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The following podcast is a very timely edition of Orange County Catholic Radio, featuring host Rick Howick. As most of you are probably aware, there is a proposition on the California ballot that will very soon come up for a vote (Proposition 1). We’re going to take a close look at this proposition; and, the implications that it has on both the state of California and all over the U.S. Since Rick holds multiple degrees and is very much a Biblical scholar and expert on church history, he’s going to take us on a deep dive into God’s Word, dating back to the Old Testament. His conclusions will offer a solid, biblical background that is unabashedly pro-life.

This podcast has already generated a lot of conversation since it first aired on the radio a short time ago. Be sure to SHARE this podcast with someone you know. Let’s make it “go viral!”






Originally broadcast on 10/8/22


On today’s inspiring podcast, host Rick Howick is honored to welcome Auxiliary Bishop Thanh Thai Nguyen to our studios. Our topic of discussion today will be on an epic event that is coming to the Christ Cathedral campus. The annual “Marian Days” events have brought in scores of pilgrims to Carthage, Missouri for several years running. Listen as Bishop Nguyen shares how the Diocese of Orange is bringing our own version of Marian Days to Christ Cathedral on July 1-2, 2022.

Tune in to hear all the details. Be sure to share this information with your friends and family!





Originally broadcast on 5/28/22


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


Rome Newsroom, Sep 15, 2020 / 05:45 am (CNA) – A basilica in Italy marks the spot of a bloody episode in early Church history — and is home to an image of Mary once lost in the hills for centuries.

On Sept. 15, a Catholic shrine in the small hilltop town of Lenola celebrates the local feast day of Our Lady of the Hill.

The day, marked by Masses and — in pre-coronavirus times — a procession, honors the day a young man repented and converted after a murderous plot, before finding a centuries-old miraculous fresco of the Virgin Mary and Child Jesus.

Servant of God Gabriele Mattei and his two friends found the image, covered by rubble and thick brambles and plants, on Sept. 15, 1602, with directions from Our Lady.

The frescoed image is believed to be from the third century AD. It was painted on the wall of a cave where Christians took refuge while hiding from the persecution of the Emperor Decius.

The Christians prayed in their makeshift shrine, but their hiding spot was discovered. The Roman soldiers killed them all and left their bodies strewn about the cave.

Other Christians in the area heard about the massacre and went up to the cave with a monk to give them a proper burial.

Tired after the work, the Christians fell asleep, only to be awoken suddenly by a loud noise and bright light flooding the cave. They heard a voice saying: “Do not be afraid, hope in God, I am among you for your comfort, here is my image.”

Before them they saw an image of the Virgin and Child, surrounded by angels waving palms and crowns of martyrdom.

This vision and message brought the Christians joy and comfort as they returned back down the hill to their brothers and sisters in the faith — and probably also to their deaths.

According to the website of the Basilica della Madonna del Colle (pictured below), “the Virgin Mother remained to watch over the glorious tombs of the martyrs, waiting for a radiant dawn marked by God.”

It was not until 1,300 years later that the 23-year-old Gabriele Mattei would find himself in the same place.

A handsome young man, Gabriele had a reputation for being prideful and licentious.

On the afternoon of Sept. 14, the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, he and his friends went to the Hill of the Holy Cross, where solemn vespers were being celebrated.

The three young men were disturbing the celebration from the church square, and were scolded by an older Christian man. The men cursed the elder and hatched a plan to murder him in the middle of the night, with the task falling to Gabriele.

But that night, Gabriele was irritable and nervous and could not sleep, so he took his guitar-like instrument to a spot outside the town to play, looking for peace.

But when he tried to play, the strings did not emit a harmonious sound. His tuning failed; the guitar continued to make shrill sounds. Frustrated, Gabriele swore, threw his instrument to the ground, and invoked the devil.

Gabriele would later describe what happened to the local bishop: “At my invocation, a monstrous infernal figure appeared before me; frightened, I made the sign of the cross and invoked the help of Our Lady.”

“I was about to flee,” Gabriele recounted, “when from a shining light, a celestial voice said to me: ‘Stop, do not be afraid, you have called me! Be converted, climb this hill, you will find my image; I want you to build me a temple, and on the day of the consecration I will make a miracle shine which over the centuries will testify to my presence in your country.’”

Gabriele was suddenly smiling and meek. He went immediately to the parish church, waited for it to be unlocked, and prayed before an image of Mary inside.

According to the shrine’s website, “his presence in the Church, at that morning hour, aroused wonder among the faithful.”

He received the sacrament of reconciliation and went to meet his friends. Gabriele told them that he did not kill the man and explained what happened to him the night before. They did not believe him, but agreed to go with him to the spot described by the voice to find the image of Mary. They intended to kill him if what he told them was not true.

After hours of digging and cutting through brambles and bushes, they found the image of Our Lady, painted on the wall, with blood dripping from her lower lip.

The three young men began to pray and to shed tears of joy. At the same moment, some village children announced that “the image of Mary has been found on the hill! Let’s go to the hill,” and people rushed to the spot.

The local bishop wrote down the accounts of Gabriele and his friends, and gave his approval of the miraculous image.

The villagers quickly constructed a hut to protect the image until the church requested by Mary could be built.

Gabriele set out on a pilgrimage around Italy, France, Spain, and Portugal to share his story of conversion and ask for help to build the church. He carried with him a copy of the image of Our Lady of the Hill.

When he knocked at someone’s door, he greeted them with the words “Deo Gratias,” which means, “thanks be to God.” From this greeting, he became known as Br. Deo Gratis. After three years, he returned to Lenola with the money necessary to build the shrine.

Gabriele dedicated the rest of his life to the shrine, where he lived and served as a bell ringer. He died on Dec. 3, 1656, at age 77, when he was stabbed to death by three men at the entrance to the church.

“Now he rests in that shrine, which he raised in expiation for his errors, in honor and glory of the Mother of Jesus,” the website says.


Editor’s Note: The first editor of OC Catholic newspaper, when it was launched in 2013, was Patrick Mott. The former seminarian brought to readers a deeper understanding of the Catholic faith through his beautiful writing. We reprint this story about Our Lady, our mother, in our Mother’s Day edition. 

It also should be noted that on May 1 of this year, Archbishop José Gomez, along with our own Bishop Kevin Vann, re-consecrated the U.S. and Canada to Mary, asking protection from the pandemic. 


So closely associated is the Blessed Virgin with the month of May that many might be led to believe that Mary has had a lock on that month since her son was a boy. 

It’s a good fit, no question, but Mary and May didn’t begin to pair up in a big way until about the time Rossini was writing “The Barber of Seville”—and in roughly the same neighborhood. 

Thank the Jesuits. It was the members of the Society of Jesus living and studying in Rome in the late 18th century who first popularized the dedication of May to the Blessed Virgin, taking their cue from customs dating back to the 13th century that used Marian devotions to “Christianize” secular feast days that fell during the month. Early in the next century the Jesuits’ devotion to Mary during May spread to other Jesuit colleges in Europe and eventually to the entire Western world. 

Modern popes have shown a particular devotion to the Blessed Mother, and some have put it in writing. In his encyclical “Ad Caeli Reginam,” Pope Pius XII proclaimed the “queenship of Mary,” underscoring a practice in many countries of bestowing on Mary the title “Queen of the May.” Pope Paul VI, in his 1965 encyclical “Mense Maio,” suggested that May was an excellent time to incorporate special prayers for peace into traditional May devotions. 

“This is the month,” wrote the pope, “during which Christians, in their churches and their homes, offer the Virgin Mother more fervent and loving acts of homage and veneration; and it is the month in which a greater abundance of God’s merciful gifts comes down to us from our Mother’s throne…Mary is rightly to be regarded as the way by which we are led to Christ… For what other reason do we continually turn to Mary except to seek the Christ in her arms, to seek our Savior in her, through her, and with her?” 

In that encyclical, Pope Paul sheds light on a much-misunderstood aspect of Marian devotion: that she is an object of Catholic worship and adoration. She is honored and venerated as the Mother of God, but worship and adoration belong to the members of the Holy Trinity alone. When prayers are offered to Mary—as with all saints—they are pleas for intercession with God, a request for prayers on the petitioner’s behalf, not for direct action. Hence: “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners…” 

There is, however, lots of room for honoring and venerating when it comes to the Blessed Virgin, particularly during May. Many of the May devotional practices center on prayer, the most familiar of which is the rosary. It has been part of Church devotion since the 13th century and gained in popularity in the 19th century when Pope Leo XIII—known as the “rosary pope”—issued a record 12 encyclicals and file apostolic letters on the rosary. He emphasized the path to Christ through Mary. Subsequent popes also were enthusiastic supporters of the rosary, particularly Pope John Paul II. 

Another less familiar Marian form of prayer is the Regina Coeli (Queen of Heaven). It is an antiphon that relates to the joy of the resurrection of Jesus and refers to the angel Gabriel’s invitation to Mary to become the Mother of God. 

The Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary, also known as the Litany of Loreto, is a popular prayer of petition, asking Mary to pray for us. It was prayed during the 16th century at the Marian shrine in Loreto, Italy, and invokes the Blessed Virgin by numerous titles given to her by the early Christians: mother of good counsel, queen of angels, morning star and mystical rose, for example. It is often prayed after the rosary, and has even been set to music by Palestrina, Charpentier and Mozart. 

Perhaps the most familiar May devotion to generations of Catholic school children is the practice of the May crowning. Not as common today as it once was, the ritual generally involves a procession in which a crown of flowers, often roses, is brought to a statue of the Blessed Virgin and placed on its head, and other flowers are left at the statue’s feet. Songs are usually sung, and a particular favorite over the years has been the Victorian “Bring Flowers of the Rarest” with its familiar chorus: 

O Mary!
We crown thee
with blossoms today, 

Queen of the Angels,
Queen of the May. 


WASHINGTON (CNS) — Bishops throughout the United States, including our own Bishop Kevin Vann, reconsecrated the country to Mary as the nation continues to struggle in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Bishops in Canada also used May 1 to rededicate their country to the Blessed Mother.

Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, led a “Renewal of the Consecration of the United States of America to the Blessed Virgin Mary” May 1. The sparse, 37-minute ceremony at Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral in Los Angeles was livestreamed on Facebook, YouTube and the websites of the Los Angeles Archdiocese and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Alternating between English and Spanish, Archbishop Gomez said: “In this difficult time we turn to the Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of the church. She intercedes with her Son for all are affected in this way by the pandemic. … We implore her maternal care for her children.”

Archbishop Gomez noted Mary’s history in the United States. “The first missionaries came to this country under the mantle of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Later, the bishops consecrated her as patroness of the United States of America,” he said. “The Virgin Mary has accompanied this great nation since our beginnings,” he added. “Now in this difficult hour, we renew our consecration to her.”

The United States has been hit harder than any other nation in deaths connected to COVID-19, with 62,547 known coronavirus fatalities as of April 30, with about 2,000 more people dying each day. Although federal and state health officials have been advocating strict measures to “flatten the curve” of infections and fatalities, none have said that deaths have yet reached their peak. Some Americans have loudly grumbled about the slow pace of “reopening” states to travel and commerce, while health officials fear a second wave of infections.

“Mary was the first person to consecrate herself to Jesus, the first to offer her whole heart to do his will, to set his beautiful plan of redemption,” Archbishop Gomez said. “We ask God to give us that same faith, that same courage … the strength to follow Jesus, to seek his holiness and his kingdom.”

The ceremony featured Marian hymns including “Regina Coeli,” “Hail, Holy Queen” and a contemporary English-Latin setting of the Magnificat. It also featured the recitation of two decades of the rosary: the fifth Sorrowful Mystery, the crucifixion and death of Jesus, followed by the fifth Glorious Mystery, the coronation of Mary as queen of heaven.

At its conclusion, Archbishop Gomez said, “Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, is encouraging us to rediscover the beauty of praying the rosary at home in the month of May. We are still in quarantine in our homes.” He noted that “one of the many saints in Los Angeles was the venerable (Father) Patrick Peyton, who coined the “family rosary” and the phrase “The family that prays together stays together.”

“Maybe we can dedicate ourselves,” Archbishop Gomez said, “to find time to come together as a family to pray the rosary in our homes.”

A similar liturgy of consecration took place at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington May 1, led by Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Washington, who prayed: “In this time of pandemic, we come to you, our sign of sure hope and comfort. Today we renew the act of consecration and entrustment carried out by those who have gone before us.”

Because of local and federal social distancing and self-isolation mandates in an effort to halt the spread of COVID-19, the rededication liturgy at the basilica was not open to the public, but livestreamed on social media platforms.

This consecration reaffirms the bishops’ previous consecrations of the United States to Mary. In 1792, the first bishop of the United States, Bishop John Carroll, consecrated the nation to Mary under the title Immaculate Conception, and in 1846, the bishops unanimously chose Mary under that title as the patroness of the nation.

In 1959, Cardinal Patrick O’Boyle of Washington again consecrated the United States to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This was the year when construction of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington was completed. The national shrine was elevated to minor basilica status by St. John Paul ll Oct. 12, 1990. This was renewed by the U.S. bishops Nov. 11, 2006.

Archbishop Gregory prayed for Mary’s “intercession for the needs of our country, that every desire for good may be blessed and strengthened, that faith may be revived and nourished, hope sustained and enlightened, charity awakened and animated.”


CNA Staff, Apr 23, 2020 / 09:00 am (CNA) – Archbishop Jose Gomez, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, is inviting all U.S. bishops to join him on May 1 in reconsecrating the U.S. to the Blessed Virgin Mary in response to the pandemic. The reconsecration is timed to coincide with the bishops of Canada consecrating their own country to Mary at the same time. Our own Bishop Kevin Vann will be joining Archbishop Gomez in the reconsecration.

Archbishop Gomez, who is the Archbishop of Los Angeles, said in a letter sent to all American bishops April 22, that the Marian reconsecration would be done under the title of “Mary, Mother of the Church.” He invited all the bishops of the country to join him in prayer on May 1 at 12 p.m. PDT, or 3 p.m. EDT.

“Every year, the Church seeks the special intercession of the Mother of God during the month of May. This year, we seek the assistance of Our Lady all the more earnestly as we face together the effects of the global pandemic,” he said in his letter.

The announcement follows similar plans made by the bishops of Canada, who will consecrate the Crown Dominion to Mary under the same title on the same day.

“Based on discussion with the leadership of the Canadian Catholic Conference of Bishops, the Executive Committee of the USCCB met and affirmed the fitness of May 1, 2020, as an opportunity for the bishops of the United States to reconsecrate our nation to Our Lady and to do so under the title, Mary, Mother of the Church,” Gomez said, adding that they would be doing so “on the same day that our brother bishops to the north consecrate Canada under the same title.”

Gomez said that the appropriate offices of the bishops’ conference—the Secretariat for Divine Worship and the communications office—will provide liturgical direction and logistical information for the reconsecration.

The bishops of Italy said on April 20 that they would consecrate their own country to Mary after receiving more than 300 letters requesting the consecration.

The title “Mary, Mother of the Church” was given to the Blessed Mother by Pope St. Paul VI at the Second Vatican Council, and a memorial under the title was added to the Church’s liturgical calendar in 2018.

Pope Francis declared that the Monday after Pentecost should be celebrated as the memorial of “Mary, Mother of the Church.” Cardinal Robert Sarah, head of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship, said that the addition of the memorial aimed to encourage growth in “genuine Marian piety.”

Celebrating the memorial in 2018, Archbishop Gomez said that “when Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, Mary became the maternal heart of his Church.”

Archbishop Gomez also said the May 1 reconsecration will be timely in asking for the intercession of Mary during the pandemic. There are more than 2.6 million confirmed COVID-19 cases in the world and almost 185,000 deaths due to the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center on Thursday morning.

“This will give the Church the occasion to pray for Our Lady’s continued protection of the vulnerable, healing of the unwell, and wisdom for those who work to cure this terrible virus,” Gomez said.

“In this Easter season we continue to journey with our Risen Lord that among the graces of this time may be healing and strength, especially for all who are burdened by the many effects of the COVID pandemic,” he said in his letter to bishops.


VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Here is a CNS translation of the prayer Pope Francis recited by video March 11 for a special Mass and act of prayer asking Mary to protect Italy and the world during the coronavirus pandemic.



O Mary,
you always shine on our path
as a sign of salvation and of hope.
We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick,
who at the cross took part in Jesus’ pain, keeping your faith firm.
You, Salvation of the Roman People,
know what we need,
and we are sure you will provide
so that, as in Cana of Galilee,
we may return to joy and to feasting
after this time of trial.
Help us, Mother of Divine Love,
to conform to the will of the Father
and to do as we are told by Jesus,
who has taken upon himself our sufferings
and carried our sorrows
to lead us, through the cross,
to the joy of the resurrection. Amen.

Under your protection, we seek refuge, Holy Mother of God. Do not disdain the entreaties of we who are in trial, but deliver us from every danger, O glorious and blessed Virgin.


Today, Deacon Steve welcomes a pair of spiritual warriors who know a thing or two about Mary, the Mother of Our Savior. Simply glance at the title of today’s podcast, and you will clearly see what direction we are heading in today.

Deacon Steve Greco’s in-studio guests include Fr. Chris Troxell of Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in Claremont, CA; and, Mayra Brown of 1858 Enterprises.






Originally broadcast on 1/5/2020


Baltimore, Md., Nov 26, 2019 / 10:00 am (CNA) – Mary must be our key to the New Evangelization in the U.S., the incoming head of the U.S. bishops’ evangelization committee says.

“The greatest evangelization that ever happened in the history of the world was when Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared in what is now Mexico City, and converted seven million people within ten years,” Bishop Andrew Cozzens, auxiliary bishop of St. Paul-Minneapolis, told CNA in an interview at the recent fall meeting of the U.S. bishops’ conference.

“So divine help is the ultimate goal,” he said.

Bishop Cozzens was elected as the chairman of the Committee on Evangelization of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) at the recent fall assembly in Baltimore, from Nov. 11-13.

He will succeed Bishop Robert Barron, auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles, in the role. Barron has served as chairman of the committee since the fall of 2017.

During his tenure, Barron emphasized the challenge of evangelizing the “nones,” or Americans who do not affiliate with any religion. In a presentation to fellow bishops in June of 2019, Barron noted that for every convert to the Catholic Church, more than six people are leaving the church.

The problem of religious disaffiliation is especially marked among young people. According to the Pew Research Center, more than four-in-ten Millennials are religiously unaffiliated.

Cozzens credited Barron with keeping the issue prominent as the bishops’ conference simultaneously responded to the renewed clergy sexual abuse crisis.

“I’d love to see us, as a bishops’ conference, take the problem head-on and come together in various ways,” Cozzens said, while stressing that evangelization at the parish level is the primary aim, together with strengthening families. He said that Marian devotion will be critical to any success.

“Teaching that Mary’s role in our faith and in the family can really help strengthen families” is essential, he told CNA.

As the Church responds to a rise in the “nones” and in Catholics leaving the church, a key question needs to be “how do we make our Catholics missionary disciples?” Cozzens asked.

This needs to be done at the “grassroots level,” he said, noting efforts which have been underway by groups like Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), St. Paul’s Outreach, the Neocatechumenal Way, and the Catholic Charismatic Renewal.

This involves “helping lead people to that encounter and that formation they need to be able to send forth people as evangelizers,” he said.

Another development during Barron’s tenure as evangelization chair was the V Encuentro, a national gathering of Hispanic Catholic leaders, held in September of 2018.

The future of the Church in the U.S. will largely be tied to the Hispanic community, but, in October, Pew reported that Catholics no longer constitute a majority among Hispanics in America.

“The whole basis of the Encuentro process was forming missionary disciples,” Cozzens said, “so that process, as it goes forward, is really intended to form leaders who would be able to help our young people, especially our Latino young people.”

“In some ways, I find it much easier to evangelize than your average American young person,” Cozzens said of the Hispanic Catholic community in the U.S. “They’re very open. But we have to do it.”