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Host Rick Howick interviews guests on a variety of topics.

On this week’s show, Rick welcomes Dr. Erin Barisano back to the program. Dr. Barisano is the Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Orange.

Our topic of discussion today will center on the state of Catholic education in Orange County. How are things looking as we embark on this new year of 2021?

Listen in, and be encouraged!





Originally broadcast on 1/16/21



Host Rick Howick welcomes our own Auxiliary Bishop Timothy Freyer back to the studios of OC Catholic Radio.

In this lively conversation, we’ll be talking about the coronavirus, vaccines, and Catholic ethics.

“The bishops of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange fully support the California Catholic Conference’s statement on the COVID-19 vaccinations. After thorough research and reviewing the statement from the Pontifical Academy for Life, we find the vaccines morally acceptable and imperative in the ongoing effort to curb the coronavirus pandemic. 

We are hopeful and encouraged by the promise these scientific breakthroughs represent, and urge the 1.3 million Catholics in Orange County to take any and all appropriate steps to protect themselves and their families. We pray for them as we pray for the world. 

We still have much work to do, but we now have hope and a path forward rooted in the healing ministry of Jesus Christ.  We place our trust and confidence in the providence of God.” 

– Bishop Kevin Vann, Bishop Timothy Freyer, Bishop Thanh Thai Nguyen 


Be sure to SHARE with a friend!




Originally broadcast on 12/26/20


Episode No. 6 Christmas favorites 2020                

As we celebrate Christmas during this time of the Covid Pandemic, David Ball and Guest Daniel Ficarri guide us through some of their favorite Christmas Carols and Choral works – familiar music of the season

during these strange times. While most live Christmas music is on hold following safety guidelines, we can at least listen to cherished arrangements and performances of Carols usually sung all over the world,

including so many classics from David Willcocks, John Rutter, and even Mr. Candlelight himself, Dr. John Romeri. Also during this year that Pope Francis has declared a Year of St. Joseph, discover The Cherry

Tree Carol, one of the only carols to tell a story featuring Joseph.

A safe and Merry Christmas to all!


WASHINGTON (CNS) — The “gravity” of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and “the lack of availability of alternative vaccines,” are “sufficiently serious” reasons to accept the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, the chairmen of the U.S. bishops’ doctrine and pro-life committees said Dec. 14.

“Receiving the COVID-19 vaccine ought to be understood as an act of charity toward the other members of our community,” they said. “In this way, being vaccinated safely against COVID-19 should be considered an act of love of our neighbor and part of our moral responsibility for the common good.”

The bishops addressed the moral concerns raised by the fact the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have some connection to cell lines that originated with tissue taken from abortions.

However, this connection to morally compromised cell lines is so remote and the public health situation is too grave to reject the vaccines, said Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine, and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities.

Late Dec. 11, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave emergency-use approval to the Pfizer vaccine, with approval expected for Moderna the week of Dec. 14. UPS and FedEx began shipping the doses across the country Dec. 12, with the first shipments arriving Dec. 14.

Each state has a distribution plan for administering them. National guidelines call for health care workers and those in nursing homes and long-term care facilities to be first in line to get immunized.

On Dec. 8, The Lancet medical journal reported that four clinical trials of a third vaccine, being developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca “appears to have moderate efficacy in preventing symptomatic illness, and may significantly reduce hospitalization from the disease.” Astra Zeneca is expected to apply to the FDA for emergency use of its vaccine in the coming weeks.

Bishop Rhoades and Archbishop Naumann said they found the AstraZeneca vaccine it to be “more morally compromised” and concluded this vaccine “should be avoided” if there are alternatives available.

“It may turn out, however, that one does not really have a choice of vaccine, at least, not without a lengthy delay in immunization that may have serious consequences for one’s health and the health of others,” the two prelates stated. “In such a case … it would be permissible to accept the AstraZeneca vaccine.”

Shortly after Pfizer and Moderna announced Nov. 11 and Nov. 16, respectively, that their vaccines were 95% effective against COVID-19, critics claimed the vaccines have been produced using cells from aborted fetuses, leading to confusion over “the moral permissibility” of using these vaccines.

Bishop Rhoades and Archbishop Naumann addressed this issue in a Nov. 23 memo to their fellow bishops and addressed it again in their 2,400-word statement Dec. 12. In the memo they noted some were “asserting that if a vaccine is connected in any way with tainted cell lines, then it is immoral to be vaccinated with them. This is an inaccurate portrayal of Catholic moral teaching.”

In their new lengthy statement, the two committee chairmen emphasized that any such cell lines were derived from tissue samples taken from fetuses aborted in the 1960s and 1970s and have been grown in laboratories all over the world since then.

“It is important to note that the making of the rubella vaccine — or that of the new COVID-19 vaccines — does not involve cells taken directly from the body of an aborted child,” Bishop Rhoades and Archbishop Naumann said. “Cells taken from two abortions in the 1960s were replicated in a laboratory to produce two cell lines that can be reproduced again and again, indefinitely.”

“To make the rubella vaccine, cells from these cell lines are stimulated to produce the chemicals necessary for the vaccine,” they explained. “It is not as if the making of the vaccine required ever more cells from ever more abortions.”

The two committee chairmen said the Vatican, through the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical Academy for Life, “has offered guidance on the question of whether it is morally acceptable to receive a vaccine that has been created with the use of morally compromised cell lines.”

Both the congregation and the academy “emphasize the positive moral obligation to do good,” they said, “and in so doing to distance oneself as much as possible from the immoral act of another party such as abortion in order to avoid cooperation with someone else’s evil actions and to avoid giving scandal, which could happen if one’s own actions were perceived by other people to ignore or to minimize the evil of the action.”

“Our love of neighbor should lead us to avoid giving scandal, but we cannot omit fulfilling serious obligations such as the prevention of deadly infection and the spread of contagion among those who are vulnerable just to avoid the appearance of scandal,” the two prelates said.

At the same time, the bishops also cautioned Catholics against complacency about the moral issue of abortion and ethical issues surrounding the development of some vaccines.

“While having ourselves and our families immunized against COVID-19 with the new vaccines is morally permissible and can be an act of self-love and of charity toward others, we must not allow the gravely immoral nature of abortion to be obscured,” Bishop Rhoades and Archbishop Naumann said.

“It is true that one can receive benefits from an evil action in the past without intending that action or approving of it. The association with the evil action that comes with receiving benefits from that evil action, however, can have a corrupting influence on one’s perception of the evil action, making it more difficult to recognize it as evil,” they explained.

“One might become desensitized to the gravely evil nature of that action. One might become complacent about that action and ignore the obligation to do what one can to oppose the evil action,” they said, adding that others might see “one’s acceptance of benefits from an evil action” and feel the action isn’t really evil, feel less urgency “to oppose that evil” or even miss opportunities to do what they can “to oppose it.”

“We should be on guard so that the new COVID-19 vaccines do not desensitize us or weaken our determination to oppose the evil of abortion itself and the subsequent use of fetal cells in research,” Bishop Rhoades and Archbishop Naumann said.


Bishop Vann recalls the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

On a gloomy morning about a week into the temporary suspension of all Masses that he ordered on March 17, the bishop arrived early to preside over a 6:30 a.m. Mass that was to be livestreamed to the faithful from Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove. 

“I pulled up and it was raining and there were people outside kneeling, trying to see inside the church,” said Bishop Vann, who also that day dispensed Catholics from the obligation of attending Sunday Mass. 

The bishop felt the sense of isolation parishioners were experiencing because they weren’t allowed to come together in their usual parish setting. 

Some felt irritable. Others, he recalled, felt angry. 

The stress and trauma caused by the pandemic were only beginning. 

But as the bishop took in the scene of the locked-out parishioners, he also recognized something else. 

“There was a palpable sense of them really trying to have some connection to their church community,” he recalled, recounting this story months later, during a panel discussion on Zoom hosted by Be Well Orange County. 

In that hour-long session on Oct. 6, Bishop Vann and other religious leaders discussed mental health, substance abuse, and the role of the faith-based community of Orange County in trying to heal the afflicted in the anxiety-addled era of COVID-19. 

“What we’re trying to show folks is that there’s a reality here greater than themselves — that there’s God’s mercy and love and strength and healing for them,” Bishop Vann said during the discussion, which also featured Kay Warren, co-founder of Saddleback Church; Rabbi Richard Steinberg, senior rabbi at Congregation Shir Ha-Ma’alot; and Sheikh Yassir Fazaga, religious leader of the Orange County Islamic Foundation in Mission Viejo and director of the mental health department at Access California Social Services Agency in Anaheim. 

“We have a whole series of blessings that we are using so we can pray with these folks for whatever their current concerns are,” Bishop Vann continued. “It’s important for them to know that God is here and that they are not by themselves. We are with them and God is with them.” 

It’s a sentiment the bishop has echoed at a steady series of public appearances he has made since the pandemic began and that he continues to make – at schools, hospitals, funerals, special outdoor Masses, and more. 

The recently divisive presidential election, along with the ongoing racial divide in the country, unemployment, and other societal challenges, has only added to the trauma unleashed by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19. 

As of press time the disease had killed 1,586 in Orange County, 19,437 throughout California, and more than 276,000 in the United States. 

Bishop Vann has made it a priority that the pandemic isn’t killing people’s faith. 




Since his tenure at the Diocese of Orange began in 2012, the bishop has presided over many memorable events, highlighted by the Holy Year of Celebration leading up to the dedication of Christ Cathedral on July 17, 2019. 

A year later to the day, the bishop found himself in a vastly different place: at the clinical units where COVID-19 patients were being treated at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange. 

His visit came three days after a surge in COVID-19 cases had forced the second shutdown of houses of worship statewide, although churchgoers still could attend Mass outdoors or watch services online. 

Wearing a white face covering, Bishop Vann prayed with St. Joseph nurses, doctors, and other healthcare providers who were caring for the sickest COVID-19 patients. 

He also provided a brief blessing over the hospital’s paging system that everyone could hear, and he also delivered a televised Mass in the hospital’s chapel. 

“I’m very happy about the bishop’s concern and outreach to our caregivers,” said Sister Nancy Jurecki, director of mission leadership and spiritual care at Sisters of Providence Health System, of which St. Joseph Hospital is a part. “He is certainly a friend to our hospital.” 

Cathy Fletcher, mission leader at St. Joseph Hospital, said the bishop’s visit on Friday, July 17, boosted the spirits of frontline caregivers. 

 “His blessings and prayers were greatly appreciated,” she said. 




On the afternoon of Friday, Sept. 25, Bishop Vann stepped inside Christ Cathedral just before a funeral was to be held for Jesus Aguilar, 92. 

As loved ones waited for the service to begin at 2 p.m., the bishop walked up to the urn containing Aguilar’s ashes. 

He prayed that Aguilar would enjoy eternal life as he made the sign of the cross. 

“Thank you, Father,” a relative of Aguilar said. 

A few hours later, the bishop was at La Purisima Catholic Church in Orange to celebrate an outdoor Mass under a white tent during which 73 young parishioners received the sacrament of Confirmation. 

“It’s a huge blessing to have him here,” said the Rev. Martin Nguyen, parochial vicar.  

Minutes before Mass began, Dagny Rodriguez, an 18-year-old senior at Villa Park High School, walked up to her mother, Heidi, who was handing out hand sanitizer to the socially distanced attendees. 

“I feel really honored to be able to have him come and perform this special ceremony for all of us,” said Dagny, holding a Holy Spirit medallion necklace that all Confirmation candidates received. “It’s really nice that we’re going to be blessed with his presence and that he’s going to be able to confirm us into the Church.” 

Wearing a red face covering, Bishop Vann addressed the candidates at the late-afternoon ceremony. 

“The breeze among us now is like the breeze of the Holy Spirit coming here to help you shine the light of God (on others),” he said. 

Switching between English and Spanish, the bishop recalled having dinner at a nearby hilltop restaurant and seeing the lights of La Purisima church. 

“I mention this because that’s like up the mountain where Jesus was,” Bishop Vann said. “He would take his disciples up the mountain where God would teach him. This evening, my friends, Jesus brings us up the mountain, and your mission is to be that light that I saw that evening and to be that light of Christ, and to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit and accept the mission that God has given you.” 

The bishop mentioned how these are not easy times. 

“But it’s the time that God has given us,” he noted. “We are called to be witnesses to that light, to help people see in the pathway of life, and you can show the way…so everyone can see that God is here.” 




On Oct. 5, Bishop Vann served as celebrant at the 32nd-Annual Red Mass of Orange County, held on an outdoor patio at Christ Cathedral. The Red Mass brings together the legal community of Orange County to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit and receive God’s grace to strengthen the resolve of lawyers and judges as they face the ever-increasing challenges of our times. 

This year’s Red Mass, of course, was markedly different from past ones. The St. Thomas More Society of Orange County celebrated its first Red Mass in Orange County in 1988. 

“This makes me think of the times throughout the centuries that Red Masses have been conducted while plagues or wars or other challenges loomed,” said William J. Brown Jr., president of the St. Thomas More Society of Orange County. 

“It’s a great year to hold a Red Mass to give prayers of thanks for the blessing of the rule of law in our country, and the fine public service by those who operate our legal system,” Brown added. 

 On the Oct. 6 panel discussion on mental health, moderated by Lauren Brand and Jennifer Brya of Be Well OC, Bishop Vann and others noted how the pandemic has triggered a spike of people in crisis. 

“The faith community does not necessarily as a whole have a good reputation around treating people with mental illness with kindness and compassion, or with wisdom or understanding, or even scientific knowledge,” Kay Warren said. 

The bishop agreed, adding that this must change. 

“We’re trying to show people that there’s a reality here greater than themselves at the current moment — that there’s God’s mercy and love and strength and healing, and that we’re here to help be with them and pray with them,” he said. 

As Thanksgiving Day 2020 approached, with worsening COVID-19 infections sparking yet another closure of indoor church services, among other restrictions, Bishop Vann’s comments that day continue to resonate even louder now. 

“The need to really be with someone suffering and to share their challenges has become very evident,” said Bishop Vann, noting that the pandemic has disproportionately affected certain communities, such as Hispanics, more than others.  

He said he’s made a special effort these past several months to minister to the marginalized, noting that the diocese has many resources – including food banks and a crisis line – for those in need during the dark days of a global pandemic. 

“I’m here as a shepherd,” Bishop Vann said. “I’m here as somebody who cares for them. 



Editor’s Note: Below is a statement from Diocese of Orange bishops regarding the COVID-19 vaccines. 


“The bishops of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange fully support the California Catholic Conference’s statement on the COVID-19 vaccinations. After thorough research and reviewing the statement from the Pontifical Academy for Life, we find the vaccines morally acceptable and imperative in the ongoing effort to curb the coronavirus pandemic. 

We are hopeful and encouraged by the promise these scientific breakthroughs represent, and urge the 1.3 million Catholics in Orange County to take any and all appropriate steps to protect themselves and their families. We pray for them as we pray for the world. 

We still have much work to do, but we now have hope and a path forward rooted in the healing ministry of Jesus Christ.  We place our trust and confidence in the providence of God.” 

– Bishop Kevin Vann, Bishop Timothy Freyer, Bishop Thanh Thai Nguyen 


Editor’s Note: The following is a statement from the California Catholic Conference. 


The California Catholic Conference affirms that the imminent Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are morally acceptable and commit to working closely with Catholic health care ministries and Catholic Charities to: 


  • Promote and encourage COVID-19 vaccinations in collaboration with state and local governments and other entities; 
  • Advocate on behalf of vulnerable populations to ensure that they have access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines; and, 
  • Provide regular and accurate information to parishioners and the community in support of morally acceptable, safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines. 


Life has changed this year in ways few of us could have imagined. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought loss of life and livelihood to every community, rich and poor. We mourn for those who have died and for their families, and we offer our prayers and assistance to those struggling with loss of businesses, unemployment, loneliness, anxiety and other traumas brought on by this calamity. 


Fortunately, two COVID-19 vaccine candidates will likely be granted emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before the end of the year, and one or more vaccines will likely become widely available in 2021. While the vaccines are still under review, they have been extensively studied in rigorous clinical trials and early safety and effectiveness findings look promising.  


The chairs of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops’ Committees on Doctrine and Pro-Life Activities, the Catholic Health Association and other respected moral theologians have found the early vaccine candidates to be morally acceptable. 


We welcome this news and look forward to the distribution of safe and effective vaccines with a sense of relief, while recognizing the formidable logistical challenges that lay ahead for vaccine developers, health care providers, governments and others. 


All the arch/dioceses in California, together with Catholic health care ministries and Catholic Charities, support the eradication of disease that disrupts human life. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines promote health in face of a devastating pandemic that no one expected. We want to reemphasize that the origins of the vaccines are morally acceptable from a Catholic perspective and their advancement fosters the common good. We also affirm that those who are most vulnerable must have a privileged place in their distribution and allocation. 


Therefore, California dioceses, various state and local outreach ministries, Catholic health care systems and hospitals offer to assist with this massive undertaking in the following ways: 


The California Catholic Conference, Catholic health care systems and Catholic Charities commit to promoting and encouraging COVID-19 vaccinations in the communities we serve. 


Dioceses have a special relationship with Catholic health care providers and will work closely with them and rely heavily on their guidance. Many also already work with other providers, such as in bringing health care to farmworkers. These collaborations will be utilized as appropriate and new ones established when they can be helpful. The dioceses and the Catholic health systems will also continue to work with the California governor’s office, the Department of Public Health, and county and local public health agencies.   


Our collaboration commits to strong outreach to vulnerable populations such as farmworkers, undocumented individuals and low-wage earners who seek guidance and assistance from our ministries. Much of this work will focus on promoting or establishing, if necessary, safe locations for undocumented individuals and others who may not have regular access to health care, are unsure of the motives behind the vaccination or are not certain where to turn for help.   


We commit to providing clear information to parishioners and communities in support of safe and effective vaccines. At a time when misinformation clouds our public discourse it is critical that we focus our efforts on clear, culturally appropriate and effective messaging. 


It is also vitally important that we work together in a spirit of solidarity and cooperation. As Pope Francis recently expressed: 


At a time when everything seems to disintegrate and lose consistency, it is good for us to appeal to the “solidity” born of the consciousness that we are responsible for the fragility of others as we strive to build a common future. Solidarity finds concrete expression in service, which can take a variety of forms in an effort to care for others. And service in great part means “caring for vulnerability, for the vulnerable members of our families, our society, our people”… Service always looks to their faces, touches their flesh, senses their closeness and even, in some cases, ‘suffers’ that closeness and tries to help them. Service is never ideological, for we do not serve ideas, we serve people. [115] 

 – Fratelli tutti, Pope Francis, 2020 


Finally, we offer a special thanks to the health care professionals who have and will continue to care for the sick; to essential workers that enable society to continue functioning; for scientists and researchers who brought us to this moment; to teachers and parents struggling to educate children; to workers in ministries finding innovative ways to bring spiritual and corporal resources to congregations; and to everyone who has helped carry the burden of others during this pandemic.   


We pray for them as we pray for the world. We still have much work to do, but we now have hope and a path forward rooted in the healing ministry of Jesus Christ.  We place our trust and confidence in the providence of God. 


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


On this episode, host Rick Howick welcomes Mike Schabert to the program.

Mike is the Associate Superintendent of Marketing and Enrollment in the Department of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Orange.

Listen as he shares his story and vision for the future of Catholic education for our boys and girls.

Be sure to SHARE this podcast!





Originally broadcast on 10/17/20


Today’s program will certainly have its own unique “flavor.” Get ready for an amazing blessing and incredible teaching from Fr. Augustine Puchner. He is a Norbertine priest, and pastor at St. John the Baptist Church in Costa Mesa, CA.

What is so unique about today’s podcast is the intimacy of the setting. This audio was taken directly from an online conference recently put together by Deacon Steve Greco and the Spirit-Filled Hearts Ministry (based in Irvine, CA).

Fr. Augustine is speaking on behalf of Deacon Steve’s powerful new book, “Be Not Afraid;” as drills down deep on the topic of ‘examination of conscience..’






Originally broadcast on 8/23/20


Each week, we bring you compelling conversation with church leaders and laity. Our host and primary speaker is Rick Howick.

Today’s guest is Deacon Steve Greco, the host of the weekly radio show EMPOWERED BY THE SPIRIT, heard on Sundays at 12 noon on Relevant Radio. He’s also the founder and president of Spirit-Filled Hearts Ministry.

Deacon Steve has just written a very timely book for these times. It’s called “Be Not Afraid.”

Give us a listen and spread the word!





Originally broadcast on 7/18/20