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Here comes yet another special edition of Cathedral Square with your host Fr. Christopher Smith.

On today’s podcast session, we’ll catch up with Christ Cathedral parishioner and dedicated woman of faith, Elysabeth Nguyen. As the project coordinator, Elysabeth played a key role in the Our Lady of La Vang shrine coming to fruition on the Christ Cathedral campus. Listen in as she and Fr. Christopher talk about the impact of this project on the community, especially among Vietnamese Catholics worldwide!




Originally broadcast on 2/5/22


Welcome to another episode of Orange County Catholic Radio, featuring host Rick Howick.

On this episode, we’re going to leave our broadcast facility in the Tower of Hope and take our mobile studio outdoors. Our host Rick Howick and studio engineer Jim Governale recently joined in the outdoor festivities at Christ Cathedral for media day – which took place a couple of days before the ‘solemn blessing’ of the Our Lady of La Vang shrine. You are sure to gain great insights from this lively series of interviews with Bishops, priests, and lay leaders!




Originally broadcast on 8/14/21


Today’s podcast session is a very special one. On the campus of Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove, CA, we’ll discuss the “solemn blessing’ for the Our Lady of La Vang shrine. Joining host Rick Howick in the studio today are two honored guests: Bishop Thanh Thai Nguyen and project coordinator Elysabeth Nguyen.





Originally broadcast on 7/10/21


DES PLAINES, Ill. (CNS) — When someone survives a brush with death, such as a plane crash, and has stood at the precipice between this world and the next, they often ask, “Why did I survive?” or “What is waiting for me after I die?”

Father Esequiel Sanchez, rector of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Des Plaines, addressed questions about life and death in his homily during his first Mass at the shrine Aug. 12 following the crash of an Aeromexico flight July 31 in Durango, Mexico. He and the other 103 people aboard survived the accident.

The plane crashed almost immediately after takeoff. About 15 of his family members and friends who were in Mexico to celebrate his 50th birthday also were on the plane.

Father Sanchez sustained multiple fractures in his arm and required surgery. Journalists from around the world covered the story and focused on Sanchez’s experience in particular.

He recently met with Chicago Catholic, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Chicago, to share the spiritual implications of surviving a brush with death and the impact it has had on him and the other survivors.

The priest said he believes it was a miracle from God that everyone survived. Father Sanchez took private flying lessons years ago and understands the science behind what happened.

It was raining and hailing when the plane took off. Then a microburst pushed it back down on the runway. The landing gear buckled, and the plane went into a slide but didn’t tip over. The fuel tanks were punctured.

“If the plane had flipped over, it would have been a different story,” he said. “If we had been any higher it would have been a different story. If it wasn’t raining it would have been a very different story. There are so many factors that would tell you that it shouldn’t have been this way.

“The window of opportunity not only to make it but to make it out alive — all of us — is very small. That’s what I keep pointing to. That’s what leads you to say there was divine intervention here,” he explained.

Father Sanchez also saw miracles in the reactions of passengers, who immediately took care of each other.

“What I saw here was people did not want to leave without their loved ones. They went back to help others,” he said. “I would see that as miraculous too because people cared about each other.”

Despite his broken arm, Sanchez said he too went back to help.

“All these things point to me that it was miraculous, and I’m very comfortable saying that because I’m looking at everything that’s telling me it should have come out differently,” he said. “But then the subsequent question is ‘Why?'”

One question he said that surfaced for many survivors in the aftermath was what happens after we die.

“Our faith has an answer for that. It’s called an accounting, it’s called our judgment,” he said.

Another question is what will life be like after death?

“God’s original purpose is that we adore him and that we serve him. That happens in heaven,” the priest said. “You’re not sleeping in a hammock up there. You’re not drinking margaritas saying, ‘I’m done.’ No, no. It’s a life of adoration. It’s a life of service.”

Survivors also are asking, “Why were we spared?” In Durango that same day, a bus accident killed 11 people.

“How do you say, ‘I had a miracle,’ and they didn’t?” he asked.

During his homily, Father Sanchez said that in the weeks following the crash, what has changed him personally is people’s expressions of love and gratitude to God that he made it out alive.

“People are telling you how much they love you. People are telling you how much it would hurt them if you were gone. You normally hear this stuff in a eulogy or when you’re dead,” he said. “Well, I’m not at my funeral Mass and I’m hearing this stuff.”

People are happy to see him because their faith in miracles has been confirmed, he said.

“You really want to take better care of those who love you and take better care of the gifts that you’ve been given,” Father Sanchez added. “That’s why I pray that I become a better priest. Not because the experience scared the bejeezus out of me, and it did, but because they showed so much love toward me. My response has to be (to be) a better priest.”



As its 100th anniversary approaches, a monumental effort is underway to complete the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, according to its original architectural and iconographic plans with the mosaic ornamentation of what will be the “Crowning Jewel” of Mary’s Shrine—the Trinity Dome.

On Mother’s Day, May 14, 2017, a special one-time second collection will take place in parishes across the United States to raise funds for the Trinity Dome, the final project to complete the nation’s preeminent Marian shrine and patronal church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.  It is through this national collection that the majority of funds for the completion of the Trinity Dome will be raised.

Monsignor Walter R. Rossi, rector of the Basilica, says, “This National Shrine, built to honor the Mother God, has been nearly a century in the making and exists today because of the great generosity of American Catholics and the dedicated work of the artisans and laborers who have built it over these many years.”

Now, this same generosity and dedicated work is needed to complete the Trinity Dome, and ultimately the National Shrine, itself, in advance of its 100th anniversary.

This Mother’s Day, the Trinity Dome National Collection offers the faithful a unique opportunity to leave a lasting legacy by contributing to the completion of Mary’s Shrine, thereby honoring their Catholic heritage and entrusting themselves and their families to the Mother of God.

Of this final project that will complete the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, says, “The Trinity Dome will be a wonder to behold and a gift, not only to our Church, but to our entire country.”

For more information on the Trinity Dome, the national collection, or to make online contributions, please visit



The Diocese of Orange today announced plans to build a shrine to Our Lady of La Vang on the campus of Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove, CA.

The community of Vietnamese-American Catholics, many of whom fled Vietnam 40 years ago and found refuge in the homes and churches of Orange County Catholics, have pledged to raise funds to build the shrine. It will become part of the planned Marian Court to be located in the plaza, just outside of the cathedral.


Bishop Vann made the announcement in a morning press conference held in the Cultural Center at Christ Cathedral and noted the many contributions of the Vietnamese-American community to the diocese.

“In my time as Bishop of the Diocese of Orange, I have been inspired by the faith and energy of the Vietnamese people. They truly place faith in God at the heart of all they do,” Bishop Vann said. “It is an honor to join them in working to build a fitting monument of their struggles, faith and community here at the center of our diocese.”

Rev. Tuyen Nguyen, pastor at Blessed Sacrament Parish, recounted the persecution that Vietnamese endured in Vietnam under an anti-Catholic regime and the apparition in which the Virgin Mary appeared, holding the infant Jesus, and offered hope and healing to the people who fled to La Vang. The shrine is intended to commemorate that apparition and to provide a place for all, including Vietnamese Catholics, to honor Our Lady of La Vang.

A committee of prominent Vietnamese-American business and community leaders has been established to lead the project and a design team has been assembled that includes: Trung Tran, architect, GSD, Vietnam; Aaron Torrence, AIA, Torrence Architects; Do Cung, conceptual design and Rev. Martin Lam Nguyen, art professor, University of Notre Dame.

Cindy Bobruk, executive director of the Orange Catholic Foundation, explained that the fundraising goal for the first phase of the project is $10 million. “More than 300 families have already raised $1.5 million to seed construction,” she said. Outreach will continue to the 15 Vietnamese parishes in the diocese.

Rev. Christopher Smith, Rector and Episcopal Vicar at Christ Cathedral, said that the timeline for breaking ground for the shrine will depend on the completion of the cathedral and fundraising efforts, but that design plans would likely be submitted to the city of Garden Grove for approval by the end of December.