Sign Up for Our Newsletter!

Sign-Up to receive updated stories from OC Catholic.


It is always a pleasure to have new friends join us in the studio, high atop the Tower of Hope on the campus of Christ Cathedral. The topic on the table today is all about some wonderful, Godly servants who reside at St. Bonaventure Catholic School in Huntington Beach. They are known as ‘The Presentation Sisters.’ On this podcast, host Rick Howick welcomes three unique guests: Alexa Vellanoweth (a former student at St Bonaventure), Kim White (the principal at St. Bonaventure) and Vanessa Frei (Director of Marketing and Enrollment).

So what exactly is a “NUNUMENTARY?” Tune in, and find out!







Originally broadcast on 5/15/21


Welcome to another episode of Cathedral Square featuring host Fr. Christopher Smith.

On this episode, we welcome Julianna Tapia (the Principal of CC Academy) and Patti Abeyta (Preschool Director of CC Academy).

Today’s conversation covers all the goings-on at Christ Cathedral Academy, including important issues regarding COVID-19 and school closures throughout the diocese.

Amidst it all, we have some good news to share!




Originally broadcast on 10/31/20


Here comes another episode of Cathedral Square featuring host Fr. Christopher Smith.

We welcome to the program today Ashley-Rose Cameron (the Interim Principal of CC Academy) and Kwang Nguyen (Director of Development and Enrollment).

Today’s conversation covers all the goings-on at Christ Cathedral Academy, including important issues regarding COVID-19 and school closures throughout the diocese.

Amidst it all, we have some good news to share!






Originally broadcast on 6/13/20


On this podcast, Deacon Steve Greco welcomes some folks who have traveled a great distance to reach our studio today. How does 7000 miles sound to you?

Sr. Neseta Vargas is the Mother General of the Augustinian Order.  She works tirelessly in the area of education in her native country of the Philippines. Our other guest is Fr. JP Alvarado from the Ministers of the Infirm.

Our discussion centers around the street kids they minister to each day; and, how you and I can lend a helping hand from where we are.






Originally broadcast on 12/8/19


This podcast is the inaugural edition of “Catholic School Connection” with Dr. Erin Barisano! Dr. Erin is the Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Orange.


Her guests today are principals of schools based in Anaheim: Sr. Johnellen Turner of St. Catherine’s Academy; and, Mike Brennan of Servite High School.





Originally broadcast on 3/9/19



Host Rick Howick interviews guests on a variety of topics. On this week’s show, Rick welcomes Dr. Erin Barisano to the broadcast. Erin was recently named Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Orange. This is her first time on the show.

Barisano joins the Diocese of Orange from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, where she serves as deputy superintendent. There, she oversees 30 schools in the San Gabriel Valley and the Archdiocese’s leadership formation program.

Tune in for this engaging conversation!






Originally broadcast on 9/1/18



VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Life is a long series of hellos and goodbyes, so don’t be afraid to let go of the past; remember old friends, but keep moving and be open to the new, Pope Francis told students as the school year was coming to an end.

“We have to learn to see life by seeing the horizons,” not the walls that can make people afraid because they don’t know what is on the other side, he told thousands of adolescents during a 45-minute encounter at the Vatican June 2. The middle-schoolers were part of Communion and Liberation’s “The Knights of the Grail” educational initiative.

In the informal Q-and-A, a teen named Marta told the pope how scared she was to be leaving middle school and most of her best friends as they head on to high school next year. “Why do I have to change everything? Why does growing up make me so afraid?” she asked him.

“Life is a constant ‘Good morning’ and ‘Farewell,'” he said, with the goodbyes sometimes being for forever.

“You grow by encountering and by taking your leave,” he said. “If you don’t learn to say goodbye well, you will never learn how to encounter new people.”

This moment of change in life is “a challenge,” he said, but “in life we have to get used to this journey of leaving something behind and encountering something new.”

Noting that Marta had used the word “afraid” a number of times in her question, the pope said the risk that comes with the challenge is that fear will render a person immobile, “too serene” and unable to grow.

Those who give up, settle down and say, “Enough,” close off the horizons that are out there waiting for them and do not grow.

“Look at that wall? What’s behind it?” he asked the girl. “I don’t know,” she said.

“But if you go outside, to the countryside, what do you see?” he asked. “I see everything,” she replied.

“Everything! You see the horizon,” the pope said. “We have to learn to see life by looking at the horizons” that are always open, always lying ahead, by meeting new people and having new experiences.

Instead of framing the future with terms like “fear” or “afraid,” he added, try “using the word ‘a challenge’ more” and remembering, “I will win this challenge or I will let this challenge defeat me.”

“Look at the wall and think about the horizon that lies in the countryside,” he said. The more a person journeys toward the horizon, the farther, longer and wider that horizon becomes.

Remember to call and visit old friends, he said, “but live and journey with the new ones.”

When asked how kids their age could change the world when it has so many problems, the pope told them they have to begin with the people and situations in their daily lives.

Think of what happens to a person’s hand when sharing a piece of candy, for example: It’s open and moves toward the other person, the pope said. Now think of what happens when a person wants to keep that candy for himself or herself: The hand closes up tight and moves away from the other.

One’s heart has to be like the hand that is responding in a positive, generous way, not the negative, self-centered approach, he said.

“You can begin to change the world with an open heart,” the pope said, and by listening to others, welcoming others and sharing things.

Pray for everyone, including one’s enemies and “those who make you suffer,” he said, “Never return evil with evil.”

Don’t bad-mouth, insult or wish bad things would happen to others, he said. “That’s how you can change the world. There is no magic wand, but there are little things we can learn to do every day.”

Pope Francis suggested that the kids meet up to openly discuss the right and the wrong ways to respond to the many difficulties or choices that have to make each day.




“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”

—Proverbs 22:6


Teachers and parents must teach their kids the value of sharing, the importance of knowing how their actions affect others, and why thoughtfulness is so important for Christ-like living.

A sense of social responsibility furthers the Catholic belief that the other person is as valuable as I am and deserves respect as an individual and someone who is loved by God, says Principal Brad Snyder of St. Joseph School, a Catholic preK-8th grade school in Santa Ana.

“We talk about Catholic social justice and we start at the beginning with 4-year-olds,” Snyder says. “We do it through our religion classes and the stories we tell from the Bible about the Good Samaritan and how we take care of our neighbors.”

Because St. Joseph’s students come from very diverse, impoverished backgrounds, Snyder says it’s important that they learn how to be there for each other, and how they can look beyond themselves to be the change they want to see in their community.

Teaching children values can begin when they are still quite young, agrees Louise Valdez, faith formation coordinator for St. Junipero Catholic School in Rancho Santa Margarita, which has more than 1,000 PreK-8th grade students.

“As an educator, I start at the beginning and, knowing the stages of development, ask ‘where is this child right now as far as their viewpoint?’” Valdez says. “It is critical because we are a Catholic school to also assess where they are in relation to God.”

Elementary school students are learning as youngsters that two-way relationships are beneficial. “If I’m nice on the playground, others will be nice to me,” Valdez uses as an example. “You can’t start too early to teach kids to be empathetic with each other.”

Teaching kids empathy is vital, Valdez notes, referring to “The Blessing of a Skinned Knee,” in which author Wendy Mogel uses Jewish teachings to teach parents to raise self-reliant children. “It talks about how our mission of perfection sets our kids up to fail and encourages parents to let their children be unique and ordinary.”

From a Christian point of view, Valdez notes, parents and educators must be channels of grace. “God is constantly communicating His grace through us so we can share it. He shows us how to be charitable to others, give each other hope, and pray over others. No child is too young to participate in that, to learn to be a channel of grace.”

Praying as a family at every opportunity and counting blessings together teaches kids that their needs are part of the family’s priorities.

In elementary school, Valdez says, kids see that everyone wants to be valued. “When the teacher is praying, they light up because they know those prayers from praying at home and they want to lead them.”

Learning the parts of the Mass introduces children to the concept that much of the Catholic faith is tradition. “Explaining tradition and teaching them to understand faith is important. It also can be difficult. Sometimes parents don’t understand presence of Jesus themselves.”

Valdez notes that all of us need to be involved in some way in someone else’s life. “Middle school is the perfect time to open students’ eyes to service,” she says. “By taking advantage of service opportunities, such as participating in delivering food to the homeless or visiting a facility for the elderly, we teach children about the important of being aware of other people.”


Athletics teaches kids some of life’s most profound lessons, believes Jeff Reinert, basketball coach at Santa Margarita Catholic High School. In his experience, sports teach kids preparation, teamwork, dedication and time management. They learn competition – win or lose – and develop the means to handle each outcome.

“Athletics is one of the greatest classrooms you can have for kids,” Reinert notes. “Kids in season perform better than they do outside the season because they have structure. There’s practice, weights, homework and they must carry a certain GPA to play. I’ve actually found that athletics helps academics tremendously.”

One Santa Margarita alumnus who might agree about the importance of athletic life lessons is Klay Thompson, whose Eagles jersey number was retired in Rancho Santa Margarita in January. Thompson, who helped the SMCHS Eagles to a Division III State championship in 2008, was a first round draft pick of the Golden State Warriors in 2011 and helped them win a title in 2015.

Adult competitors like Thompson know that the hard-won lessons they learned while winning and losing on the court will last well beyond high school and college competition.

The rigors of physical training required in a sport test athletes to their limit, says Coach Bruce Rollinson of Mater Dei High School’s famed football program. “Your body sends signals that you can’t do this, why are you doing this, and you test yourself to the limit,” says Rollinson, who was selected recently as 2017 National High School Football Coach of the Year by the National High School Coaches Association. “You have to learn to push yourself through that and when you do you have the satisfaction of accomplishment.”

Athletes tap into their minds to master their positions and techniques and then perform at high speed in competition, sometimes in front of thousands of people, Rollinson explains. “It gives them a sense of accomplishment to hear the crowd and feel the exhilaration of scoring a touchdown or getting a key block, and as individuals they become more confident.”

Still, even the most talented athlete knows that he can’t win the game alone, he notes. “In sports you must depend on the man or woman next to you exceeding and excelling to the best of their God-given ability. When things start to click, the sense of accomplishment and jubilation becomes powerful and they share in that wonderful feeling.”

As life presents new challenges, athletes understand from experience that they must evaluate their performance to prevent future losses. “We fight daily battles in life. We don’t stop the first time something bad happens,” Rollinson says.

“I truly believe that if you can apply what was taught to you in athletics – the ethics of hard work, determination, courage and intestinal fortitude, all of those things – they help you on the path to success.”

When it comes to athletics, even Pope Francis understands that athletic skill and competition thrill and challenge us. Speaking in October, he noted, “Sports is a human activity of great value, able to enrich people’s lives.

“As far as the Catholic Church is concerned,” he continued, “she is working in the world of sport to bring the joy of the Gospel, the inclusive and unconditional love of God for all human beings.”