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

On this week’s program, we visit with a married couple who have a wealth of fun an interesting stories to share. Their names are Tom and Joanne Peters, and they have been married for more than 50 years. To top it off, they just happen to be the owners of the Christ Cathedral Gift Shop, which is housed right here on the campus of Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove.

Listen as Tom & Joanne share their amazing and inspiring journey of faith together.






Original broadcast date 7/10/21


Making a holiday gift to a nonprofit organization has never been more important. “Orange County has been hit especially hard during COVID due to our tourism industry,” says Kimberly Jetton, MNM, CFRE, executive director of the Orange Catholic Foundation. “Unemployment rates are astronomical, leading to families in crisis with housing, food insecurity, and medical bills. As Catholics, we are called to help our brothers and sisters in Christ whenever possible.” 

Where to donate with so many people in need? “Look to see what local organizations are providing needed goods and services that touch your heart,” says Jetton. Here is a list of nonprofits that work to help people internationally, nationally, and right here in Orange County. 




Catholic Charities of Orange County 


What they do: Provides free groceries three days a week through the Doris Cantlay Food Distribution center; immigration and citizen assistance; nutrition education, a crisis hotline and more.   

What it needs: Food donations and money to support programs 

Accepted donations: One-time or monthly pledges of any amount  

How to donate: PayPal and credit card through website,; call 714-282-3043 



The Orange Catholic Foundation  


What it does: Provides grants to scholarship funds for students and crucial support for parishes and outreach ministries. 

What it needs: Financial donations to support programs 

Types of giving: One-time or monthly pledges of any amount; employer matching; planned giving 

How to donate: Credit card, cash or check via website,; send check to Orange Catholic Foundation, 13280 Chapman Avenue, Suite 430, Garden Grove, CA 92840 



Orangewood Foundation 


What it does: Helps foster children prepare for adulthood by strengthening their emotional and physical health, teaching life and work skills, providing housing referrals, and supporting educational goals. Note: Due to Covid, donated items are accepted in drive-by drop-off only. 

What it needs: One-time or monthly donations; personal hygiene items, groceries, new clothing, household supplies, crafts items and gift cards 

Types of giving: One-time or monthly donations of any amount; employer matching; United Way contributions; planned giving; stocks 

How to donate: Credit card via website,; send check to Orangewood Foundation, 1575 E. 17th Street, Santa Ana CA 92705; call 714-619-2100 





Operation Shoebox 


What it does: Puts together boxes and Christmas stockings full of snacks, personal care items, notes of thanks and other goodies and sends them to American troops around the world. 

What it needs: Individual financial donations, corporate sponsors, donations of individually wrapped cookies, ramen noodles, beef jerky and granola bars 

Types of giving: Donations of any amount 

How to donate: Credit card, PayPal or E-check via website, 



Project Angel Tree 


What it does: Brings “gifts and the gospel” to children of incarcerated mothers and fathers every Christmas through community efforts. 

What it needs: Individual or church parish donations of money and/or Christmas gifts for children 

Types of giving: One-time or monthly donations of any amount 

How to donate: Call 800-206-9764, Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m. (EST); send check to Prison Fellowship, P.O. Box 1550, Marrifield, VA 22116-1550 



Boys & Girls Clubs of America 


What it does: Provides safe places for kids to thrive and programs that focus on academics, health and leadership with trained staff to guide, coach and motivate children. 

What it needs: Financial donations to support programs 

Types of giving: Donations of any amount   

How to donate: Credit card, stocks, employer matching and more via website 





Malala Fund 

What it does: Invests in educators and education advocates for girls in regions where girls are missing out most. 

What it needs: Donations to support programs 

Types of giving: One-time or monthly donations; stocks; bequests; employer matching 

How to donate: Credit card, bank transfer, Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal via website,; checks to The Malala Fund, Lockbox 11114, P.O. Box 70280, Philadelphia PA 19176-0280 


Sometimes it seems impossible to hear God’s voice. Other times, it’s difficult to ignore.  

His voice was loud and clear in my head as I researched this column, which was supposed to be about how Catholics can go beyond merely attending Sunday Mass to become active members of their parishes. 

I wanted to know how we can forge deeper faith by volunteering to serve as lectors, Eucharistic ministers, ushers, CCD teachers and in other positions. Yet, in interviewing Katie Dawson, the Diocese of Orange’s director for Parish Faith Formation, I unintentionally hit a nerve. 

Volunteering isn’t the right word for active engagement with the Church, Dawson explains. Our baptism calls us each to fully participate in a robust faith community. And, “Mass” means “to be sent forth,” Dawson explains, so every week God renews the call for us to deeply live our Catholic faith. 

Being a good Catholic no longer means just participating in the sacraments and sending the kids to parochial schools, she adds. Our faith instead compels us to act; as the priest says, we must each ‘go forth and proclaim the glory of God.’ 

Dawson’s remarks were a personal challenge: I must stop being complacent about my faith. It’s time to act. But where do I begin? 

Dawson wisely put me in touch with St. Edward’s Parish’s Cathy Roby, lead presenter, who offers Called & Gifted programs upon request to parishes. Roby says the workshops change participants’ and parishes’ lives alike by helping individuals identify their unique gifts and matching them with parishes’ specific needs. 

“When we have a deeper experience of God, all kinds of things start happening,” Roby notes. “We want to get out of the pew, past being nominal Catholics with no deep yearning for engagement of any kind. People come to the workshops searching for something more.” 

In Called & Gifted workshops, participants learn what a spiritual calling is and what it means to be a lay person who is called to serve. They learn about the 24 different characteristics or “charisms” that individuals can possess and how each of the charisms work. 

By matching each person’s charism to a parish need, the Called & Gifted philosophy goes, you no longer have unhappy volunteers ill-suited to their jobs. Instead, you fill the CCD classrooms with people who have the teaching charism. 

“Jesus says ‘I come to give life and life to the full,’” Roby says. “When I do what I am called to do, I have a wonderful feeling of that aliveness.” 

While there aren’t any Called & Gifted workshops for me to attend soon, I’m asking Dawson if I can borrow a set of CDs published by the Colorado-based company that developed Called & Gifted. Roby has volunteered to sit down with me to assess my own charism, although I strongly suspect it will involve writing and editing, my chosen profession of four decades. 

Called & Gifted workshops are a local embodiment of Pope Francis’s call for personal evangelism that is sweeping the U.S., Roby adds. “There is a whole evangelism thing that is happening across the country.  

“Like a sleeping giant, as more people wake up to this whole idea of engagement, they realize they can have a deeper relationship with Jesus. They can become enlivened Catholics, and they see what that can look like.”


VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Christmas will not be authentic if people get caught up in a frenzy of shopping, presents and meals, all while ignoring the poor and forgetting who the celebration is really all about, Pope Francis said.



“If Christmas ends up as just a beautiful traditional holiday,” where everything revolves around “us and not him, it will be a lost opportunity,” the pope said Dec. 19 during his weekly general audience in the Paul VI audience hall.

“Please, let us not make Christmas worldly! Let us not put aside the one being celebrated” — which is what happened at Jesus’ birth when so many of “his own people did not accept him,” he said.

With less than a week to go before Christmas, Pope Francis dedicated his audience talk to the true meaning of Christmas and the kind of “gifts” and surprises that are pleasing to God on that day.

“Trees, ornaments and lights are everywhere” to remind people of the coming holidays, the pope said, and the advertising and promotional “machine invites people to exchange more new gifts to surprise” others.

“But is this the holiday that God likes? What kind of Christmas would he want, what gifts and surprises?” the pope asked.

The answer to figuring out what God wants, he said, is to look at the first Christmas.

The day of Jesus’ birth was a day “full of surprises” in which everybody’s life took totally unexpected turns, and customs and plans were turned upside down, he said: Mary, a virgin, was going to have a child; Joseph, her groom, faced scandal with her pregnancy, but listened to God and took her as his wife; and the divine Word came as an infant incapable of speech.

Those who welcomed the savior of the world were not the local authorities, leaders or ambassadors, the pope said. Instead they were “simple shepherds, who, surprised by an angel while they were working at night, rushed there without delay. Who would have expected that?”

God does the unexpected, the pope said, since he “overturns our logic and our expectations.”

Christmas, therefore, “is welcoming on earth surprises from heaven,” the pope said.

Christmas ushers in a new era, in which “life is not planned, but is given, where one does not live anymore for oneself, according to one’s own preferences, but for God and with God because from Christmas onward, God is the God-with-us, who lives with us and walks with us.”

It is a time to let oneself be “shaken by his surprising novelty” because Jesus offers not the “reassuring coziness from a fireplace, but the divine shiver which shakes history.”

Christmas “turns the tables” because the victors are humility over arrogance, simplicity over abundance, silence over noise, prayer over “me time” and God over one’s ego, he said.

People should likewise choose God’s silent voice over the “uproar of consumerism,” he said, inviting people to take time out to sit in silence before a Nativity scene and let themselves feel awe and be surprised by God.

God asks people to be on guard against spreading themselves too thin, being overburdened with busyness and blaming it all on the world when he warns people to not let themselves be dragged asunder by the world.

“It will be Christmas if, like Joseph, we make room for silence; if, like Mary, we tell God, ‘Here I am’; if, like Jesus, we are close to those who are alone; if, like the shepherds, we leave our sheepfolds in order to be with Jesus,” Pope Francis said.

“It will not be Christmas if we seek the blinding lights of the world, if we fill ourselves with presents, lunches and dinners, but we do not help at least one poor person, who resembles God because God arrived poor on Christmas.”



From holiday advertisements that arrive in your mailbox, to email alerts received on your phone, to TV commercials blasting deals, you’ve been flooded with gift ideas for everyone on your Christmas shopping list. Here are a few ideas from the staff at OC Catholic – ideas that not only offer lovely gifts for the Catholics in your life, but those that are purchased at also support the ministries of the Diocese of Orange.  



The growing online store of the Diocese of Orange has a wide selection of rosaries. From rosaries for toddlers made from colorful beads, to those made of pearls, sapphires and crystal, you’ll find just the right one for everyone on your list. 



Ideal for younger Catholics, but also a good resource for anyone, are books about Catholic saints. “The Picture Book of Saints” is colorful and instructive.  

Also in this category, consider gifting someone a set of Saints Cards. Like baseball cards, each one details the story of the featured saint.  

Though not as focused on religion as the above suggestions, the book “Rockne & Jones,” by Thomas Rupp, chronicles the Notre Dame vs. USC rivalry and how the battle with the Trojans began at the height of the turbulent years after WWI. 


Catholic home accents 

You’ll also find beautiful Advent wreaths, candles and crucifixes, as well as statuary, plaques and posters in the OC Catholic store. 


Say the rosary with famed Dodger announcer Vin Scully 

The organization Catholic Athletes for Christ partnered with Immaculate Heart Radio last year to produce an audio recording with the legendary Vin Scully leading the rosary. According to the group’s website it has become one of best-selling Catholic CDs. The two-CD recording includes all four mysteries as well as meditations based on St. John Paul II’s 2002 Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae. It is also available on iTunes, Google Play Music. 


Give the gift of a Heavenly Light 

The Orange Catholic Foundation continues its fundraising for the renovation of Christ Cathedral. You can help by dedicating one of the more than 11,000 glass panes on the cathedral to your loved one. Panes range from $40 to $10,000, depending on location, and can be dedicated to an individual or to commemorate an event (i.e. marriage or baptism). 


The Pope’s Cologne 

Our gift guide wouldn’t be complete without featuring one of our all-time favorites: The Pope’s Cologne, from Monastery Greetings. Featuring scents of violet and citrus, the fragrance is said to be blended from the private formula of Pope Pius IX (1792-1878).