By Meg Waters     1/20/2021

What the Lord requires of us sounds simple: “…to do the right and to love
goodness and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8 


Easier said than done. 

This is why, in the early days of the Diocese of Orange, Bishop Johnson established the House of Prayer for Priests in Orange to provide priests a place where they can be supported in their vocation and lifted up spiritually.  

For our priests who minister to the more than 1 million Catholics in Orange County, there is a quiet place especially for their spiritual renewal, the House of Prayer in East Orange. There priests from Orange and other dioceses can refresh, renew and recharge their vocation and spiritual life in Christ. The House of Prayer is available only for clergy who, like the rest of us, sometimes need a place to go where they can set aside their daily obligations and walk humbly with our God.  

For 38 years, the House of Prayer served our priests. Today Fr. Domenico DiRaimondo MSpS, is the House of Prayer director. “Often the priests come to us exhausted,” said Fr. Domenico. “They need a place with their brother priests where they can become spiritually strong.” Ministering to our priests is a special charism of the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit, of which Fr. Domenico is a member.   

The project was strongly supported by Bishop Kevin Vann who led the Rite of Blessing and welcomed more than 50 guests (with safety protocols adhered to) including donors, artisans, priests and laborers who built the new addition. He also recognized Msgr. Davis, who originally envisioned the House of Prayer as a family-home for priests, and Fr. Gordon Moreland, SJ, who recently retired from his long tenure as director.  

The Meditation Walk consists of a series of five outdoor meditation stations and the five glorious mysteries placed along a half-mile path on a previously unused hillside behind the center.  

Fr. Bill Barham brought two important donors and contractors to the project.  Julian Mendez, president of Best Management Construction, Inc. of Irvine and his brothers Estaban Mendez and Agustine Mendez donated all the labor to create the hillside pathways, native landscaping and installed the five priestly meditation stations and five Glorious Mystery stations. Rick Muth, president of Orco Block and Hardscape donated the bricks and pavers that were used to create the stations and platforms. 

“The meditation walk is a place for a priest to reflect on his own history and get in touch with what is going on in his own vocation prayer life, and apostolic ministry,” said Fr. Domenico.   

Sculptor Nohad Sabbagh created five concrete reliefs depicting the Rosary Mysteries the Resurrection, The Ascension, Descent of the Holy Spirit, The Assumption of Mary and The Crowing of Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth.   

Tile artist Marlo Bartels, assisted by Calligrapher Bradford Smith, created five meditation stations that resonate to a priest and his vocation. The first meditation is on the disciples’ enthusiasm after their first missionary journey, capturing the enthusiasm of a young priest entering the ministry. The second meditation recalls the time many disciples left when Jesus told them that to have eternal life meant to eat his body and drink his blood. The third meditation recalls the time after the Resurrection when Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” The final meditation is on The Ascension when Jesus called his disciples to go into the world and preach the Good News and reminded them that he would always be with them.  

The Orange County Knights of Columbus will be underwriting some of the costs of the artwork.  

Bishop Vann thanked everyone who participated in envisioning and creating the meditation walk.  “Our priests will have a place of light to renew their vocation.”