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Deacon Steve Greco is a permanent deacon of the Diocese of Orange. He is founder of Spirit Filled Hearts Ministry, and host of Empowered by the Spirit.  On this episode, he continues the conversation with guest Gil Alderete of Catholic Men’s Fellowship of California. The topic on the table is: “growing in holiness and spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ!”

For more, please visit




Originally broadcast on 9/4/22


Deacon Steve Greco is a permanent deacon of the Diocese of Orange. He is founder of Spirit Filled Hearts Ministry, and host of Empowered by the Spirit. Today’s podcast guest is Gil Alderete. Gil is the current head of Catholic Men’s Fellowship of California. For more, please visit




Originally broadcast on 8/28/22


Host Rick Howick interviews guests on a variety of topics. On this week’s program, Rick welcomes Fr. Quan Tran to our studio in the Tower of Hope. In addition to being a priest in the Diocese of Orange, Father also started his own ministry 3 years ago called ‘Fullness of Grace.’

Our primary focus today is to discuss a wonderful new book he wrote that’s been many years in the making.

It’s titled: “The Imitation of Mary (Keys to Growth in Virtue and Grace).”

Be sure to share this podcast with a friend or family member, so that they too may be inspired!




Originally broadcast on 12/12/20


Join Deacon Steve Greco as he welcomes Al Hughes to today’s program. Al is a retired Air Force Colonel who served his country for many years.

These days, he serves 100% of his time in service to ministry and the Catholic church. His title today is “master spiritual director.” He has also the authored several books.

Al also happens to be the dad of a key member of the Spirit-Filled Hearts ministry team, our own Katie Hughes.. Katie is one of the founders of Spirit-Filled Hearts ministry.





Originally broadcast on 12/29/19


Vatican City, Apr 2, 2019 / 07:38 am (CNA) – In his follow-up document to October’s youth synod, Pope Francis urged young people to approach holiness not only with the joy and boldness of youth, but with seriousness.

Addressing adolescents and young adults, he said: “I hope that you will be serious enough about yourself to make an effort to grow spiritually.”

“Along with all the other exciting things about youth, there is also the beauty of seeking ‘righteousness, faith, love and peace’ (2 Tim. 2:22). This does not involve losing anything of your spontaneity, boldness, enthusiasm and tenderness,” he said.

Published April 2, Christus vivit (Christ lives) is Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on the Synod of Bishops on young people, faith, and vocational discernment, which took place Oct. 3-28, 2018. It was signed March 25, the Solemnity of the Annunciation, in the Holy House of Mary in Loreto, Italy.

Francis explained that “becoming an adult does not mean you have to abandon what is best about this stage of your lives.”

“Growing older means preserving and cherishing the most precious things about our youth, but it also involves having to purify those things that are not good and receiving new gifts from God so we can develop the things that really matter.”

The 50-page letter is addressed to “all Christian young people” in particular and to the “entire People of God.” Francis stated that while the document was inspired by what emerged from synod discussions it is not exhaustive, but a summary of the proposals he considers most important.

This letter, he said, “is meant to remind you of certain convictions born of our faith, and at the same time to encourage you to grow in holiness and in commitment to your personal vocation.”

According to Pope Francis, the idea of “youth” should not be analyzed in the abstract, but always considered as concrete “young people,” each “with the reality of his or her own life.”

In his letter he focused on the obstacles faced by young people today, such as isolation, over-consumption of media, and addiction to drugs and pornography. Do not let the world “rob you of hope and joy, or drug you into becoming a slave to their interests,” the pope said.

“You need to realize one basic truth: being young is not only about pursuing fleeting pleasures and superficial achievements. If the years of your youth are to serve their purpose in life, they must be a time of generous commitment, whole-hearted dedication, and sacrifices that are difficult but ultimately fruitful.”

He warned against isolation and lack of community, which modern technology can contribute to, saying, “when we live apart from others, it is very difficult to fight against concupiscence, the snares and temptations of the devil, and the selfishness of the world. Bombarded as we are by so many enticements, we can grow too isolated, lose our sense of reality and inner clarity, and easily succumb.”

But whenever young people are united, they have a “marvelous strength,” he continued. “Whenever you are enthused about life in common, you are capable of great sacrifices for others and for the community. Isolation, on the other hand, saps our strength and exposes us to the worst evils of our time.”

Pope Francis also reflected on the contribution young people can make to the renewal of the Catholic Church through evangelization and community.

“Young people can offer the Church the beauty of youth by renewing her ability to ‘rejoice with new beginnings, to give unreservedly of herself, to be renewed and to set out for ever greater accomplishments,’” he said, quoting from the Second Vatican Council’s Message to Young People.

He said “If you are young in years, but feel weak, weary or disillusioned, ask Jesus to renew you. With him, hope never fails.” He encouraged silent prayer, discernment, and listening to God.

Even “if you feel overwhelmed by vices, bad habits, selfishness or unhealthy pastimes,” he said, “Jesus, brimming with life, wants to help you make your youth worthwhile. In this way, you will not deprive the world of the contribution that you alone can make, in all your uniqueness and originality.”

“You can become what God your Creator knows you are, if only you realize that you are called to something greater. Ask the help of the Holy Spirit and confidently aim for the great goal of holiness,” he said. “In this way, you will not be a photocopy. You will be fully yourself.”

Speaking about vocation, the pope said that, while a gift, it will “undoubtedly also be demanding.”

“In the end, [vocation] is a recognition of why I was made, why I am here on earth, and what the Lord’s plan is for my life,” he stated. Though God will not show a person every detail of his vocation, and one must prudently make one’s own decisions, “like clay in the hands of a potter, I can let myself be shaped and guided by him.”

If called to marriage, for example, having a family “is worth your every effort,” he said.

In marriage and family, he explained, “you will find the best incentives to mature and the greatest joys to experience and share. Don’t let yourselves be robbed of a great love. Don’t let yourselves be led astray by those who propose a life of rampant individualism that in the end leads to isolation and the worst sort of loneliness.”

“Dear young people, my joyful hope is to see you keep running the race before you,” the pope concluded. “May the Holy Spirit urge you on as you run this race. The Church needs your momentum, your intuitions, your faith. We need them!”


VATICAN CITY (CNS) — This Christmas will people go to adore and be amazed by Jesus, or will they let themselves be detoured by distractions? Pope Francis asked.

In fact, one sign of holiness is being able to “be astonished, to feel wonder before God’s gifts, his ‘surprises.’ And the greatest gift, the ever-new surprise is Jesus,” he told Vatican employees and their family members during a meeting Dec. 21 in the Paul VI audience hall.

The pope continued a tradition he began in 2014 of offering Christmas greetings to people who work at the Vatican. The special audience comes right after a longer-held tradition of the pope meeting with officials of the Roman Curia.

Christmas cheer was in the air as Vatican employees and their families, many dressed in festive clothes, greeted the pope and gave him Christmas cards, gifts and hugs.

Christmas is the season of joy because the source of true joy — Christ the savior — has come, the pope said.

“But often we realize that people and perhaps we ourselves are caught up in so many things and, in the end, there is no joy or, if there is, it is very superficial. Why?” he asked.

Joy, he said, comes from being holy or at least trying to be good, being close to Jesus and letting oneself be touched by wonder and “contaminated” by the joy that surrounds him.

Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and all the others gathered at the manger, gazing at the Christ child, are “overflowing with holiness and, therefore, with joy,” he said.

Mary and Joseph had so many things to worry about, but they were happy because “they welcomed this gift from God with so much faith and so much love.”

He told the employees that his wish for them this Christmas was “to be saints, to be happy.”

People must not be superficial saints, just “normal saints,” that is, people who are holy even with all their defects and sins because “we ask for forgiveness and go forward,” he said.

It takes just a little to be on the road to holiness, he said, just a small ray of sunshine, “a smile, some attention, a favor, saying sorry.”

Little things like that make the workplace “more breathable,” too, he said. It lightens up that stifling environment “we create with our arrogance, closed-mindedness and prejudices, and people even work better” with better results.

The pope reminded them to avoid criticizing others behind their backs. If something is bothering them, they should confront the person directly and speak frankly, he said, or else just bite their tongue.

Do not gossip or backstab, he said, because it destroys “friendships and spontaneity.”

With this being his sixth Christmas at the Vatican, the pope said he has gotten to know many holy people who work there.

They are “saints who live the Christian life well. If they do something bad, they apologize. But they go forward,” he said, adding, “you can live this way. It is a grace and it is very beautiful.”

Often these saints “who live next door” are hard to notice because they are modest, do their jobs well and work well with others, he said.

“And they are joyful people, not because they are always laughing, no, but because they are very serene inside and they know how to spread it to others. And where does that serenity come from? Always from him, Jesus.”

“We are not afraid of holiness,” the pope said. “I can tell you, it is the path of joy.”


WASHINGTON (CNS) — The American story began with the Catholic missionaries who first shaped the nation with the Gospel and proclaimed the dignity of all, a truth the class of 2018 must share to the betterment our country. 

That was the message Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez imparted to more than 1,600 new graduates of The Catholic University of America May 12. 

“America’s founders — including Padre (St. Junipero) Serra — dreamed of a nation where men and women from every race, religion and national background could live in equality,” the archbishop said in remarks during the university’s 129th annual commencement exercises held on the east steps of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. 

Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, university chancellor, offered the ceremony’s invocation. 

“Their vision helped make this a great nation, exceptional in human history — blessed with freedom and committed to sharing our blessings with the whole human race,” said Archbishop Gomez, a native of Monterrey, Mexico, and a member of the university’s board of trustees. 

Since 2011, he has led the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the largest archdiocese in the United States, where he has focused his ministry on marriage and family, vocations, immigration and end-of-life issues. 

Archbishop Gomez told the graduates that American society is divided and facing challenges, not related to demographics, technology or globalization, but rather a crisis of identity. 

“America has lost her way because we have lost the threads of our national story. We no longer know who we are as a people or what our national purpose is,” he said. “I say this is our biggest challenge because unless we know who we are and what we are here for, we will never be able to set the right priorities or find the right solutions to the many challenges we face.” 

To overcome these obstacles, he urged the class of 2018 to proclaim a new American story, one of “holiness and heroism,” he said. “We need a new narrative that will define us and hold us together as one people with a common purpose.” 

He said America is “alive in her saints — and we have so many! Mystics and missionaries; martyrs and immigrants; refugees and exiles. They came from everywhere to share their gifts and make this country what she was meant to be, a light to nations.” 

Archbishop Gomez was joined by four other immigrants who were receiving honorary degrees. Those honorees included Toufic Baaklini, president and chairman of the board of the nonprofit organization In Defense of Christians; Maria (Mary) Suarez Hamm, who served as the longtime executive director of Centro Tepeyac, a pro-life pregnancy aid center in Silver Spring, Maryland, and is a staff member of the Archdiocese of Washington’s Office of Worship; Dina Katabi, professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Ray Mahmood, founder of the Mahmood Investment Corp. 

Archbishop Gomez spoke of the “litany of American saints,” such as Henriette Delille; Mother Marianne Cope; Dorothy Day; Thomas Merton; Black Elk, a Lakota Sioux mystic and Catholic catechist; and Father Augustus Tolton, a freed slave and the nation’s first African-American priest. 

But he went on to say, the saints he knew from his tradition came from simple neighborhoods, parishes and families. “They are the hidden saints, saints of everyday — holy wives, holy husbands, working hard to do what is right, sacrificing for their children; being good friends and good neighbors; serving the poor and working to make their communities stronger,” Archbishop Gomez said. “We need to hold these people up as examples. Tell their stories. We need to try and be like them in our own lives.” 

He also recalled the life of Mother Maria Luisa Josefa of the Blessed Sacrament, a sainthood candidate. A refugee from the anti-Catholic Mexican persecutions of the 1920s, she became a religious sister and servant of the poor in Los Angeles. 

“Mother Luisita used to tell everyone, ‘For greater things we were born.’ My friends, this is the meaning of our lives. This is the meaning of America.” 

“America’s founders — the missionaries and statesmen — they knew this truth. They knew that we belong to a story that began long before us, the story of our Creator. They knew that we are born with a dignity and destiny that can never be denied,” Archbishop Gomez said. “No matter who we are. Or where we came from. Or how we got here.” 

The American story, he said, is neither over nor naive, but one that continues to be written in one’s daily life with God’s help and protection, through decisions made and treating others with the charity of Christ. 

“My prayer for you is that you will write a story that is filled with goodness, love and service; with prayer and thanks for simple gifts. I pray that you will always seek to know what is right — and have the courage to do it,” he told the graduates as they embark on a new chapter in their lives. 

“We can still open the door with confidence to people who are yearning to breathe free. We can still practice politics with malice toward none and charity for all. We are made for greater things,” said Archbishop Gomez in closing his remarks.  

Catholic University President John Garvey also addressed the class of 2018, speaking on the Christian virtue of hospitality, inspired by the Rule of St. Benedict, which states: “Let all guests be received as Christ.” 

Referring to biblical stories about “entertaining angels unaware,” Garvey encouraged the graduates to practice hospitality in their own lives by opening their hearts to new people and looking at those who are different with friendship instead of fear. 

“It’s a good virtue to begin life with,” he said. “You will make some friends. You will bring an open heart to the responsibilities of citizenship. You will build a loving home. And there you might someday receive Christ.”