By Cathi Douglas     5/21/2020

Local Catholic parishes may have shut their church doors against the novel coronavirus, but their essential community work continues – as does the ongoing need for committed volunteers and generous donations. 

Orange County Catholic families and individuals have a vast array of opportunities to make a difference in the community, whether by writing checks, rolling up shirtsleeves to help the needy, or providing fundamental virtual support via online connections. 



Diocese of Orange Bishop Kevin W. Vann in March ordered the doors of local churches closed in keeping with California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s edict. The shutdown effectively ended parishioners’ opportunities to drop donations into the offertory basket, so giving to parishes has significantly decreased. 

This dramatic funding decline jeopardizes ongoing church functions and ministries such as feeding the homeless, delivering groceries to shut-ins and providing services to the poor and elderly. 

For this reason, the Diocese of Orange asks Catholics to visit supportyourparishoc.org, a website that links directly to local parishes so that parishioners can easily give electronically. Local churches also welcome hand-delivered gifts and accept checks via mail. 

“The annual parish budgets rely on the regular Sunday giving as the primary source of income for the parishes,” notes Very Rev. Christopher Smith, rector and episcopal vicar, Christ Cathedral. 

“In addition to providing Mass for our parishioners, the celebration of the sacraments and a place to come to pray, parishes offer a wide variety of ministries, among them faith formation for children, youth and adults, youth and young adult ministry, ministry to seniors, ministry to the ill and homebound, liturgical ministries, outreach to the poor and marginalized, to name some,” Fr. Christopher adds. 



Catholic Charities of Orange County serves as a social services agency in the Diocese of Orange, promoting a holistic approach to social service delivery that is client-centered and community-based.  

Serving God’s people in need without regard to their religious affiliation, among the services it provides are: 

  • Food pantry distribution programs
  • Nutrition education and obesity prevention classes
  • CalFresh enrollment and education
  • Immigration and citizenship assistance
  • Counseling and therapy services for children, adults and families
  • New Hope Crisis Counseling Hotline at 714-NEW-HOPE
  • Natural family planning education
  • Camps for people with disabilities


Potential donors can send checks through the mail or make payments via PayPal or credit cards on Catholic Charities of Orange County’s website at ccoc.org. Alba Romiro, coordinator of volunteers and parish ministry, invites interested potential volunteers to contact her at [email protected] or 714-347-9668.  

The Cantlay Food Distribution Center at 2020 W. Chestnut Ave. in Santa Ana offers drive-through food distribution on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 7 a.m. to noon. Call 714-347-9694 for more information. 

Catholic Charities of Orange County is located at 1820 E. 16th St., Santa Ana CA 92701; phone is 714- 347-9600.  



The hub of local worship for Orange County Catholics, Christ Cathedral was officially dedicated in July 2019. The cathedral offers many opportunities to use one’s God-given gifts in service to others, through various ministries like Christ Cathedral Community Outreach, JOY Ministry for seniors, and educational ministries for children and adults. Call 714-282-3097 for community outreach; dial 714-282-6007 for the JOY Ministry for adults 55 and older, or call the parish office for more information, 714-971-2141. 



Your elderly next-door neighbor cannot do her own grocery shopping, so helping her by providing a bag of nutritional food and household supplies is a godsend. 

The kids down the street are going bonkers with homeschooling and separation from their friends. Picking up a couple of board games and activities they can do in the backyard will both entertain them and provide their parents with much-needed breaks. 

You can’t get together with friends for a beach walk or a coffee date, but you can Zoom your coffee break and spend a few precious moments with each other virtually. 



A handy guide to Catholic-friendly charities is at consumercatholic.com and includes organizations in need of both volunteers and financial support, including Catholic Relief Services, the Make-a-Wish Foundation International, Unbound, St. Baldrick’s Foundation, National Breast Cancer Foundation, and Haiti180.  

In addition, mental health organizations like NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, provide counseling, rehabilitation, and other support for those with mental illness and their families and friends.  

NAMI Orange County, like its affiliates nationwide, offers a crisis hotline and invites volunteers and online gifts. The local office is at 1810 17th St., Santa Ana 92705; phone 714-544-8488 for more information. 



In addition to local charities and Catholic organizations, several new opportunities have arisen in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

GiveDirectly has partnered with Propel to benefit recipients of SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, to create a Covid-19 cash program. Visit the website at givedirectly.org/covid-19/us/ for more information. 

The National Coalition for the Homeless maintains a directory of local homeless shelters; see the list at nationalhomeless.org.