautiful thing of life is what Jesus promises. New life with God. Resurrection with Jesus.”  

He encourages people to be prepared to carry the cross in order to become disciples of Jesus.  

“The Christian way is directly opposed to the ways of the world,” he explains. “But you have to deny yourself to follow Jesus. That’s what leads people to share in the glory of the resurrection. So in order to experience the glory of the resurrection, we have to also be willing to share the suffering of Christ. The people who understand the ways of the Lord are able to understand why their suffering is happening. They don’t question God, but rather they say, ‘God give me the grace to embrace it as you want me to.’” 

Monsignor Doktorczyk wants the faithful to also focus on Jesus as man and God. It’s the key to fully understanding the meaning of the resurrection and how it’s important to our Catholic faith.  

“Jesus was not limited by the torture and physical death,” he explains. “The empty tomb gives us much certitude that the resurrection really did occur and should give us certitude that Jesus is not just a nice man or one prophet among many or just a wonderful teacher…the resurrection shows that he was fully man and fully God because this is not an event that happened to anyone else. Only Christ. That should give us certitude if we need it. The resurrection is a proof that he was God.”  

The stress of a pandemic weighs heavily on many Catholic families, but Father Sebastian wants the faithful to remember that it’s not the end.  

“If you believe in Jesus Christ then we are to believe that we are the resurrection people. We are the Easter people,” said Father Sebastian. “So Good Friday and suffering is not the end of the story. It’s only the beginning. There’s so much more beauty in Christian life.” 


On today’s podcast episode, host Rick Howick welcomes Lesa Truxaw to the program. Lesa has served the Diocese of Orange for close to 20 years; and, she brings a wealth of ministry experience to the table. Her title is “Director For the Office of Worship” at the Pastoral Center in the Diocese of Orange.

Our key area of discussion today is the proclamation made by Pope Francis that is of such great importance for 2021: “The Year of St. Joseph.”

What exactly does that entail? Tune in and find out!





Originally broadcast on 3/6/21


VATICAN CITY (CNS)Bringing the Vatican official in charge of translations with him, Pope Francis signed his new encyclical, “Fratelli Tutti, on Fraternity and Social Friendship,” at the tomb of St. Francis of Assisi, source of the document’s title and inspiration. 

After celebrating Mass at St. Francis’ tomb Oct. 3, the eve of the saint’s feast day, the pope called up Msgr. Paolo Braida and explained to the small congregation that the monsignor is in charge of “translations and the speeches of the pope” in the Vatican Secretariat of State. 

“He watches over everything and that’s why I wanted him to be here today,” the pope said. He also brought with him the Spanish official who oversaw the accuracy of the various translations and the official who translated the text from Spanish into Portuguese. 

Pope Francis set the text on the altar under the tomb of St. Francis and signed it. 

The encyclical was scheduled to be released to the public Oct. 4 just after midday. 

Pope Francis arrived late for the Mass in the crypt of the Basilica of St. Francis after making a brief stop in Assisi at the Basilica of St. Clare, which houses the tomb of the close follower of St. Francis and founder of the Poor Clares. 

The pope did not give a homily during the Mass, simply praying silently for several minutes after the reading of the Gospel. The text was that prescribed for the feast of St. Francis, Matthew 11:25-30, which begins, “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.” 

Because of measures designed to contain the coronavirus pandemic, the Mass was described as “private.” Only about two dozen people were in the small crypt chapel; they sat socially distanced, one person in each pew, and wore masks. 

Several Franciscan sisters were present, as were the ministers general of the main Franciscan orders of men: Father Michael Perry, minister general of the Franciscans; Father Roberto Genuin, minister general of the Capuchins; and Father Amando Trujillo Cano, minister general of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis. 


VATICAN CITY (CNS) — When Zoe, 10, showed up late for summer camp at the Vatican, she did not expect to see Pope Francis there.

“I froze because it was a surprise and I had never seen him before. I liked him a lot. I was very happy and I said ‘hello,'” she told Vatican News.

Zoe was one of about 100 children of Vatican employees attending a summer camp for the month of July.

The children start the day with breakfast in the Paul VI audience hall and, at 9 a.m. July 20, Pope Francis made a surprise visit, walking there alone from his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

Salesian Father Franco Fontana, a chaplain at the Vatican overseeing the program, said he had just left to make photocopies when someone told him the pope was heading to the audience hall.

The priest had a car, “so I got there before the pope” to be able to welcome him, he told Vatican News.

“The kids were so stunned they stayed completely silent,” he added.

The pope greeted the children, who were finishing their breakfast, and asked them how they spent their day and if they were happy.

Father Fontana said he was struck by the way the children interacted with the pope, sensing his openness, “simplicity and paternal nature.”

Pope Francis wanted the summer program to support employees with families given the ongoing restrictions and fewer organized summer activities available during the global pandemic.

The summer program, organized by the Salesians and a private association, “Tutti in una Festa,” offered the children activities such as swimming, tennis, basketball, games and walks in the Vatican Gardens, while respecting Italian government protocols and recommendations for preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

The pope also greeted each of the 22 camp counselors and posed for a group photo with everyone, before he walked back to his residence.


VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Humanity has failed to take care of the earth and its inhabitants, sinning against God and his gift of creation, Pope Francis said.

Celebrating Earth Day, which fell during the “Easter season of renewal, let us pledge to love and esteem the beautiful gift of the earth, our common home, and to care for all members of our human family,” he said during his livestreamed weekly general audience from the Vatican.

The pope dedicated his catechesis April 22 to a reflection on the human and Christian responsibility to care for the earth, humanity’s common home. The day marked the 50th Earth Day, which was established in 1970 to raise public awareness and concern for the environment and its impact on people’s health and all life. This year also marks the fifth anniversary of the pope’s encyclical, “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home.”

In his catechesis, the pope said Earth Day was “an occasion for renewing our commitment to love and care for our common home and for the weaker members of our human family.”

“As the tragic coronavirus pandemic has taught us, we can overcome global challenges only by showing solidarity with one another and embracing the most vulnerable in our midst,” he said.

As the Book of Genesis relates, he said, “we live in this common home as one human family in biodiversity with God’s other creatures,” and God has called on humanity to care for and respect his creation and “to offer love and compassion to our brothers and sisters, especially the most vulnerable among us, in imitation of God’s love for us, manifested in his son Jesus.”

God is good and always forgives, the pope said, however, “The earth never forgives: if we have despoiled the earth, the response will be very bad.”

“Because of our selfishness, we have failed in our responsibility to be guardians and stewards of the earth,” the pope said. “We have polluted and despoiled it, endangering our very lives.”

The pope expressed his deep appreciation for the many international and local movements and initiatives that have been created in an effort to raise awareness and stir people’s consciences and he said it will still be necessary “for our children to take to the streets to teach us the obvious: we have no future if we destroy the very environment that sustains us.”

“We have failed to care for the earth, our garden-home; we have failed to care for our brothers and sisters. We have sinned against the earth, against our neighbors and ultimately against the Creator, the benevolent father who provides for everyone and desires us to live in communion and flourish together,” he said.

It is imperative that people restore “a harmonious relationship” with the earth and with the rest of humanity, he said.

It requires a new way of looking at the earth, not as a “storehouse of resources for us to exploit,” but as a sacred gift for sustaining all of humanity.

The pope said so many natural tragedies “are the earth’s response to our mistreatment.”

“If I ask the Lord now what he thinks, I don’t think he will tell me something very good. We are the ones who have ruined the work of the Lord!” the pope said.

“In today’s celebration of Earth Day, we are called to renew our sense of sacred respect for the earth, for it is not just our home but also God’s home. This should make us all the more aware that we stand on holy ground!” Pope Francis said.

An “ecological conversion,” which stems from a loving and respectful contemplation of the earth’s beauty and leads to concrete action is needed, he said.

Because the world and all its people are interdependent, the pope said, the whole international community must cooperate in the protection “of our common home.”

For this reason, the pope urged leaders to “guide the preparations for two important international conferences” — the COP15 on biological diversity to be held in Kunming, China, and the COP26 on climate change in Glasgow, Scotland, both of which have been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The pope said he supported the many forms of cooperative action on national and local levels.

“It will help if people at all levels of society come together to create a popular movement” from the grassroots, much the same way Earth Day was founded, he said.

The pope’s online audience was just one of countless contributions to Earth Day celebrations, which took to the digital landscape because of the global pandemic.

While the Earth Day Network at coordinated global initiatives, the Focolare Movement was part of organizing a #OnePeopleOnePlanet “multimedia marathon” in Italian online, on television and radio. Also supporting the Italian Earth Day events were the Vatican dicasteries for Communication and Promoting Integral Human Development as well as the Congregation for Catholic Education and the Pontifical Council for Culture.