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Host Rick Howick interviews guests on a variety of topics.

On this week’s show, Rick welcomes Dr. Erin Barisano back to the program. Dr. Barisano is the Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Orange.

Our topic of discussion today will center on the state of Catholic education in Orange County. How are things looking as we embark on this new year of 2021?

Listen in, and be encouraged!





Originally broadcast on 1/16/21



Returning to the classroom each fall historically includes the essay ritual of sharing “How I spent my summer vacation.” Kids telling stories filled with rest, relaxation and adventure are a reminder that those precious weeks are designed for students and educators alike to recharge before heading into a new academic year.  

But like much of 2020, summer vacation this year was anything but restful, especially for principals who saw their education delivery model change on a dime last March in the transition to distance learning. The final weeks of school morphed into a months-long endeavor to prepare for the beginning of a new school year that was filled with mostly unknowns. 

“For me personally, this is the hardest summer that I’ve had,” says Jeannette Lambert, who is in her third year as principal at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School. “But it’s also been one of the most rewarding.”  

Lambert spent her summer bringing together a reopening plan task force comprised of administration, parents, community professionals, teachers and clergy. The work produced from this group developed the school’s waiver application, allowing their campus to open to TK-6th graders on Sept. 8. 

“We looked at it from every angle and how we could reopen safely,” says Lambert. 

This meant the task force members became unexpected “experts” in a host of new areas, such as air filtration, sanitization, plumbing and disinfecting. Lambert admits she is now well versed in products such as hand-washing stations, air scrubbers, UV light treatment and electrostatic sprayers. 

Additionally, Lambert is coordinating the logistics behind the synchronous learning platforms the school is utilizing for the 20 percent of their student body that has chosen to remain online. Add to that the permit approvals required for tent spaces to accommodate the school’s junior high students, and the role of principal has expanded far beyond what she ever envisioned. Thankfully, she is not tackling these new challenges alone. 

“What I have seen is a community come together in unexpected ways,” says Lambert. “We’re all invested in the health and wellbeing of our kids. We have amazing teachers who are so dedicated to their profession. This is hard, and they are working very hard. And I think that shows the dedication to Catholic education. It’s been impressive.”  

When Mission Basilica School principal Alycia Beresford thinks back to her summer vacation, words like “rollercoaster ride” and “putting out fires” were at the forefront during those busy months. Along with coordinating the school’s technology infrastructure upgrade, there were tasks like ordering and installing desk shields and preparing Covid protocol handbooks that were at the top of her to-do list. 

Beresford also took steps to add medical professionals to the school’s board to advise on their return-to-campus plan, and she has relied on the help of city engineers to help manage traffic flow logistics at the school site. 

“As a principal, you always have to be flexible, but I think [Covid] has challenged everything we know about flexibility,” says Beresford. “We’re trying to think outside the box and do everything we can to meet the needs of the students.” 

As most principals can probably attest, these unexpected tasks are in addition to a long list of other tasks such as keeping parents updated throughout the summer, coordinating instruction platforms and teacher training and constantly applying forward-thinking to prepare for every situation imaginable.  

But the rewards for giving up their summer break include the smiles they see on their students’ faces. 

“I know they’re super happy,” says Beresford of the students. “That’s one thing that we hear every day. We really appreciate being with the kids a lot more because it’s something that wasn’t possible for so long. And the kids appreciate it too. We’re very grateful.”


Parents whose young children are enrolling in their first formal Catholic educational experiences may find preparing for success a daunting prospect, mostly due to the gravity of the task. 

If children aren’t attending Catholic schools, they are expected to enroll in a religious education program through their parish. Such programs once were known as CCD classes. 

CCD – the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine – is an association established in Rome in 1562 for the purpose of religious education. We know it as the religious education program of the Roman Catholic Church, normally designed for children.  

Today, even the language and definitions of Catholic education have changed, notes Diocese of Orange Director of Faith Formation Katie Dawson. “We don’t talk about CCD,” Dawson explains. “Many of us knew CCD as kids, but religious training for children is now commonly referred to as faith formation.” 

The concept of faith formation, she says, “reflects the idea that we’re doing more than communicate information. We’re in the transformation business.” 

As those jointly responsible for growing children’s faith, Dawson says, parents and teachers support the development of the life of faith not only in their children but in their entire families as well.  

“When it comes to what to expect, my hope is that parents will register their child for faith formation with an attitude of partnership,” she states. “Parents need to forge strong partnerships with the educators providing the classes.”  

After all, the formation of faith in children – as in adults – depends on daily prayer, frequent reflection, and ongoing education. 

Parishes sometimes publish handbooks for parents and children enrolled in faith formation programs. Some of the tips offered for parents: 

  • Keep feast days and religious traditions as well attending Sunday Mass.
  • Consider holding a family night to discuss scripture and read the Bible.
  • Review each week’s lessons. Ensure children complete required homework.
  • Become involved in your parish individually and as a family by volunteering your services, assisting with fundraising efforts, and attending special events. 
  • Share your faith. Talk to your children about the decisions you make and how you live and act because of your religious beliefs. 
  • Discuss timely social questions and issues with the teachings of Christ in mind.


“The successful formation of faith in children emanates from a family engaged in their journey of faith,” Dawson continues. “This is why the parents’ own faith journey is important in creating an atmosphere of learning and growing for the child. 

“In other words, the ways parents pray, attend Mass, and generally turn to God for their own needs and concerns are models for the child.” 

With that in mind, “there are no perfect models, and that’s kind of the point,” Dawson notes. “I would hope parents would approach faith formation as common journey with their child.” Each parish’s faith formation classes instruct children on the Catholic Church’s doctrine, language, and rituals, but the family’s day-to-day exploration of their Catholic faith is equally as important. 

“A warm and open and supportive relationship with your child is best single predictor of the child embracing the religious proposal offered by the parents.” 


VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Without respectfully collaborating with teachers and schools, parents will risk being on their own when it comes to educating their children and be at a greater disadvantage for facing the challenges emerging from today’s culture, mass media and technology, Pope Francis said.

Speaking to hundreds of parents, the pope told them that “teachers are like you — dedicated each day in the educational service of your children.”

His comments came to some 1,400 members and guests of the Italian Parents’ Association during an audience at the Vatican’s Paul VI hall Sept. 7.

Praising the group’s efforts promoting the family and education as guided by Christian principles, the pope invited them to always foster and build trust with teachers and schools.

If it is all right to “complain about limitations” or defects when it comes to schools and teachers, it is also “imperative to treasure them as the most invaluable allies in the task of education, which you together carry forward,” said the pope, who taught high school students as a young Jesuit in Argentina.

Today, “families no longer appreciate like before the job teachers have and (teachers) — who are often badly paid — feel the parents’ presence in the school as being an uncomfortable intrusion,” which all ends in a situation, he said, where the parents are kept at bay or considered “adversaries.”

“To change this situation, someone has to take the first step, overcoming any fear of the other and generously holding out one’s hand,” he said.

“That is why I invite you to always cultivate and foster trust toward schools and teachers; without them, you risk remaining on your own in your educational efforts and being increasingly unable to confront new educational challenges that emerge from today’s culture, society, mass media and new technologies,” the pope said. 

Everyone has their role to play and no one entity can substitute the other, he added, which is why education demands collaboration, frequent communication and mutual trust.

“Dear parents, your children are the most precious gift you have received. Remember how to take care of it with commitment and generosity, giving children the freedom necessary to grow and mature into people who will one day be able to be open to the gift of life,” he said.

However, he told them, do not let their “vigilance over the dangers that threaten the lives” of children prevent them from being able to look at the world with confidence or from showing kids the best ways to grow as people, citizens and Christians.

The pope said both parents and teachers need to teach kids the difference between good, not so good and bad, and help kids learn to make such moral and ethical distinctions on their own.


75% of those who say religion is not important view porn as morally acceptable. What’s changed? A new Gallup poll reveals that the majority of Americans think porn is acceptable. On Trending this week, you’ll hear Chris Mueller and Timmerie Millington speak about how to overcome a pornography addiction, how parents can help one teacher’s plea for better discipline of children, and how Hungary’s Family Policy drastically boosted marriages and lowered abortion and divorce rates in just seven years.






Originally broadcast on 6/17/18


When young adults leave their family for college, work, marriage or the military, it’s hard for parents to let go. It’s sometimes even tougher to realize that they make their own decisions about life – including if and how to worship God. 

How can parents ensure that their growing children instill the values of home, family, and faith? How, just as importantly, can we be sure they will remain Catholics? 

Parents have an intense drive to make sure their children accept their values and act according to those standards, says The Center for Parenting Education in an online article, “Values Matter.” Still, the article warns, strong adherence to one’s values is a common cause of tension between parents and children, especially teens, when the children espouse opposing values. 

The article urges parents to know their goals for their children and decide how to relate to them. That focuses parenting choices on the key messages they want to send and determines the behaviors and attitudes they want to reinforce. 

  • Do you want your growing child to have a strong work ethic?
  • Is it important that you child grows up to be a kind person?
  • Do you value generosity and want your kids to give freely of themselves and their possessions?
  • Is it vital that your son or daughter be assertive?
  • Do you want them to have a keen sense of independence?


If parents think hard about their own values, the Center says, it’s easier for them to help children become honest, polite, neat, creative, or to ensure that they socialize easily and value time with their families and friends. 

The Catholic Answer claims that because adult children and teens today often grow up in families overwhelmed with stress, disappointment, trauma, and doubt, it can be difficult to influence them to live values-centered lives. 

“They are assaulted by divorce, unemployment and displacement, coupled with a pervasive identity crisis and seemingly fruitless search for meaning,” writer Christine Valenine-Owsik continues. “Other issues include substance abuse, accelerating inclinations toward the occult and a variety of sexual addictions. Whether a symptom or a result of their unfulfilling lives, directionless young adults often subscribe to the trendy new faith: none.” 

It’s natural that teens break away from their parents and closely identify with their peer group, the “Values Matter” story notes. Once teens mature, they break away from their friends and develop their own values. And when they become parents themselves, values can change and become higher priorities in their lives. Many times, this includes a return to the Church – or at least to institutional worship of God. 

The most important thing Catholic parents can do to ensure their children grow to treasure similar values, Valentine-Owsik says, is to teach them personally, from day one, about Catholicism. 

“Giving kids the unblemished truth about Catholicism, at each stage of development, shapes their early understanding of God, affection for Him and conscience, and helps them develop a spiritual ‘eye,’” writes Valenine-Owsik. “Parents — beyond Catholic schools, CCD programs, books, apps, Church youth organizations, etc. — have the primary responsibility before God to ground their children in the faith.” 

Kids should understand why Catholicism is the true faith instituted by Christ, she adds. “Only Catholicism has the true presence of Christ in the holy Eucharist, and six additional sacraments given by Christ for salvation.  

“It’s the only one with papal authority for teaching clarity, long-standing apostolic tradition and unchangeable doctrine.”  


VATICAN CITY (CNS) — A lifestyle that is environmentally ethical cannot be “schizophrenic” — for example, by showing more care for animals and forests, than for the plight of people, Pope Francis said.

A green lifestyle must be consistent and complete, driven by a love for God the creator and all of his creation, the pope said in a speech Jan. 5 to the Italian Association of Catholic Teachers, which held its national congress in Rome in early January.

The elementary school teachers must help children from a young age understand and practice an environmentally ethical lifestyle that must not be “schizophrenic,” that is, a kind of disconnected concern for, as an example, “taking care of animals in extinction, but ignoring problems facing the elderly. No. Or defending the Amazon rainforest, but neglecting the rights of workers to have a fair wage,” he said.

This approach demands teaching the importance of personal responsibility, not bombarding the children with slogans or catchy commands that someone else will have to carry out, he said. Teach children to have an enthusiastic appetite for “experiencing an environmental ethics that stem from the choices and behaviors in daily life,” he said.

The pope also encouraged teachers and schools to rebuild a new alliance with families that mutually supports and strengthens each other.

The educational alliance or “pact” that once existed among the state, schools and parents unfortunately “is broken” and must be repaired, he said.

Since constructive collaboration no longer comes “naturally,” plan and design a way for it to happen, even with the help of experts in education, said the pope, who used to teach at a Jesuit high school in Buenos Aires.

“But even before that, foster a new ‘conspiracy’ — and I am fully aware of this wording — between teachers and parents,” becoming jointly responsible accomplices to promote the well-being of children, he said.

Teachers and parents cannot see each other as opposing forces and or point fingers at each other, he said, but rather, they must put themselves “in the other’s shoes, understanding the real difficulties both sides face today in education, and thus creating greater solidarity, a supportive collusion.”

Pope Francis also urged the Catholic teachers to continue to be inspired by their Christian values, whether they teach in public or private Catholic schools, and to encourage their students to be open to others in a “culture of encounter.”

The challenge is to work together to teach kids to be open to and interested in what is around them, he said.

They need to be “capable of caring and tenderness — I am thinking of bullying here — free from widespread fallacies” that claim the only way to be worth anything is “to be competitive, aggressive and tough toward others, especially toward those who are different, foreign or seen as being an obstacle in some way to one’s personal success,” he said.

“Unfortunately, this is the ‘air’ our children often breathe,” he said. The remedy is to give them a “change of air” that is healthier and more humane, he said, which is why it is important teachers build a new alliance with parents.

Help kids see others as brothers and sisters to be respected and as worthwhile in getting to know “with their past, their virtues and defects, assets and limits,” he said.