Sign Up for Our Newsletter!

Sign-Up to receive updated stories from OC Catholic.


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

On this episode, Fr. Christopher welcomes another longtime friend and former parishioner of St. Callistus Parish in Garden Grove. Once the diocese made the purchase of the then Crystal Cathedral campus, he and his family navigated over to the new facility (as many others did as well).

Kevin has quite the servant’s heart, and we look forward to hearing and sharing some fascinating first-hand stories on this podcast.





Originally broadcast on 7/25/20


Host Rick Howick interviews guests on a variety of topics. This week, Rick spends some time with good friend, Sheila Beingessner of St. Joseph Radio. They’ll be talking about the upcoming “Catholic Man of the Year” annual event, taking place in March.

This diocese-wide event is designed to honor those who do so much work behind the scenes.

They deserve to be honored!






Originally broadcast on 2/15/20


Service is the oxygen of faith. Belief in the risen Christ will save us, but service to that faith validates and proves what we believe.  

In St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians 2:16, he tells us that a person is not justified by works of the law, but through faith in Jesus Christ. But later in Romans 2:6-7, St. Paul says God will repay everyone according to his works.  

Rather than argue over faith or works, the Catholic Church says it is both. Going to Sunday Mass doesn’t automatically check off the “faith” box any more than donating to a worthy cause checks off the “works” box.  For salvation, God asks that we focus both our faith and our works into dynamic affirmation of our commitment to Him.  

Every parish in the Diocese of Orange has its own ministries and outreach programs that give members a chance to put their faith into action. Most of these projects are highly localized and driven by the interest of the parishioners. This is a great thing.  

However, there are a lot of projects that are county-wide in scope or too large for one parish to take on. Under the leadership of Director Greg Walgenbach, the Diocese of Orange Office of Life, Justice and Peace is the command center for Diocesan outreach in the county.   

“Service is the mission of the Diocese of Orange as we are the local Church which is made up of all the parishes,” says Walgenbach. His office facilitates parish involvement in the work of a number of Catholic charitable organizations that together have a significant impact on Catholic outreach to people in need.   

For example, several years ago food distribution centers in North Orange County were noticing that more and more people were coming for help to make ends meet and put food on the table. According to Walgenbach, “Our office supported clergy and parish leaders from three churches in Fullerton – St. Philip Benizi, St. Juliana Falconieri and St. Mary’s – to effectively engage with the community to find answers. The Diocese role was to help the parishes connect to organizations such as the Illumination Foundation, which provides shelter and support services for homeless families, and individuals in Orange County and St. Vincent de Paul.    

The parishes began monthly meetings with Fullerton City staff and councilmembers to address community service gaps that were not being met and to advocate for solutions.  As the discussions progressed the Fullerton City Council started to make policy decisions that moved the discussion from charity to change. 

While most local nonprofits focus on a single mission, the Diocese is involved in many important initiatives.  

The Life, Justice and Peace Office distributes grants from 25% of the funds raised locally by the USCCB Catholic Campaign for Human Development, a national Catholic anti-poverty effort. Some of the organizations that have received funding include Obria, a crisis pregnancy clinic; Justice and Education; Higher Ground Youth and Family Services; Thomas House Family Shelter; Creer Comunidad Familia, and American Family Housing. 

There is always a need for people to become involved. 

More than 600 people work in jails with the Restorative Justice Ministry to the incarcerated. The Lights On program, which is part of St. Vincent DePaul, stations people outside jails to help prisoners who are released in the middle of the night with no one to meet them.   

Food pantries such as the Doris Cantlay by Catholic Charities and St. Vincent De Paul are connected with a network of food pantries throughout the county.  

Unfortunately, a plurality of children in foster care come from families that identify as Catholic. The office provides resources for parishes to recruit foster parents through the county and Olive Crest. 

Another increasing problem in Orange County is human trafficking and labor trafficking, otherwise known as slavery.  The office helps parishes build awareness by distributing materials and information prepared by the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force.  

The Pro-Life movement supports one of the most foundational principals of our faith – the respect for all human life from conception through natural death.  Precious life shelter, Casa Theresa, Mary’s path, Horizon Pregnancy Center, the Viet Respect Hotline and three Obria locations are all supported by the Diocese to embrace women during and after their pregnancies. 

On the other end of the life spectrum, the End of life ministry embraces a whole person care initiative offering clarity and support in conformance with Catholic teaching so that people can say yes to life in all its forms.  

For Catholics, we are called to respond when we see suffering. “Faith and service is what God created us for – to care for creation and the common good,” said Walgenbach. “I can’t imagine worshiping God without serving others as well.”   

Anyone who wants to learn more about the Diocese Office of Life, Justice and Peace can subscribe to the newsletter at


“Mercy is the willingness to enter into the chaos of another.”

—Fr. James F. Keenan


As the long summer days stretch on, many Catholic parents struggle to identify activities for the whole family that combine faith, fun and community service. In the spirit of mercy that Pope Francis embraces, what are some activities that can help us show God’s mercy?

One approach is to identify seven spiritual works of mercy the family can pursue. Scripture readings about mercy and forgiveness can be incorporated with each of these activities.

Ÿ Feed the hungry. Help make sack lunches at your local homeless shelter. Offer to pay for your friend’s lunch or drink. Volunteer to help serve dinner at a soup kitchen once a month. Help serve a pancake breakfast with the Knights of Columbus.

Ÿ Give drink to the thirsty. According to the World Health Organization, a child dies from a preventable disease associated with lack of clean water every 20 seconds. Learn about the many places worldwide where water is precious. Work out a water-conservation plan for your home. Consider a donation to the Global Aid Network’s Water for Life Initiative.

Ÿ Clothe the naked. Collect clothes and shoes to donate to the Goodwill or another local charity. Pass on your family’s clean, but gently used children’s clothing to a needy family with kids.

Ÿ Shelter the homeless. Deliver blankets, clean socks and toiletries to the Orange County Catholic Workers’ Isaiah House, located at 316 South Cypress Avenue in Santa Ana (phone (714) 835-6304). Consider a donation to Catholic Charities of Orange County or volunteering there either short- or long-term.

Ÿ Visit the sick. Pray for the sick of your parish who are mentioned during Sunday Mass. Volunteer your time at CHOC – Children’s Hospital Orange County and spend some time reading or playing games with the kids and their families. Visit the elderly at a nursing home. The elderly often are lonely and need human interaction.

Ÿ Visit the imprisoned. The Diocese of Orange Restorative Justice & Detention Ministry trains volunteers to minister in jails and juvenile detention facilities. The ministry also accepts financial donations, and holy cards, snacks, and specific rosaries and Bibles (contact the office before sending or dropping off these items).

Ÿ Bury the dead. Help remember those who have passed on with prayers. Volunteer at a hospice program. Find ways to help a family in your parish that is grieving over a loved one, by cooking a dish or helping babysit their children.

Ezekiel says that God’s mercy can make even the driest land become a garden and can restore life to dry bones. Our family acts of mercy help us renew our love with Jesus, build stronger ties with our Catholic faith community, and grow closer to each other in humble service to our fellow man.

As Pope Francis said in his 2013 Easter Message, “Let us enable the power of His love to transform our lives, too; and let us become agents of this mercy, channels through which God can water the earth, protect all creation and make justice and peace flourish.”



For Catholic women, determining a vocation means knowing the facts

Even the most observant Catholics may not know much about women religious. The differences between nuns and sisters, why women choose to join particular religious orders, and the reasons some orders are enclosed, or cloistered, and others are not – this can be unfamiliar territory to both Catholics and non-Catholics.

While it’s common to use the terms “nun” and “sister” interchangeably – and the title of “Sister” is used to address both of these individuals – nuns and sisters lead different lives. A nun is a religious woman who lives a contemplative and cloistered life of meditation and prayer for the salvation of others, while a religious sister lives an active vocation of both prayer and service, often to the needy, ill, poor or uneducated.

“Vocations are given by God,” says Sister Eymard Flood, the Vicar for Consecrated life for the Diocese of Orange. “Some women are called to active service, some to contemplative life.” Vows for nuns and sisters are similar, except that nuns vowing to live in enclosed communities take a vow of permanency in which they pledge to remain in a particular convent for life, she adds. “Only Rome can change that for them, while sisters in active communities can be transferred.”


Cloistered and open convents serve differently

“Enclosed” is the preferred term (rather than “cloistered”) in reference to religious orders of men and women, explains Sister Eymard. In enclosed religious communities, nuns typically observe vows of poverty, chastity and obedience in addition to permanency. Nuns may decide to dedicate their lives to serving all other living beings, or might be ascetics who voluntarily choose to leave mainstream society and live lives of prayer and contemplation in a monastery or convent.

Enclosed orders of men include the Benedictine and Trappist monks, while enclosed religious orders of women include Dominican, Carmelite and Ursuline nuns. Two of the enclosed orders of nuns closest to Orange County are the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles and the Poor Clare Nuns in Santa Barbara.

The Poor Clare nuns were founded in the 13th century by Saint Clare under the inspiration and guidance of Saint Francis of Assisi. “Our vocation is a precious gift within the mystery of the Church and a source of grace for the world,” the Poor Clares’ website explains. “Our hidden life is a silent proclamation of God’s existence and says that he is worthy of all our love.”

Women called to contemplative life do more than pray, Sister Eymard explains, but may take on work that comes from outside their convents. Still, nuns are not permitted to leave the convent to run to the store or go to the theater.

In contrast, the sisters most known within the Diocese of Orange are those who teach at many Catholic schools, minister at hospitals and serve in charitable ministries – like the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Orange. Their history began in 1912 when Mother Bernard Gosselin and eight sisters moved from LaGrange, Ill., to serve in the Sacramento diocese. The sisters built a motherhouse in Eureka, then many schools and their first hospital in Orange.


Determining a vocation and deciding on an order 

Women interested in religious ministry should pray, think about and fully research the kind of life they are called to lead, advises “A Guide to Religious Ministries for Catholic Men and Women,” a 2009 book that lists the nation’s religious communities. “Learn about the particular organization or denomination in which you anticipate pursuing a career.” Talking with trusted friends, family members and spiritual advisers can help.

Once she identifies her desired order, a woman called to religious life undergoes the process called discernment in which she works with the congregation’s vocations director. During the discernment process, she experiences the order’s culture, receives spiritual direction and may live in the convent for a period of time.

“The discernment process can be different for each ministry and each candidate,” Sister Eymard says. “It depends on the woman’s background, education and age or if she has been married before.” Once she and the order agree that she can join, it may be seven to 10 years before she takes her final vows.

While religious life certainly isn’t for everyone, many women continue to be called to be nuns and sisters in open and enclosed congregations, Sister Eymard says. “There will always be a place in the Church for consecrated men and women,” she says. “As long as there is an opportunity for ministry, people will be committed for life.”



This year the Rosary Academy faculty and staff turned their annual retreat day into a day of service. Take a look at what they accomplished and the example they set for the students they educate.