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It’s time for another episode of Cathedral Square featuring host Fr. Christopher Smith.

This week, Fr. Christopher welcomes Katie Dawson to the studio. Katie is the Director of Parish Evangelization and Faith Formation for the Diocese of Orange. She’ll talk about the important role we all play in sharing our Catholic faith with others. They will also discuss an event called the Diocesan Ministries Celebration that recently took place on the campus of Christ Cathedral.

Please share this podcast with a friend!




Originally broadcast on 10/9/21



Deacon Steve Greco interviews guests on a variety of topics connected to Catholic teaching and spirituality..

Today’s guest is Katie Dawson. She holds the title of Director of Parish Evangelization and Faith Formation for the Diocese of Orange.

We’ll be talking about how we can participate in sharing our faith with others on a daily basis.

Join us for this great conversation! 




Originally broadcast on 6/27/21


Deacon Steve Greco interviews guests on a variety of topics connected to Catholic teaching and spirituality..

Today’s guest is Katie Dawson. She holds the title of Director of Parish Evangelization and Faith Formation for the Diocese of Orange.

The discussion focuses on a powerful new evangelizing initiative called ‘Family Home Minutes. These are short video clips promoted primarily through the Diocese of Orange Facebook page.

Join us for this great conversation! 




Originally broadcast on 10/18/20


Host Rick Howick interviews guests on a variety of topics. This week, Rick welcomes two very special people to our studio, Katie Dawson and Fr. Al Baca. Together our guests will be talking about a very special Diocesan Ministries Celebration that is happening on the campus of Christ Cathedral on Saturday, October 12th, and YOU are invited to attend!

Listen in, and hear all about it. Please share this podcast with a friend!





Originally broadcast on 9/21/19


‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ is the age-old question asked of children beginning as early as preschool. The question is given more serious thought and discussion as young people approach high school and begin to think about the next steps after graduation, with the guidance of their parents and teachers. However, the challenge for some parents is how to help their children apply their faith to the process of discernment.

Katie Dawson, the Diocese director of Parish Faith Formation, uses a simple equation to illustrate this process:

DESIRE + ability/competence/qualifications/talent + opportunity/open door = guidance toward God’s will in your life.

“This perspective is a profoundly Catholic one that recognizes the Word of God in planting desires in our hearts and giving us the abilities, talents and skills and then the charism to do this,” Dawson says.

“A lot of times, people will talk about the word ‘discernment’ when we are thinking about God’s plan for our lives and sometimes we limit that to the question of whether or not someone is going to be a priest or religious,” Dawson explains. “But really, God has a call in each of our lives that we can identify by reflecting on what we are good at, what we really long for, what excites us, and we take those things and start looking for the opportunities to use them.”

She says that for young people who are determining where they are going to go to school and what they are going to study, the “open door” they are looking for is the ability to increase their competency in the area that interests them.

To help kids navigate the process beyond the primary mentorship of their parents, young people can also reach out to mentors who they cross paths with often, such as teachers, aunts, uncles, sports coaches, school counselors, priests, religious, or community leaders. A recent survey demonstrated that the parish community can also make an impact in the process as well. The Barna Group, an evangelical Christian polling group based in Ventura, conducted a study between 2007 and 2012 on the topic of faith and the millennial generation. It found that 45 percent of young adults who remained active in their church after high school better understood their purpose in life through church, while 12 percent of young adults who were no longer active felt similarly. Also, 45 percent of active young adults learned to view their gifts and passions as part of God’s calling, compared to 17 percent of inactive young adults who say the same. In addition, 29 percent of active young adults learned how the Bible applies to their career interests, while only seven percent of inactive young adults agreed with the idea. Although the survey research does not prove causation, it does reveal a great deal about the millennial generation and how they integrate faith and life.

Dawson, who has raised five children of her own, with her youngest son just graduating college, offers another tip for parents.

“Exposing them to many different people and work paths, was something we always tried to do so that they had real life examples of people who had different kinds of careers and not just what their parents did,” she said. “If a parent is particularly proactive in getting their kid out to look at different vocations, all the better.”


Today our children’s lives are a bustling schedule of constant activities and social events.

Catholic parents are challenged to create a meaningful faith formation for their children, competing with a world filled with the distraction of sports, clubs, television, Internet and video games.

Katie Dawson, director of Parish Faith Formation in the Diocese of Orange, says that all 62 parishes within the Orange Diocese have faith formation programs that are offered for adults and children that provide spiritual growth opportunities.

“Parents should build ‘down’ time with their children to cultivate spirituality,” says Dawson. “Children need to be reminded they have been given a great gift of life to live. They need to learn how to pray and take time to pray, and make time for solitude and reflection. Children naturally believe in God, but if the parents don’t affirm it, it will dissipate.”

The Office of Religious Education at Holy Family Cathedral in Orange is engaged in continuing the mission of Jesus Christ through evangelization and catechesis. As a community of faith they are called to discover and give meaning to the Gospel message through word, worship and service. They offer numerous children’s (and adult) faith formation programs focused on the family, the catechist and the church community. Classes are held on morality, sacramental preparations, diverse prayer experiences and Liturgical year education celebrations programs.

There are currently 26,000 children between the ages of 5 and 13 currently enrolled in faith formation classes in the Diocese of Orange.

Sally Todd, the associate superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Orange, suggests that an easy approach to begin developing children’s faith formation is to commit time each week for the family to say the Rosary or simply to share grace before a meal.

“It doesn’t have to take a lot of time, but it is a commitment,” says Todd. “Lighting a candle and saying a short prayer can be the beginning of developing faith formation within a family. Praying together promotes spiritual growth and repeated practices will help the children to develop their spirituality.”

Todd says parents should encourage the children to share their religious education with the family.

“The building of a family structure further develops when the parents and children discuss the children’s religious education at home,” Todd says.

“Other ways that families can develop a faith formation is to check the Liturgical calendar and make an effort during Lent and Advent to say the Rosary together.”

In her book, “Forming Intentional Disciples: The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus”, author Sherry Weddell emphasizes that the Church’s goal must be to help anyone who is open to developing a positive inward disposition that wants to do God’s will.

Statistics tell us that only 30 percent of Americans who were raised Catholics are still practicing and 10 percent of all adults in the U.S. are ex-Catholics; statistics also show that the number of marriages celebrated in the Church has decreased by nearly 60 percent between 1972 and 2010. If the Church is to reverse these trends, then the evangelizers must be evangelized. Weddell has designed programs to help Church leaders and parish staff and all Catholics transform parish life.

To help parents develop and maintain faith formation for their children is a major challenges for Catholics today, and the Catholic Church in Orange County continues to strive to educate and put programs in place to help the faithful.


While many engaged couples focus undue attention on beachfront weddings and sunset receptions, Catholic brides and grooms spend a great deal of time preparing for a successful lifetime together.

Catholics believe that marriage comes as a gift from the hand of God. It is to be carefully considered in light of the teachings and practices of the Catholic faith. While it may be simpler to elope in a quickie Las Vegas wedding, Catholic vows carry all the weight of a holy sacrament.

Catholic parents may nurture visions of their children at the altar exchanging vows in the church, but should they insist that their children follow through?

“This presents a Catch-22 for parents,” says Katie Dawson, director of Parish Faith Formation for the Diocese of Orange. “If the couple are not well prepared with a truly Catholic understanding of what they are committing themselves to, they are setting themselves up for problems down the line. In coming to the altar they are held responsible in the eyes of the community for all that marriage entails.”

Catholic marriage is such a serious proposition, Dawson believes. Only the two individuals considering marital commitment can determine if they are approaching marriage in the proper frame of mind.

There is no yes or no answer to parental influence, Dawson concludes. “It’s a high-stakes game. Sometimes all you can do is walk with them, ask them a few well-thought-out questions about how they are approaching it, and say a big prayer.”

The Catholic Church has a long history of helping couples prepare for marriage. Couples wishing to marry in the church participate in approved marriage preparation programs, which range from a series of weekly meetings to concentrated weekends. A team of lay married couples and a priest or deacon usually presides over these programs.

“More than ever, today our culture is ambivalent about marriage,” Dawson notes. “We have a romanticized, sentimental view of marriage as the answer to all our needs; each of us has a soul mate waiting to be discovered and if we find them, we will live happily ever after.”

In Catholic marriages, Dawson explains, baptized individuals share a transformative life of love in which the imperative is growing in love for the other.

“Romantic love will not carry the day,” she notes. “Every successful marriage involves setting aside personal preferences and expectations for the well-being of the one you’re married to. It’s a sacrificial love – not about me, but about him.”

Because Catholic marriage is a sacrament, there is an actual change in our being, she explains. “We are irrevocably changed and tied to the other whom we have married.”

In contrast to secular marriage ceremonies that can be tailored to the couple’s wishes, marrying in the Catholic Church – both literally and figuratively – is participating in a holy rite.

“The great wisdom of the church is the recognition that no one lives for their own sake,” Dawson notes. “Whether in married life, religious life or single life, a satisfying and beautiful life comes about because we give ourselves to each other. It always involves a sacrifice of some sort, determining what God wants in our lives.”



One of the many important decisions parents of newborns make is how to choose godparents. There are many misconceptions about the role of a godparent in a child’s life. A godparent is not just the guest of honor at the baptismal ceremony – it is a lifetime commitment and should be prayerfully considered by both the parents and the godparents-to-be.

According to Katie Dawson, director of parish faith formation for the Diocese of Orange and mother of five, picking godparents “can be a crap-shoot.” The way to minimize the risk of an epic fail, is for parents to really think long term when they consider who among their friends and family to ask to take on this important role in their child’s life.

Dawson urges parents, “First, look for someone who is full of faith and will help your child grow in his or her relationship with God and faith. You also need to have someone who is capable of having a positive, long term relationship with the child and will be both a good influence in their life and a role model.” With this in mind, it is better to choose someone who lives relatively close by so they can see the child at least on birthdays and holidays. When the child gets older, godparents can serve as a “second voice” for the parents to offer guidance and support to the child as they progress in their faith journey.

Because godparents are also partners in faith formation they should be strong in their Catholic faith, attend Mass and, if married, they must be in a sacramental Catholic marriage.

Sometimes family politics can make choosing appropriate godparents tricky. Sometimes godparents are chosen to honor the friendship, family relationship or because not choosing them might cause hurt feelings. “Only two names are placed on the Baptismal certificate,” notes Dawson. “But there is no restriction on the number of ‘honorary’ godparents.  This loophole often helps navigate the family dynamics issue.”

All of this underscores why it is important for parents to have a frank discussion about the role and expectations with prospective godparents to make sure they understand what you are asking of them. It is equally important to let the prospective godparents know there will be no hurt feelings if they decline. They may not be comfortable with the responsibility and should have an easy out.

In the Latino community, the concept of the “comadre/copadre” is very strong. Godparents literally embrace their role as a co-parent. However, modern American society is less conducive to the idea of “co-parenting” with other close adults. “It takes intentionality to be involved with a child even among relatives,” says Dawson. “The godparent is a partner with parents and therefore should be invited to life events, especially the Sacraments. They need to “be there” for the child, and that necessarily involves communication.”

Unfortunately, even with careful consideration and full disclosure the relationship with the godparent, for whatever reason, may deteriorate over time. If the child has developed a close relationship with the godparent, this can be especially difficult. Sometimes the godparent of a sibling can step in and help fill the gap, or parents can ask someone else to be the “honorary” godparent.

Despite the responsibility and commitment, godparenting can be a great gift and blessing. There is the potential for a beautiful relationship for everyone involved, but it takes effort to build a lifelong bond.